the luckless duck

A letter to the Editor of The Times, May 1878

Sir,

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