Tales from the Tow Path

Yesterday me and my little boy went to buy bread and milk from our local store.  We stopped off at the park for a while then we set off to walk back home.  We took the canal route and some charming ducks swam up to greet us.  I think they could smell the fresh loaf of bread that I was carrying because as soon as we hit the tow-path they multiplied in numbers.

I am aware that you shouldn’t feed ducks because it makes them tame and dependent on us and it reduces their foraging instincts.  And normally, because of this, I won’t feed them but I kid you not, they-knew-we-had-bread.  And they appeared from nowhere … in two’s and three’s … then in fours and fives, until there was a whole menacing flock of them, stalking us with a sinister Hitchcock-like intent.  And they got noisy and proceeded to harrass us mercilessly till we got our bread out.  With that, and my little boy begging me to let him feed them, I relented but said we could do just one slice each while explaining why we shouldn’t really. 

Strangely (and I’m not at all sure why I’m telling you this), I read recently that “feeding the ducks” is an urban term for male masturbation because of the similar hand motions, and I have to say, knowing this, I was very conscious about how I chucked the bread into the water. 

Anyhoo, I was happily feeding the ducks throwing my slice of bread to the ducks when me laddy spotted a duck with a plastic ring from a four-pack stuck around it’s neck and right inside the back of its beak.  We watched as it grabbed pieces of bread and chewed and chomped with agonising futility before giving up and spitting it out.  The poor thing just couldn’t swallow because part of the plastic ring was lodged in the back of its throat.  My boy got quite concerned and tried his best to get the duck to come out of the water so he could free it from this dreadful piece of discarded plastic that would eventually kill it.  It was actually quite sweet watching him try to entice the duck out of the water – clicking his fingers and talking to it as if it was a dog.

There were some guys further up the canal with fishing rods and nets.  We asked if we could use their net to try and grab the duck but they said they’d been trying all afternoon and the petrified bird just kept flying away. 

Of course my son received a five minute talk about the careless disregard some people have for their litter and that we should always cut up those plastic ring things, even when we discard of them responsibly because you never know where they might end up.  We walked away on the promise to my son that I would call the RSPCA when we got home but he couldn’t take his mind off the duck and he constantly reminded me to hurry up or it would starve and die.  Anyway, his concern was momentarily lost when, much to our delight, we saw a lovely duckie sitting on a brood of chicks and they all scrambled up the banking to meet us in the hope of some breadcrumbs.  They were so sweet and small and they kept falling into the water.  And they distracted my little boy for a while from all his oh-so-worldy worries and woes about the stupidity of people and the harshness of nature. 

It did occur to me though; I’m no expert in duck knowledge but isn’t it rather late in the year for little ducklings to arrive?  Well if it is then it’s surely due to George Bush climate change.

Anyway, I’m bored with this post now so I’ll quickly round up.  For the remainder of the walk along the tow-path we stopped and chatted to all the dogs taking their owners out for walkies . . .  we dodged the runners and the cyclists (and the dog-poo) . . . we climbed a tree . . .  we collected golf-balls . . .  we had a spinning jenny contest (not the multi-spool textile thingies but the seeds that drop off Sycamore trees and spin down when you throw them in the air.  Sometimes they’re known as helicopters but being a Northern gal and the Spinning Jenny being invented by us folks up north, we deservedly chose to name them after our invention) . . . we played I-spy and I answered a gazillion of my sons questions on the mysteries of life.  Oh, and my son says he wants to be a “man-who-rescues-animals” when he grows up.  I tried to brainwash him into believing that being a Vetinarian would be better but he said they just sit there and wait and he wants to be on the frontline.  Well he didn’t actually say “frontline” but you know….dramatic effect and all that.

T’was a lovely pleasant evening but I know that what you’re all really dying to know is what happened to the poor old duck that was being slowly strangled by a plastic ring.  Well I called the RSPCA when we got home and guess what they said?  They said that if I was so concerned, I should go in myself and sort it.  Well, red rag to a bull or what?  So, we are going back today, equipped with nets, wading boots and waterproofs and if we find the duck (alive), we are going in. 

GULP!  It’s been great knowing you folks.


14 responses to this post.

  1. […] House Tales from the Tow Path » This Summary is from an article posted at Earthpal on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 […]


  2. Good for you! 😉


  3. Those plastic rings hurt fish, also. Our older son, a big tropical fish student and lover, breaks all six so they can’t cause such harm.


  4. Misslionheart, thanks.

    Helen, yes I cut them up too. They can be lethal for small animals.

    We went to the canal today but the duck was nowhere to be found. At least I didn’t have to wade into the grimy water. In all honesty, I’m not so sure that I would have done anyway unless my little boy placed me under direct threat if I didn’t.


  5. Earthie,
    you had a lovely lovely day 🙂
    (inspite of the little hurt duckie.)
    I honestly cannot remember when I last had a day like that.

    Life has become caught up in
    jobs, responsibilities and expectations.
    What I wouldn’t give for a day with no worryings.
    Only if.


  6. Watch out for the killer slugs!


    Good to see the ‘Supreme Court’ isn’t ducking its responsibilities (no.1 comment) 🙂


  7. The poor duck!

    There is a scarred seal at the Melbourne zoo that was saved after close encounters with discarded plastic. What a shame the duck wasn’t so lucky.


  8. Nice account of a nice morning, darkened by that duck’s predicament.

    Yes, Earthpal, it is sad to see that those societies set up to help animals only think of profit. It is every day more and more a materialistic world.


  9. Ah yes, the Spinning Jenny.

    Remember playing with them when you were younger? We used to throw them up in the air and watch them flutter down. So pretty…


  10. OK everyone, lets tickle earthpal’s feet to wake her up!

    Ready, GO! …… 🙂


  11. Helen, yes I cut them up too.
    MissyL, yep, many a happy childhood hour spent collecting them and spinning to my hearts content.
    Little Indian, t’was a lovely day – one of those simple and impromptu days. The rush of life gets in the way but we should make more time for ‘moments’.
    Hi Bindi, I would imagine the poor duckie has starved by now. Those things are lethal but they don’t have to be.
    Yes, Jose, I was really surprised at their attitude. They’re quick enough to accept our monetary gifts and they should remember why people donate their hard-earned cash.
    @ Matty . . . ok, that woke me. . . . giggling and kicking my feet. Now for the pedicure please. 😀


  12. I was the one who drew the short straw to give you a pedicure, but backed out…

    Your feet *STINK*! 😐


  13. Do they!! Oh! 🙂


  14. I guess it must be with all the walking I’m doing due to lack of vehicle. Keeping me fit though – and trim. 😀


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