We can all sleep well at night, now that the old adage has finally been proven to be true – it turns out that rainy conditions do indeed make it ‘nice weather for ducks’. Well thank goodness for that! It has long concerned me that the apparently contented quacks of the mallards outside the window are in fact a desperate cry for help, as their feet, feathers and beaks get wet in the inclement English weather.
I mean really, what were we thinking of before these conclusions emerged, simply assuming that the poor creatures enjoyed the regular deluges so common to our British climate?
It is also reassuring to learn that the two scientists from the University of Oxford who carried out the study are said to have used a group of ‘farm ducks’ to conduct their research…would those be mallards then, do we assume?
In an extremely scientific manner the researchers decided to give said ducks access to a shower, a water trough and a pond – and as it turns out they actually enjoyed spending time in the water, often spending a large amount of time drinking from and standing in it – groundbreaking stuff, I hear you say.
Thankfully the results of this ‘research’ seem to have been met with a mix of humour and disdain: Susie Squire of the Taxpayers’ Alliance called the study a ‘bonkers waste of money’. She went on to say that ‘it is common sense that ducks like rain and water. The last thing the government [in the form of Defra] should be allocating scarce resources to is this sort of nonsense.’
Anthony Rew, the Devon chairman of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) reaffirmed these sentiments, referring to the research as – ‘quackers’. He asserted that all that had actually been proven, was that the scientists commissioned by Defra ‘need to get out of London and get on a farm to see how the countryside works, to put policies in place that are practical and well costed. If they had just asked a farmer, he would tell them that ducks like water.’
In defence of the study, Marian Stamp Dawkins, professor of animal behaviour at Oxford pointed to the fact that the ducks seemed to prefer the shower to the pond, suggesting that, contrary to popular belief, swimming was not their number one priority. She further suggested that the research could potentially improve conditions for farmed ducks, who currently use ponds that very quickly become unhygienic and dirty, making them environmentally dubious.
To me, however, this is what’s commonly referred to in cricket as ‘scoring a duck’; achieving absolutely nothing. Still… all water off a duck’s back.