CLM Spring issue 2018 - Page 18



Duck decoys: stars of the pond landscape
Sketched plans of various named decoys, taken from Whitaker (1918), showing the variety of designs possible.
Clockwise from top left they are at Morden, Borough Fen, Berkeley Castle and Hale. Whitaker
the edges. Around the edges would be ‘landings’,
flat short grass where the birds could rest. The
pipes consisted of curving ditches, 60–70 yards
(55–64m) long, which tapered as they led away
from the pond; at the pond edge the pipe width was
18–21 feet (5.5–6.4m), gradually narrowing down
to 2 feet (0.6m) at the far end. The net structure
was supported by a series of hoops straddling each
pipe, spaced at 5-foot (1.5m) intervals. Durable
hoops were made of round iron, but wooden
poles also were used. The first hoop at the pond
edge, with a spread of 21 feet (6.4m), stood 15
feet (4.6m) high above the water. Over the hoops
was stretched diamond-mesh sisal or hemp netting.
Beyond the fixed net, at the narrow end of the pipe,
came the detachable tunnel net (‘purse’), in which
the birds were trapped.
Alongside the pipe ran a series of screens,
consisting of post-and-rail frames with a covering
of reeds (and peep-holes for the decoyman), with
overlapping, low fences running between each
adjacent pair as dog leaps. Around the decoy pond,
woodland was planted to provide a buffer against
disturbance. The far end of each pipe, however, was
left open and unshaded so that it appeared to be a
safe area into which to fly.
164 British Wildlife February 2016
BWM27_3 04 duck decoys.indd 164
29/01/2016 12:55

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