Why have there always been so many ducks in Stowmarket?

Why have there always been so many ducks in Stowmarket?

Why have there always been so many ducks in Stowmarket? - Credit: ALEX FAIRFULL/STOWMARKET TOWN COUNCIL

If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck – it's probably a duck.

And if you can see a lot of them – you may well be in Stowmarket.

The mid-Suffolk town has long had a large population of mallards which can be seen wandering around the town centre and holding up traffic.

Mayor Keith Scarff says the birds have been ever-present during the 30 years he has lived in the town.

He said: "It's always fun to see them.

"They hold the traffic up sometimes when they cross the road. You see the traffic stopped and think 'why's the traffic stopped?'.

Ducks holding up traffic in Stowmarket town centre in 2012.

Ducks holding up traffic in Stowmarket town centre in 2012. - Credit: Anthony Burn/citizenside.com

"Then you see a parade of ducks crossing the road, completely oblivious to the fact that they're crossing a highway and if somebody hadn't stopped it would've been a massacre.

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"They bring a cheer to people when they see them.

"I think they'll appear anywhere people lay food out for them and lots of people do lay food out for them – I know the youngsters like feeding them.

"But they do have their favourite haunts."

Stowmarket has long been home to a large population of ducks. Pictured: Ducks near Asda in Stowmarket in 2003.

Stowmarket has long been home to a large population of ducks. Pictured: Ducks near Asda in Stowmarket in 2003. - Credit: JOHN KERR

According to Suffolk Wildlife Trust artificial feeding can increase duck populations to such an extent that they damage natural habitats.

The wildlife group warns that artificially feeding ducks on a small body of water can "lead to visually unattractive muddy ponds devoid of plants and species-poor habitats".

Some of Stowmarket's many mallards.

Some of Stowmarket's many mallards. - Credit: ALEX FAIRFULL

However, Mayor Scarff said there may actually be fewer ducks in the town at the moment than in past years.

"I go down to the river quite regularly with the Pickerel project and from our experience we haven't seen as many down in the river," he said.

"There's usually quite large numbers in between Station Road and up to the bridge.

"They quite often get up as far as behind Barnards but we haven't seen quite so many – maybe they're in town doing other things."

Suffolk Wildlife Trust bosses say artificial feeding of ducks can damage habitats.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust bosses say artificial feeding of ducks can damage habitats. - Credit: ALEX FAIRFULL