18 April, 2008

The Delightful Ducks of Dedham Vale

Dedham Vale is the area of the lower River Stour valley, just before the river forms its tidal estuary, on the border between the counties of Suffolk and Essex. The area was beloved by the 19th century landscape painter John Constable, who was born in the nearby village of East Bergholt. Even after he moved to London, the countryside of Dedham Vale provided the material for some of his most famous works, such as The Haywain, which has probably graced more chocolate boxes, inexpensive prints and sets of coasters than any other painting. The National Trust now owns much of the area, and places such as Flatford Mill and the river pastures have hardly changed since Constable painted them. So the area around around Dedham and Flatford gets a steady stream of visitors, much to the delight of the local duck population who must think they live in some sort of promised land.



As soon as you approach Flatford Mill along the river path, whichever duck is on lookout duty will hop out of the water to eye you up as a potential source of food....















.... bringing a friend.....















.... and another.....













.... and yet more friends.....













.... even in the car park the arrival of a car with a child and a bag of bread draws an eager crowd.....









.... no doubt due to this unlimited supply of free food, one enterprising pair had already hatched a brood of 12 or possibly 14 (I lost count) cute little downy ducklings (everybody say "Aaaaaah!") in mid-April, when most birds are still sitting on eggs.

9 comments:

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

Lovely photos Carla.
Re your first one and the mallard eyeing up the camera person as a potential source of food, I'm afraid I eyed up its plumpness and thought 'Yummy, roast duck.'
We have fewer ducks and ducklings round our way at the moment - problems with wild mink.

Susan Higginbotham said...

What cute quackers!

Carla said...

Elizabeth - yes, I was thinking much the same :-) Never mind corn-fed chicken, bring on the Wonderloaf-fed duck! They come so close that I bet you could grab one while your accomplice was feeding them. But it would upset the nice National Trust people.

Susan - yes, aren't they? Especially the fluffy ducklings.

Constance said...

duck...duck...goose...lots of ducks, lots of geese + no food = Run Away!!!

:)

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, by the end of summer they'll be so stuffed that they'll drown.

Bernita said...

Thank you.
I likes duckies.

Sarah Cuthbertson said...

Lovely photos! I'm very fond of ducks. Love to watch the drakes and ducks waddling along and chatter-quacking to each other like so many little old ladies and gentlemen out for a stroll. My favourite ducks are Indian runners ever since I saw "Babe" at the cinema. We missed Constable Country on our too-short holiday in East Anglia last year, so must remedy that next time.

Meghan said...

Those ducks are too cute!!

Carla said...

Constance :-)

Gabriele - fat is less dense than water, so the fatter they get, the easier they float :-)

Bernita, Meghan - Thanks!

Sarah - I somehow managed to miss Babe and have never yet got round to seeing it. Constable Country is well worth a look if you like pretty pastoral countryside; I can see why John Constable fell in love with it.I bet the ducks weren't as well fed in his day, though.