I know what a pleasure it is to come down to the river to feed the ducks (though I know bread isn’t very good for them) and what fun they are, especially for children. Living by the river, as I do, is a privilege, with so much to watch and enjoy.
However, I do need to make a plea to Ryers throwing bread to the ducks at the kind of mud slipway just off Ferry Road, along the towpath to the railway line. Unfortunately, it isn’t just ducks who eat the bread.
Quite often people will come down in the evening with their stale bread and cast it upon the waters, so to speak. I think the pictures on April 2 at about 6pm demonstrate this well. The ducks are less numerous than they were, and during the winter the flock of thirteen has reduced to a regular three, two drakes in attendance on a duck, and two other drakes, who come now and again. They tend to be here in the middle of the day, too, not in the evening.
However, as well as the duck and her drakes, we have a very large group of gulls (see main picture). I find the gulls very amusing, as they are noisy, argumentative and clumsy and have great charm, but they can also be aggressive and thieve food from the gardens if anything is left out for a minute.
So, as the bread floats on the water, down come the gulls, photographed here eating up the bread about three or four minutes after it appeared. You can see how many there are, flying down from roosts on the roofs around, like Pottery Court and Magdala House.
I also have to go to great lengths if I sit outside, or try to dry washing, to find or provide shelter as, even though we have protective anti bird spikes on our roofs, their droppings still splash down and are very unpleasant. The picture tells the story.
The coots, jackdaws and other small birds benefit from the crumbs left, but we also see a black rat scurrying about, although there is also a very fat black cat who appears that side of the river at teatime each day, who will probably sort that out.
So, please if you want to feed the ducks, make sure they are actually there, don’t get rid of two loaves of bread at a time, and shoo the gulls away, please.
Image Credits: Gillian Roder .