CLM Spring issue 2018 - Page 24

Duck decoys: stars of the pond landscape
Abbey, the Country Park Management Plan states
that two of the decoy pipes are to be restored as part
of the aim to bring the decoy back into working
condition. At Fritton Lake, on the Norfolk–Suffolk
border, the Great Yarmouth Wildfowling and
Conservation volunteers rebuilt one pipe of the
former decoy as a tourist attraction within Fritton
Lake Country Park, although it subsequently
suffered damage from a wind-blown oak tree.
The term ‘decoy’ was later applied to flightponds, to which ducks were attracted to be shot
rather than trapped. Thus, many ‘decoy ponds’ on
maps never had any pipe structure associated with
them, making it awkward to identify true former
decoy sites. Nevertheless, there remain quite a
few relict pipe decoys, surprisingly large numbers
– rather more than Payne-Gallwey noted – being
listed in county Historic Environment Records.
Suffolk HER recognises 25 sites, all on the coast
except for one inland (Lakenheath), and Essex
lists nearly 40, including one actually in Greater
London at Rainham Marshes.
The total of just three decoys still being used
for their original bird-trapping purpose represents
a decline even since the previous review (Heaton
2001), when four decoys were regularly catching.
This decline needs to be stopped now, and reversed.
With much interest in the historic environment,
and funding available through agri-environment
schemes, major projects such as ‘Wet Fens for the
Future’, and various pond initiatives, it may be that
more of these fascinating features could be brought
back to something close to their original form.
Thanks go to all the decoy-owners, decoymen,
HER custodians, WWT staff and everyone else
who has supplied information, and to Anne and
David Heaton for checking copy.
Cocker, M., & Mabey, R. 2005. Birds Britannica. Chatto & Windus,
Collins, W. 1876. The Two Destinies. Chatto & Windus, London.
Cook, A., & Pilcher, R. E. M. 1982. The History of Borough Fen Decoy.
Providence Press, Ely.
Day, J. W. 1981. The Duck Decoys of Suffolk. East Anglian Magazine
40: 122–125.
Defoe, D. 1727. A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain
Heaton, A. M. 2001. Duck Decoys. Shire Books, Princes Risborough.
Kear, J. 1990. Man and Wildfowl. Poyser, London.
A decoyman scares the ducks into the net. From
Payne-Gallwey (1886)
Limbert , M. 1978. The Old Duck Decoys of South-East Yorkshire.
Naturalist 103: 95–103.
Limbert, M. 1982. The Duck Decoys of South-East Yorkshire: an addendum. Naturalist 107: 69–71.
Limbert, M. 1998. The Natural Harvest of Thorne Moors. Thorne and
Hatfield Moors Papers Vol 5: 22–35.
Lockley, R. 1977. Orielton: the human and natural history of a Welsh
manor. Andre Deutsch, London.
Lorand, S., & Atkin, K. 1989. The Birds of Lincolnshire and South
Humberside. Leading Edge Press, Hawes.
Matthews, G. V. T. 1969. Nacton Decoy and its catches. Wildfowl 20:
McDonnell, R. R. J. 1984. Duck Decoys in Somerset, a gazetteer. Proc.
Somerset Arch. and Nat. Hist. Soc. 128: 25–30.
National Trust. 1991. Boarstall Duck Decoy. National Trust. 16pp.
Payne-Gallwey, R. 1886. The Book of Duck Decoys, their construction,
management and history. John van Voorst, London. Available at:
Prendergast, E. D. V. 1987. Dorset Decoys: Abbotsbury and Morden.
Dorset Nat. Hist. and Arch. Soc.
Roebuck, A. 1934. Lincolnshire Duck Decoys. Lincolnshire Magazine
2: 134–138.
Saunders, D. 2008. “For Five Shillings this duck can be yours” – a
history of the Orielton Decoy. British Wildlife 20(1): 37–43.
Shrubb, M. 2013. Feasting, Fowling and Feathers: a history of the
exploitation of wild birds. Poyser, London.
Stott, T., & Mitchell, C. 1991. Orielton Duck Decoy: the story of its
decline. Field Studies 7: 759–769.
Whitaker, J. 1918. British Duck Decoys of Today, 1918. Barlington
Publishing, London. Available at:
Andrew M. Heaton was formerly a Regional
Conservation Officer with the Environment Agency
Midlands Region. Now retired, he keeps himself
busy as Leicestershire and Rutland County Recorder
for fish, amphibians and reptiles.
170 British Wildlife February 2016
BWM27_3 04 duck decoys.indd 170
29/01/2016 12:55


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