The runner ducks with wildfowl at the pools | images by Charlotte Davies
The runner ducks with wildfowl at the pools | images by Charlotte Davies

Lickey rangers today sought to reassure local people who are concerned for the welfare of two hybrid Mallard / Indian Runner Ducks on Lickey Hills duck ponds.

The flightless birds are favourites with visitors to the country park, including staff and customers at the Lickey Lips Cafe, next to the duck ponds and golf course on Rose Hill.

The pools require extensive renovation works so have been fenced off and drained. The work will continue until June. The runner ducks cannot fly and are currently behind the fencing in the drained and silt filled ponds.

Clare Gibbs, who works at the cafe, said: “I pointed them out to the rangers weeks ago and said that I would do my best to help capture and relocate. The lovely ladies at Tardibigge Farm Sanctuary are willing to rehome them for the duration of the work and have lent me a box and net but, as they’re fenced in and now spooked, I can’t catch them.

“… several customers asked what was going to happen with them and who was going to rescue them.”

Clare, and others, informed the Lickey Hills Rangers and the RSPCA but they feel it is best to leave the ducks at the moment, fearing attempts to capture them could cause them a huge amount of stress and, ultimately, may lead to their deaths.

Senior Northfield ranger Steve Hinton explained: “To remove the [hybrid] ducks, which are highly mobile, would lead to a stressful chase for the ducks and, in all probability, this would end in their deaths through stress or stress related illnesses.

“The two ducks, who are hand tame, have realised that people want them caught and are being cautious which reduces the chances of us catching them.” he added.

Steve points out that many of the wild ducks at the site have also stayed as they are being well fed by visitors to the area. He told us: “The majority of the wildfowl on the pool are wild and are able to find alternative bodies of water if they wish to. At the moment they are content to stay where they are due to the amount of freely and easily accessible food they receive daily.”

Clare, however, is adamant that the ducks should be moved and thinks that: “[…] leaving them in a muddy hole, now drained with no shelter or safe ground and no means of escape, [is] animal cruelty.”

But rangers assured us that they are keeping a close eye on the birds in order to protect their welfare. Steve told us: “We have met with an RSPCA inspector today and the consensus is, at this point in time, attempting to chase down and catch the two ducks would be counterproductive to their health and to the other ducks currently using the pool. We will continue to monitor the situation along with the RSPCA.”


  1. I guess I can do no more now which is really quite upsetting. I’ve been seeing these birds nearly everyday for over 5 years and this in my opinion is a death sentence. Will they catch them when they are literally stuck in the mud? Are they aware that every evening the other ducks fly off and leave the 2 runners as pretty much the only ducks on the pond. They fly in again between 8-9 in the morning. There is no safety in numbers at night. And how long will they continue to fly in when there is no water to land on? I can appreciate the rangers do not want to cause further distress to the birds but their current situation IS distressful to those birds and only going to get WORSE. Myself and the ladies at the cafe spend many hours observing these ducks, the rangers do not.

  2. I bet the RSPCA would’ve been more interested if there had been a film crew present. As for the rangers statement it is certainly true that there are lots of people that like to come and feed the birds on the pond. However there aren’t many that want to come and throw bread over a fence into a muddy hole. Totally ridiculous!

  3. Right if I might reply, first, despite these ducks being resident for the last 2/3 years I had to point them out to the ranger who came down to the ponds he had no idea of their presence, so my argument on that point if a full preliminary impact survey was completed (which surely it should of) why we’re they not picked up on then when it would of been easy to catch them? As far as stressing the animals goes we have watched one of these ducks be caught by a dog, play dead till the dog dropped him get up and run away (now that’s stress) yet he is still here. Next as far as the rangers promise to monitor the ducks regularly, it’ll be a lovely change to see them over this side of the park, yet I somehow suspect this is an empty promise, if I thought for a moment that they would monitor their welfare I would be happy, but when you call them to discuss the best ways forward and Are told “its not my problem if some has dumped two domestic ducks, what do you want me to do about it”. You get a little bit annoyed and think of ways to make them take responsibility. My main concern now is that as I understand it they will be dropping an excavator into the pond to remove silt, do we not perhaps think that this may stress the fowl, if anyone could clarify. This and put my mind at rest on the best way to ensure their welfare.

  4. Has anybody got any knowledge about the hundreds of clamshells that are exposed now the ponds have be drained? What will happen to them.

    Reguarding the ducks they will have to be caught in the end so the work can be finished surely


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