The Real McCoy


Ducks 011 Wm


The rusties may have a bit of competition this summer


There I was, relaxing at my desk, after a day’s hard grafting when I heard a once familiar sound. Quack, quack, quaaaack. Loud. Close by. We rushed outside just in time to see two of them hightailing it down the river.

By the next day there were four.


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Getting some decent pictures of them has proved a bit of a challenge. I decided on a stake out. After all, if they’d gone up the river then most likely they’d come back the same way, yes? The sun was going down but I’d found the perfect spot, cunningly concealed beside a tree but ready to catch them at beak level as they rounded a bend. Cold set in. Mike threw me down a fleece. My gardening clog revealed a hole and the soil down there is boggy. And then the midges arrived.


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A career as a wildlife photographer just isn’t going to happen. Especially when, feeling not a little smug, I can retreat inside for one of Heston Blumenthal’s hot cross buns and replace myself with a field cam. And what happened next? What? The ducks came back overland that’s what. They hauled themselves out of the water and took a short cut, completely avoiding the meander in the river where we’d carefully set up the camera.


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But before anyone should dwell for even a second upon the word ‘Crispy’..


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or reaches for the hoisin sauce, as Mike already has..


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 I should point out that these ducks don’t actually look that wild..


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I’d put good money on someone downstream keeping them as pets.


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So it just wouldn’t be right now would it?


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2017-10-27T09:44:47+00:00March 18th, 2016|Tags: , |


  1. Julieanne March 18, 2016 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    mmmm, crispy duck in hoisin sauce. Ok, probably better not 😉

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 7:21 pm - Reply

      I used to love it, until we lived with ducks. I’ve never been able to eat it since.

  2. thesalemgarden March 18, 2016 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    beautiful ducks! I wonder what kind they are? They do look like they may be domestic. Fun to see ducks across the pond doing the same dance as our’s here in Salem!

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 7:22 pm - Reply

      They must have found something very tasty on the river bed. At one time all the bums were in the air!

  3. Backlane Notebook March 18, 2016 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    No best not but I did buy one in Sainsbury’s yesterday-prepared of course. I love seeing ducks mucking about on streams and rivers-such charming antics and often with the ducklings following their every move.

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 7:27 pm - Reply

      I think I know where they come from and if so it’s quite a way downstream. When the ducklings are older maybe we’ll see some. That would be fun.

  4. Sam March 18, 2016 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    They definitely don’t look like wild ducks (well, no species I recognise anyway) but lovely to have a visit and see them enjoying your facilities 🙂

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 7:30 pm - Reply

      From three days’ observations it appears they make their way slowly upstream late morning and then pass by us again on their way home just before dark. So on that basis we should see quite a bit of them.

  5. derrickjknight March 18, 2016 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    Wonderful. Maybe they’ll scare off the deer

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 7:34 pm - Reply

      Something seems to have scared off the deer. I saw them again today but in the field over the way. Notwithstanding we’ve set up duck cam alongside one of the deer tracks in the wood. Should get a good view if they return.

  6. Bumbleabdme March 18, 2016 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    How exciting! Hopefully they’ll think your des res is much better than their current one and move upstream permanently! Fingers crossed! X ps- Mike is so kind attending to your needs in such a caring manner! Ha ha. What would you do without him!

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 7:44 pm - Reply

      I was supposed to be helping Mike out with some heavy digging too.. and then got distracted by the ducks.

  7. FlowerAlley March 18, 2016 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    This was fun. I love thinking of you waiting for the ambush with a blanket. Great post!

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 7:46 pm - Reply

      It’s still quite chilly here, especially when the sun goes down. Can’t wait for the proper warm weather to arrive (hope it does..).

  8. Pauline March 18, 2016 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    It makes a change from Mr. P! Would you want them to take up residence, they are good for clearing slugs, but then they do quite a bit of damage? They look like some sort of hybrid, maybe domestic crossed with mallards, will you have the patter of tiny webbed feet soon?

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 7:55 pm - Reply

      I think I’d prefer they didn’t take up residence. I could do without the responsibility. It would be difficult to keep them safe at night without a lot more infrastructure. But as they seem to be passing through on a regular basis hopefully they’ll pick up a few slugs as they go! I shall certainly be throwing them in the ducks’ direction..

  9. Anne Wheaton March 18, 2016 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    These look rather like some of my ducks. Maybe I should go have a count up. Mine are Cayuga ducks that have bred with Ayelesbury ducks and mallards. Aren’t their dark feathers gorgeous. Also, although they are rather good on a plate, they have enormously thick necks, which makes them a devil of a job to dispatch.

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 8:01 pm - Reply

      They do look similar. Their dark feathers shine with a rainbow of colours. There will be no dispatching though!

  10. Sue Garrett March 18, 2016 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    An interesting interlude,

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 8:02 pm - Reply

      We’d have missed it all if we hadn’t opened up the garden as much as we did.

  11. annamadeit March 18, 2016 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    Tame or wild, they make a nice addition to the landscape! 🙂

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 8:04 pm - Reply

      They do! So funny to see them marching off home in a line. They seem to prefer walking to paddling, these ducks.

  12. Christina March 18, 2016 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica, gosh these ducks are beautiful! Or is it just that you got some wonderful photos of them? In the first one they look like bronze sculptures! Have you and Mike ever thought about getting your own ducks (or even chickens)? They could help a bit with the slugs and snails and I think they would fit right in with your lovely cottage ;-)!
    Warm regards,

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 8:08 pm - Reply

      I’d love to have ducks, or geese. But right now I really don’t want the responsibility. Plus there are plenty of foxes that roam the woods, I’ve seen them in daylight as well as at night. It might have to wait until our next house. Or maybe I’ll just enjoy occasional visits from our neighbour’s ducks.

  13. Janet/Plantaliscious March 18, 2016 at 4:34 pm - Reply

    Oh I don’t know, surely if they turn up on your land, without name tags, they are fair v game, and the Hoisin sauce should be at the ready. Just in case… Besides, they evaded your cunning camera. Surely that means war?!

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 8:11 pm - Reply

      I have discovered which way they like to go.. they won’t evade the camera next time!

  14. Linda P. March 18, 2016 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    Interesting visitors and better than the cows. I see on your sketch map you have a pond in your grounds…..just a thought.

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 8:13 pm - Reply

      We filled it in, sadly. It was well and truly wrecked and would have cost a fortune to restore. It was under trees as well, not the best place for a pond. 🙁

  15. Christina March 18, 2016 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    I think ducks are definitely preferable to Mr. P! They are rather fine specimens, I wouldn’t rule out the crispy option.

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 8:16 pm - Reply

      It will be interesting to see what Mr P makes of them. He has size and bolshiness on his side. But there are four of them to one of him.

  16. M. L. Kappa March 18, 2016 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    ❤️???????? ducks!

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 8:16 pm - Reply

      Me too 🙂

  17. CJ March 18, 2016 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    Your very own private ducks, how wonderful. Maybe they’ll like living with you more and move in. That’ll keep the pheasant on his toes. CJ xx

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 8:21 pm - Reply

      They would be a mixed blessing! Their feet crush small plants. And then there is the poop, it’s truly horrible stuff. I always wonder how they manage to keep the paths so clear at Slimbridge, I’ve never seen anyone hosing them down.

  18. justjilluk March 18, 2016 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    Farmyard crosses says the bird expert. Bit tough but eatable !

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 9:16 pm - Reply

      Highly likely. They either live at or next door to a farm. But NO eating!

  19. Piddlewick March 18, 2016 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    They are beautiful! If belonging to someone, I wonder they would have leg bands. Ours do. Maggie has a bright pink one (wih my phone number on it) in hopes she wouldn’t acceidently get shot if she flew beyond the hedge (luckily a rare occurence she always circles back in.)

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 9:21 pm - Reply

      I shall have a look if they come back tomorrow. I didn’t notice any. They do seem to have a strong homing instinct. Given how long between the outward and return trips through the garden they must go quite a way up river. But they appear to know they have to be back by nightfall.

  20. jannaschreier March 18, 2016 at 5:37 pm - Reply

    How exciting! I hope they visit you often.

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 9:21 pm - Reply

      It would be fun wouldn’t it 🙂

  21. Sue C. March 18, 2016 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    What fun to have ducks, wild or not, on your river. They look like a bit of a cross-breed, but they are lovely and you managed some excellent photos in the end.

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 9:23 pm - Reply

      Thanks Sue. I had to make do with distance shots using a long lens, mostly in bad light. I shall keep trying for the photo I was wanting to get!

  22. Helen Johnstone March 18, 2016 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    Ducks are such pleasant visitors much better than Guinea fowl which my parents had to endure and which make the most awful racket. You might get quite fluffy ducklings come the summer

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 9:27 pm - Reply

      Oh gosh yes, they’re very noisy. There were some at a garden I visited a couple of years ago. If our neighbours ever get too noisy that’s what I’ll get by way of revenge. Either guinea fowl or peacocks.

  23. snowbird March 18, 2016 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    They look a little like muscovy ducks, we have them in the rescue. It’s funny how different minds work isn’t it, you think of the plate, I would wonder how much they would cost to feed if they stick around in

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      I only think of the plate being married to a committed carnivore. But I haven’t eaten duck for years, not since there were some close to where we once lived. Goose neither, for the same reason.
      I wouldn’t think so much of the cost of feed, but the cost of protecting them in this fox ridden part of the world.

  24. Denise March 18, 2016 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    Wild ducks? I thought they looked only mildly livid…

    • Jessica March 18, 2016 at 9:39 pm - Reply

      It’s me that’s getting livid. They cause me all sorts of anxiety when they return home as it is getting dark. Dirty stop outs they are. And as the garden must be toward the end of their route I know just how long they stay out too.

  25. Kris P March 19, 2016 at 12:04 am - Reply

    How exciting! I think you’ll get a lot more enjoyment letting them stay wild and free rather than cooking them for dinner. The peninsula I live on has peacocks. Brought in during the 1920s, they’ve become pests in some areas. The community is fairly divided between peacock lovers and haters and, believe it or not, some people have posted photos of roast peacock, although the birds are officially protected by ordinance. We’ve only been visited once (by a juvenile male) and he didn’t stick around. Like ducks, peacocks can be very noisy and make a mess of the garden but the occasional visit is fun. In our case, the resident coyotes keep them from over-staying their welcome.

    • Jessica March 20, 2016 at 10:08 pm - Reply

      The nursing home my mother was in had wonderful grounds with peacocks roaming more or less wild. Although, they hung around the back entrance to the kitchens a lot so I suspect much of their diet consisted of leftovers. They were certainly noisy but wonderful to see perched on fences and railings. One night a fox got about six of them.

  26. germac4 March 19, 2016 at 12:13 am - Reply

    I sympathise with your efforts to take photos of the ducks…birds seem to turn their heads or dive down into the water just as I’m taking a photo…photography is just like gardening isn’t it….hit and miss!

    • Jessica March 20, 2016 at 10:10 pm - Reply

      Oh so true Gerrie. At least with photography you can usually get there with endless patience. With gardening dark forces are involved. And slugs.

  27. Vera March 19, 2016 at 8:05 am - Reply

    I am not a lover of ducks, alive or cooked, and was relieved when Lester decided against having any here. The two ducks we did keep here as a trial were a nightmare, especially the male one who tried to mate with everything going, including a goose who was busy sitting on her eggs. Their refusal to come in at night made them easy prey for foxes eventually. Good photos, though. Hope the hole in your clog did not upset your foot too much.

    • Jessica March 20, 2016 at 10:13 pm - Reply

      I should have taken my wellies down there, although they have a hole too just not so bad. But it was one of those spur of the moment things and with the best will in the world one is not always suitably equipped.

  28. Wendy March 19, 2016 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    I must admit I love to watch ducks. They’re such characters and yours seem very at home already. They really do look as though they’re loving your stream.

    • Jessica March 20, 2016 at 10:17 pm - Reply

      They’ve found something very interesting just under the surface on a bend in the river. Certainly they seem to spend a lot of time there! They didn’t seem that perturbed when I pursued them with the camera, another thing that makes me think they are domestic.

  29. Mrs GH. March 19, 2016 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    What do you get if you put 4 ducks in a box? Answers on a postcard!! heehee.

    • Jessica March 20, 2016 at 10:19 pm - Reply

      Oh go on then… what do you get if you put 4 ducks in a box? I know I will regret this.. 🙂

  30. wherefivevalleysmeet March 19, 2016 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    May be there will be some little ones bobbing along the stream in a few weeks time that you can capture with your lens.

    • Jessica March 20, 2016 at 10:20 pm - Reply

      That would be rather lovely 🙂

  31. Angie March 19, 2016 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    Never work with animals or children – famous words of wisdom! Well done on getting a few good shots Jessica.

    • Jessica March 20, 2016 at 10:31 pm - Reply

      Very true Angie. I’ve left the field cam down there, really should go and see if it’s had more luck than me. I’ve a horrible feeling it may have caught me slithering down the slope on my stomach today. And that’s not going on the blog.

  32. homeslip March 19, 2016 at 6:58 pm - Reply

    We had female mallards swimming in the pond one April. My daughter thought they were an early birthday present. They stayed in the garden for a couple of days and then left as mysteriously as they’d arrived. (That reminds me to watch out for baby blackbirds falling in the pond when they fledge from their nest in the honeysuckle twining through the pear tree, although the evidence suggests that they can swim and do climb out.) The allotment isn’t far from a string of ancient stew ponds and we often find ducks nesting in overgrown plots. Went to Wisley today to source a few plants for the space vacated by the laurel and there was a Spring Plant Fair so I had a bit of a splurge. Saw your new ipheon for sale but didn’t succumb!

    • Jessica March 20, 2016 at 10:37 pm - Reply

      Oh I do remember the days when I could go to the Wisley plant centre to stock up. Mike hated it though, for the amount of time we spent there and the amount of money we spent! Now we have Rosemoor not too far away but it’s not the same, much smaller.

  33. Linda aka Crafty Gardener March 19, 2016 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    What cute waddling visitors. Have they paid a return visit?

    • Jessica March 20, 2016 at 10:40 pm - Reply

      We’ve seen them about three days running but sadly not today. There was work going on in the neighbouring field, possibly they didn’t fancy their chances against chainsaws!

  34. ginaferrari March 19, 2016 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    ThEy are rather gorgeous!

    • Jessica March 20, 2016 at 10:41 pm - Reply

      They are. They have an incredible sheen on their feathers.

  35. Cathy March 19, 2016 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    The first picture was great – half way to recreating your rusty ducks!

    • Jessica March 20, 2016 at 10:42 pm - Reply

      It’ll soon be time to get the rusties out again. They’ve been overwintering in the shed. 🙂

  36. Marian St.Clair March 20, 2016 at 10:25 am - Reply

    Beautiful ducks. And spring announced with a quack! How fun is that!

    • Jessica March 20, 2016 at 10:44 pm - Reply

      You must see ducks on your river too. It certainly adds a new dimension to the valley wildlife.

  37. Rosie March 20, 2016 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    How fascinating! They look like cayugas crossed with others. I wonder if they were just on their way further up or down the river or if they will stay nearby?:)

    • Jessica March 20, 2016 at 10:47 pm - Reply

      They pass through on a definite mission and are gone quite a few hours before they pass us again on the return. If I had more time, and could do it without trespassing, it would be interesting to follow them and see how far up river they go.

  38. woolythyme March 20, 2016 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    great photos….wondering if they are going to have to be named, giving Ptolemy a run for his $$$!!!

    • Jessica March 20, 2016 at 10:50 pm - Reply

      As they’re not permanent residents they will escape being named. Mr P was back patrolling the riverbank this afternoon, possibly to reassert his authority!

  39. Helene March 21, 2016 at 11:31 pm - Reply

    Your wildlife never ceases to amaze me Jessica, or, maybe they are not so wild after all 🙂
    Do they make any damage to the garden apart from pooping everywhere? Stakeouts for wildlife photos can be fun, well done for getting your photos. I have been doing a lot of stakeouts this winter – a video will come eventually but I am still chasing a few elusive things, still trying to film the resident fox tip-toing across my garden wall. I see them so often late at night, just not when I have the camera on!!

    • Jessica March 22, 2016 at 1:50 pm - Reply

      They can cause damage but if they stay near the river it’ll be OK. It’s fairly wild down there. Stakeouts are fun but, yes, it is frustrating too!

  40. Jo March 22, 2016 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    The rusties obviously don’t scare them off then, perhaps they encourage them. I wonder if they’ll be back and become a permanent fixture.

    • Jessica March 22, 2016 at 1:52 pm - Reply

      I haven’t seen them for a couple of days so maybe, maybe not. I may have to be content with the rusties after all.

  41. Suzanne March 22, 2016 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    Lucky duck you! What fun to have these visitors… So you can can’t eat them, still fun to watch. I’d like a little waterway here to encourage these visits.
    Perhaps they will get used to you there and you can put a proper bench down there to view these lovelies?

    • Jessica March 22, 2016 at 1:54 pm - Reply

      I always hankered after putting a retreat of some sort down there. There’s a sort of peninsula which the river almost completely surrounds. But it will probably be an expense too far.

  42. CherryPie March 22, 2016 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    HaHaHa 🙂

    I love how the humble creatures of the earth always outwit man 😉

    • Jessica March 23, 2016 at 8:08 pm - Reply

      Yes, they join the ranks of the squirrels and the mice. 🙂

  43. georgie b March 23, 2016 at 6:43 am - Reply


    • Jessica March 23, 2016 at 8:41 pm - Reply

      Hi Georgie and welcome.
      Apologies, I tried to leave a comment on your blog but the google+ thing kept throwing me out with an ‘error’.
      Duck season? Is that good (celebrating) or bad (shooting)?

  44. Donna@Gardens Eye View March 26, 2016 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    I love the coloring of these lovely ducks!

    • Jessica March 28, 2016 at 1:48 pm - Reply

      They’re gorgeous, their feathers really shine.

  45. Josephine March 28, 2016 at 1:35 am - Reply

    They seem to be happy little ducks, and beautiful I might add.

    • Jessica March 28, 2016 at 1:58 pm - Reply

      It was lovely to see (and hear!) them. I hope they come back during the summer.

  46. Chloris March 29, 2016 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    I love ducks and always get excited when the mallards appear on the pond. They never stay around though, they seem to find the accommodation unsatisfactory. Such a shame, having ducklings around is such fun.
    Oh dear, outwitted by ducks now. They’ ve probably heard all about you from the squirrels.

    • Jessica March 29, 2016 at 10:58 pm - Reply

      I do seem to be a soft target for an critter in search of an easy meal. Don’t forget the mice. Their brains may be small but I’m quite sure they possess some sort of collective intelligence.

  47. Sarah March 29, 2016 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    They are a beautiful colour, it would be nice if they make occasional appearances. Do you think that they too have spotted the stream now that you opened up the view? Sarah x

    • Jessica March 29, 2016 at 11:02 pm - Reply

      I reckon they’ve always been there, taking occasional trips up river. It’s just that we hadn’t seen them before opening it all up. Same with the deer, although they have now spotted the garden, this is less good!

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