Missing ducks mystery

THE UNEXPLAINED absence of ducks from the Huddersfield Narrow Canal has caused concern among residents about the future of the wild birds in the area.

One worried lady, whose house backs onto the canal in Greenfield, said drakes are still flocking to the banks but no female mallards or chicks have been spotted this spring.

“I went for a walk on the canal with my husband and we did not see one single duck at all and no chicks either,” she said.

“We have lived here for 43 years and we know how they work and their habits, and to have no ducks at all is worrying.

“If we don’t have any ducks or chicks the drakes will all go too and there will be nothing there next year.”

A member of the RSPB’s conservation team suggested the missing ducks may be a result of the females’ search for a safer place to nest away from the often violent male mallards as well as predators.

“Mallards are funny birds,” the representative said. “They are the only bird I am aware of that has such a vicious mating system.

“Males play no part in the process beyond mating, and have dispensed with the usual courtship niceties.

“Mated females will nest in silly places, often near humans and often nowhere near water, which is really difficult for the ducklings.

“The oldest recorded Mallard lived for 29 years so I am guessing that the long-lived bird or those that regularly nested near the canal may have died, and other Mallards have chosen not to nest there.”

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