Words by Jessica Peace
DROP YOUR LOAF
Although lobbing stale bread at our feathery friends has been the habit since we were in our prams, it’s time to chuck something new...
THE BREAD PROBLEM...
In some circles our crusts have been termed as ‘quack cocaine’, enough said. Throwing bread at a duck is kinda like someone throwing chips at you in the street, repeatedly. As appealing as that sounds, to begin with there’s not much nutrients for the duck and if they fill up on our bread they stop hunting for themselves.
Feeding the ducks at those nice spots, like the same bridge or lakeside, which people turn-up to a few times a day can cause overcrowding. This stresses out the birds for a start but leads to habitat damage; excessive droppings and leftover bits encourage rats and clog up the water.
But actually it’s a bit darker than that... The lack of good stuff going into the duck can leave it nutrient deficient, causing ‘angel wing’, a deforming of the wing which disables the bird, stopping it from flying and leaving it vulnerable. Our bits of old crust are polluting the lakes and rivers we innocently toss them into. The uneaten bits left floating about can cause ‘algal blooms’, changing the chemical and bacterial content of the water and increasing disease. Blimey.
SO, DO WE HAVE TO STOP?
Good news is you can still feed them but just like ‘Dry January’, a bit of control is required. Firstly, feed them LESS, think of it as a sweet treat for the duck – like that one glass of wine... Then feed them the good stuff; oats, cracked corn, rice, chopped grapes and defrosted peas will do the trick. You can think of ducks like your garden birds; they like the same grub, so birdseed, worms and veg cuttings are all good. If in doubt put your hand in your pocket and buy some duck pellets. Now we’ve stopped accidently polluting the waterways and stuffing our birds, here are some of G&T’s fave duck feeding spots...
THE ROYALS: Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regent’s Park, Bushy Park and St James’s (pictured) – where you’ll also see the pelicans.
REGENT’S CANAL: From Little Venice to Lime House via Camden lock, almost nine miles of ducks, water and Rosie and Jim boats.
NORTH: The Heath, Lloyd Park, Gladstone Park (pictured), Clissold Park, Alexandra Palace.
EAST: Southwark Park, Victoria Park, Manor House Gardens, Sydenham Wells Park.
SOUTH: Brockwell Park, Peckham Rye Park, Dulwich Park, Crystal Palace, South Norwood Lake.
WEST: Wandsworth Common, Tooting Bec Common, Battersea Park and Richmond Park (Pictured).
See you there, rice in hand!