Your views: We need to rethink what we are feeding the ducks at Leamington's Jephson Gardens

In this first person piece, Ignaty Dyakov-Richmond shares his views on a matter that got people talking on social media

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 4:51 pm
Most people in Leamington have fed the ducks in Jephson Gardens.

Who knew that feeding ducks in Leamington would cause such a debate? When Ignaty Dyakov-Richmond shared his views on the matter on social media, he got a wide range of responses. In this first person piece, here are his views on an issue that has got people talking.

I would struggle to find a Leamingtonian, who has never fed ducks in Jephson Gardens or along the canal. Indeed, many of us do it regularly and encourage our children to kindly help our winged neighbours throughout winter. Usually, one would head to their cupboard to check whether we have any bread leftovers or pop into a local shop and buy a sliced white loaf on the way to the park. But as we are changing our dietary habits to eat more varied and healthier meals, so should ducks, experts say.

The Canal and River Trust has issued a guide explaining why white bread is bad for birds (and indeed for humans, I must add) and suggesting what to feed them instead. Interestingly, it is the things we should have more of in our diets too and, incidentally, they don’t cost the earth:

- Frozen peas (defrosted) are a great source of minerals, vitamins and protein.

- Lettuce (as well as rocket, iceberg salad etc) are full of vitamins and other important nutrients for healthy digestion (don’t we all occasionally buy too much lettuce and have to throw some of it away – well, now we know what to do with it before it goes off).

- Oats and rice provide good calories, as does sweetcorn.

- Finally, wholemeal bread is a good option too – filling yet a much healthier alternative to white slices. Bread shouldn’t be mouldy, that’s utterly important.

Try to throw the food onto water as ducks (swans and geese too) are safer staying in water when eating. It also helps keep rats away from the food.

When I shared these recommendations on various local groups on Facebook and Nextdoor, most people were excited about the prospect of feeding ducks in healthier ways. Some, though, were concerned that people might stop feeding ducks altogether if they realised that white bread was bad. This, they argue, might lead to ducks starving to death. Thus, they say, it is better to give them something, junk food, rather than nothing. As much as I am positively surprised with the volume of responses my posts have received, I don’t think this information will provoke such dramatic results.

Far from it, as those who haven’t seen my posts will continue with their old ways (at least for some time), whereas many, who now know what ducks would prefer for supper, will be able to provide a healthier variety of feed.

So next time you head out for your walk and decide to feed the ducks, take some peas, sweetcorn, lettuce (or indeed any green leaves), oats, rice, or wholemeal bread. If you teach the same to your children, you will feed two birds with one (wholemeal) scone: make your local ducks healthier and your children more aware of the importance of a simple, yet varied diet.