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It's a duck's life

It’s not easy being a duck. There’s always feathers to preen, eggs to sit on, ducklings to count, the fear of being eaten by something bigger than you and the constant need to feed. We’ve spoken to Deidre, a Berkhamsted-based mallard about the day-to-day challenges she faces.

Deidre the duck Deidre the duck

I never fully sleep. I’ve always got one half of my brain totally active on the lookout for anything that might take a bite out of me. I tend to sleep with one eye open. I can be up and active in a second of harm comes my way.

I nap a lot in the day too. If the mood takes me I’ll fall asleep on the water with my head tucked under my wing. If I’m not in the mood for a watery nap I’ll sleep on the canal bank on one foot – it helps me keep the other foot warm.

The temperature is something I’m always conscious of. I need to try and conserve all the heat I have, as staying warm uses up my fat reserves. A clear night means that I need to find extra calories the next day but it’s not always that simple.

Well-wishers are often popping past with their little people and throwing white bread at me. Don’t get me wrong – it’s tasty and I chomp it down. It’s just that it bloats me up so much that I don’t have room for anything else and then I’m hungry again really soon after. For some reason it just doesn’t sustain me.

The other problem is that when I’m full they tend to dump what they have left on the towpath. I know they mean well but once I’m full I can’t get any more down me and the rats come in and have a feast. I don’t have time for rats. Stinky disease-ridden creatures. They’ve never got a nice thing to say to anyone.

Things have gotten a bit better over the past year. For some reason people have been throwing oats and rice for me. Granted it’s not quite as delicious but I feel a lot better for it. Some people have even been bringing their old lettuce down as well. It might be a bit limp but it tastes good all the same.

Last date edited: 11 April 2016