A Ducumentary on the Web!

Web Feat!

By our Duck Vortrekker, The Windsor Webber

Please note: there are 10 photographs in this article.
Please allow a few moments for them to all arrive.

At 2.00pm on 22nd May 2000, I, your intrepid reporter, Windsor Webber, was driving around the Clarence Road roundabout. On the far side I saw that several cars had stopped to allow a Mallard duck and her three chicks to cross the road. The traffic here is always very busy as it is the only river crossing in the area from the south to the M4 motorway with additional traffic to and from east and west. Yet the duck with her chicks in tow managed to make it across three lanes of traffic to the comparative safety of the partially wooded roundabout where I first photographed them.

Mallard and chicks cross the Clarence Road roundabout

A few moments later, on the far side of the roundabout, mother duck chanced her luck again, aiming for the north eastern corner of the roundabout, this time risking southbound traffic from Slough and the M4! I am pleased to report that she made it!

With traffic passing within a few feet the Mallard duck and her young take a break

Quite evidently she was making for the river with her newborn trio, but, unable to fly, the ducklings could only trot along behind their mother who dutifully intended to walk them all the way to the river, still a good half mile (800m) away.

From the footpath leading to the pedestrian underpass, I chivvied the quartet down the slope and up the other side to the end of Albert Street where there was plenty of grass and cover and from where they should, if they maintained a northerly heading, make riverfall, or fall in the river, about an hour later at their rate of progress, following the line of the ditch that runs to the western side of Windsor Boys School playing fields.

It was this point that your reporter had to attend to another breaking news story of such staggering importance to Windsor that I just could not miss it, er, I will tell you about it sometime, it wasn't so great!

So how the duck and her brood were missed by the thousands of marauding cats that inhabit the undergrowth around Albert Street, and how they kept their heads down in foot high grass, and how the hatchlings refrained from assassinating their mother for taking them on such a perilous journey, I cannot report. Suffice it to say that fifteen minutes and several hundred yards later I was back on their trail, spying a bold and brilliantly yellow waistcoated workman holding up the traffic in Maidenhead Road to allow our brave family to cross in total safety.

Mrs Mallard and her brood continue their trek along the fencing of
Stovell Recreation Ground.

Your resourceful Web Reporter had now caught up with Mrs Mallard and the three little ones to do an in depth interview, but the only response was an aggressive quack from Mum and peeps from the chicks. However, I shooed them in the right direction, as I considered it my duty to see the brood safely all the way to the river.

At the far side of Stovell Rec there remained only one more obstacle, the road into the Leisure Centre. As expected, much traffic here too, but as you can see, Mrs Mallard now had the Public Slipway into the river firmly in her sights.

A momentary slip as the duck family thought it may be better to stay by the shelter of the fencing around the playing field, and then with just one more encouraging chivvy, they boldly set off across the road.

Fascinated reader, you may wonder why there are no photographs of them crossing the roads? Well, imagine holding a camera steady as a duck waddles hesitatingly in front of you with your arms outstretched to slow the traffic! Oh, if I had my life over again I would have trained for the moment!

Just across this road lies safety, the slipway and the river !

There it is! Just another few steps...


There... made it!

And the family sail out into the 'sunset' and of course, lived happily ever after!

Footnote: Why should a Mallard duck be taking her ducklings on such a dangerous journey? Well, we cannot be sure but we believe that they were hatched in the Great Park, or somewhere along Imperial Road a good half mile from the river. Mother duck would have flown there earlier in the year, perhaps a month or two ago when the river was in flood, preferring a Great Park pond to the raging torrent that was the Thames in early Spring.

Having hatched her brood - there could have been more originally - she decides to take them to her homeland - OK, homewater! But as her offspring were rubbish at flying, by foot it had to be... successfully, as you have seen. And it is not the first time that this behaviour has been noted. Mrs Chesney of the Bexley Arms describes a similar event a year or two ago, where the family were duck-marched down Vansittart Road, around the corner into Arthur Road and across into Duke Street and into the river at Baths Island.

Anyone else got any more news to add to this remarkable story? Contact us! Thamesweb.

© Thamesweb 2000

 For Colin Chesney, with best wishes from his regulars

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