hawthorn leaf

Duck Days

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Sunday 24th October 1999

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umbrellablackbirdA GREY RAINY day; I push an oversize bright blue-and-yellow umbrella through a narrow section of the footpath and set a Blackbird off alarming in an adjoining garden.

At the poultry farm there is lush green grass on an area which was bare earth, the result of grazing and trampling by domestic ducks, a couple of years ago. It hasn't been re-seeded, it has recovered on its own.

ducks grazing over grazed, feverfew appearing feverfewgrass recovered
Year 1
Ducks grazing on grassy meadow area.
Year 2
Ducks continue to graze and trample. Only distasteful weeds, such as Feverfew flourish.
Year 3
No ducks. Feverfew and bare, compacted earth.
Year 4
Lush growth of grass, Feverfew much reduced.
The ducks, which were Khaki Campbells, also avoided eating the Wild Garlic by the stream, although it did get badly trampled. A few years earlier a wild Mallard had nested amongst the garlic.

the poultry farm in summer The waiter at the Italian restaurant, on the site of an old watermill nearby, told me that the domestic flock had a daily round. At a certain time they'd start coming down the stream, spend a while by the restaurant, then continue down to the canal. They would return to the farm along another stream, to complete the anti-clockwise circuit.

You could always tell if the flock had passed the restaurant, by looking on the 'Today's Specials' board (only joking).

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

E-mail; 'richard@daelnet.co.uk'

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