on the Web!
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...
And the family
sail out into the 'sunset' and of course, lived happily ever
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?
© Thamesweb 2000
Chesney, with best wishes from his regulars
us, email Thamesweb.