The numbers of ducks caught in Borough Fen Decoy, 1776-1959

W A Cook


In the years since Borough Fen has been operated as a Trust ringing station detailed notes have been made on the numbers of ducks caught. These notes are of immediate value in a number of ways, such as showing which pipes and which methods of catching are most successful at different times, but their greatest general interest lies in the picture they give of seasonal fluctuations in the catch. I have recently been able to examine the books kept by members of the Williams family, who worked the Decoy from about 1670 to 1958, and to compile from them graphs showing the numbers of ducks caught annually during most of the last 180 years. It is intended to make a full study of these records in relation to other decoy catches, shooting bags, and factors such as weather and land rainage which are likely to have affected the numbers of ducks caught. This study will take a long time, but there are a number of obvious features about the annual catch graphs which made their preliminary publication worthwhile.

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