Friday 1 May 2009

Lord love a duck*

In what lies the fascination of ducks? For an overwhelming fascination it is, and one that grows and becomes more and more commanding. The very haunts of wild duck - the grey waters, open spaces and wild country, and the cold, rough weather that is most associated with them, exercise a particular charm which nothing else quite equals.
These two were sitting together on a bridge in the park, 
entirely unfazed by my presence or camera.
Indeed the drake seemed only too happy to pose.

His mate wears a more guarded expression.

Since early times ducks, particularly those with bright plumage, have been kept in captivity on account of their decorativeness and friendly disposition, though this custom was more popular in France than in this country.

In 1661 King Charles II formed a collection of waterfowl in London, in St James's Park, and used to amuse himself by feeding them. The birds apparently bred in good numbers, and there are records that baskets were provided for the ducks to nest in.

The collection of water-fowl in St James's Park was the predecessor of many other collections big and small, all over the country. At the present day it is almost a foregone conclusion that a park with a lake should have a collection of wild duck...and many wild birds join the tame ones and soon lose their fear of human beings.

A Book of Ducks - Phyllis Barclay-Smith

(* A mild expression of surprise, found in James Joyce's Ulysses,
T.S Eliot's The Rock and P.G Wodehouse's The Coming of Bill.)

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