the luckless duck

A letter to the Editor of The Times, May 1878


Last year you recorded the curious incident that a wagtail had built her nest on the framework beneath a third class carriage on the London and South-Western Railway, running between Cosham and Havant four times daily. The male bird was regularly observed by the station master to be waiting with manifest interest and anxiety for the return of his family from their periodical tours.

Australian Wagtail (image by David Satterthwaite)

I would like to again report the somewhat remarkable coincidence that this year the same bird has returned and built her nest in precisely the same position under a third class carriage, and with her family of four little ones, takes the same daily return journeys from Cosham to Havant.

Cosham Home Guard found here

The framework being nearly the same in all the carriages, it is difficult to account for the selection of third class. The same interest and anxiety has been evinced by the male bird. During the absence of his family he promenades or rests impatiently on the telegraph wires, but no sooner are the carriages shunted into the siding than he enters the nest, doubtless to exercise the supervision of a good father.

Good father found here

And from The High Peak Advertiser, August 1893

Nearly 300 years ago in 1601, a duck was seen flying towards an ash tree in the village of Sheldon. It entered the tree and then mysteriously disappeared. This tale was passed down from one generation to the next and the tree became known as the duck tree.

Flying Duck Game found here

Recently the tree became decayed at the bottom and it was cut down and sold to Messrs. Wilson and Son, joiners of Ashford. When it was cut open, two boards taken from the centre gave unmistakable evidence of the genuineness of the lost duck story.

Duck carved from a single grain of rice found here

On one side of each of these boards, about an inch in thickness, was the perfect form of a full sized duck, minus the feet and tail. The body measured 8 inches across and the length from beak down was 21 inches. The bird appears to have flown head foremost into a hole which was known to be in the tree, and couldn’t get out again. In the course of time, the parts became united and thus there was an end to the duck.

recipe for Duck with Root Beer Glaze found here

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38 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. *averts eyes from pic of The Hoff*
    Thanks for the recipe ;p

    • Are you going to make it?

  2. There’s a new duck floating around in our moat, did you have anything to do with that NM?

    The King

    • I left Ducky on the side of the moat as I thought it would only be a matter of time before your royal hound made off with him. And then I can claim my reward……

  3. First photo wagtail. Gonna keep the picture in mind. Would make great art piece using three Japanese fans for wings and tail feathers. Has lots of possibilities here. Can you picture it?

  4. Don’t be fooled by the “second” dog. The Hoff’s penis really does look like that.

    • Now I feel really queasy

    • How do you know?

  5. But was there a Cosham to Havant ticket purchased by any of our feathered friends? I doubt it. Disgusted of Chipping Campden.

    • Dear Disgusted, I believe the nest was lined with tickets. Audubon of Portsmouth.

  6. Nice photo of The Hoff. Makes me want a cheeseburger…

    • Makes me want to barf.

  7. Really, Daisy? It makes me a little bit ill. Almost had to stop eating my toasted bagel. This isn’t the first time my stomach has been turned at this site.

    • I think the gimcrack is best viewed in the evening. After a few glasses of wine.

      • sigh

  8. What is it with ducks? During WW2, the town of Milwaukee became gripped by duck-mania when Gertie was discovered under a bridge raising chicks….today they are commemorated in bronze statues on that bridge, right in the centre of the city.

    Ricky Ponting has grown to like ducks too…….

    • Your cricket references are wasted on me Affer 🙂

  9. I shall plant a tree with a hole in it immediately and see what I can ensnare ….. I’m thinking tits …..

    • Good luck with that daddy. I think you’ll be seeing stars if TG finds you messing about in her garden.

  10. God, those poor puppies!

  11. It sounds like those birds that migrate and then come back to the exact same garden they migrated from. How the hell do they manage to do that?

    • Isn’t it genetic programming?

  12. In Echuca on the Murray river (near Deniliquin) there is a duck crossing. Locals are extremely good at not running over the ducks and their waddly chicks. I fear the sign is not large enough for newcomers to get the hang of the duck-friendly roads at first. I love ducks, and not only in Peking form!

  13. THere was a duck with a reason to grouse….

    As for the Hoff, I doubt that he will set a trend substituting genitals with toy dogs, no matter how wrinkled they are

  14. I’m chuckling at Dolce’s comment. It’s true! The poor dogs!

    It’s pretty incredible that the birds would choose to make a nest on a moving carriage. Fool me once…

  15. A duck eating tree. 🙂

  16. I dare you to recreate that Hoff pic.

  17. Every once in a while we head for the International District and get a smoked duck. Good stuff. That game looks fun.

  18. Poor iddy biddy ducky wucky stuck in a twee.

  19. Sorry I’m so far behind in my reading – I will catch up. 😉

  20. That miniature carving makes me wonder about people who do stuff like that. Pretty amazing.

    The story about the bird nest in the train makes me think about the wren nest I found in the peak of my canoe one year. We used a different canoe to float that month. The canoe was upside down and I’m afraid righting it to use it would have severely discommoded the inhabitants of the nest.

    • Did you check out the rest of the miniature carvings? They’re really cool too.

  21. And duck? Why duck rhymes with . . .

  22. These birds have a good memory.
    I metaphorically retched when i saw that Hasselhoff pic.
    Sorry, i’m just sayin’ 😀

  23. Holes in trees are dangerous – no telling what can get caught in them!

  24. I like my nests like I like my flights: first class.

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