Urchfont pond guardian left baffled by new arrivals

This Is Wiltshire: The new arrivals, with two usual residents in the foreground The new arrivals, with two usual residents in the foreground

The keeper of the ducks on Urchfont pond got a shock when she went out to feed her brood on Sunday morning – for there were ten more than she had the previous day.

Elaine Bancroft, who looks after the 15 ducks and two geese that live on the pond in the centre of the village, was dismayed to see the new arrivals.

She said: “When I went out on Sunday morning to feed the ducks, there were six of these huge Muscovy ducks on the raft in the middle of the pond.

“Then another four emerged from the bushes. I couldn’t believe my eyes. “Someone has come along and just dumped them there. It is very naughty. “I don’t know if we can afford to feed another ten. These are just babies and full-grown Muscovies are huge.

“It is very expensive to feed the ducks these days. It costs us £9 a fortnight and the price of feed is going through the roof all the time.

“The parish council has already been on to us about having too many ducks so I don’t know what we’re going to do. The RSPCA won’t be interested, because they are in very good condition.”

It is not the first time that the custodians of the pond next to Manor Farm Yard have had to cope with interlopers. Mrs Bancroft, who lives in the village high street, said: “There was a goose that had come from Foxley Fields because the owner’s dog had killed the rest of her gaggle.

“The poor thing was so sad and lonely. It kept looking at its reflection in car doors. But other people in the village donated another goose to keep it company and they are now quite happy together.”

The pond developed when water from the dairy at Manor Farm disgorged its water after washing down the milking stalls. During the hot summers of the 1980s the pond dried up and the village raised funds to have it ‘repuddled’, and a tree that had pierced the skin of the pond removed. The ducks spend each night in a secure duckhouse in Manor Farm Yard and are released each morning. Mrs Bancroft said: “There is no more room in the duckhouse for the new arrivals. The existing ones are already a bit cramped.”

Anyone who knows who might own the Muscovies is asked to make contact with Mrs Bancroft through the Gazette office on (01380) 731692.

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