DUCKS are laying their eggs in plant pots outside a housing complex after they were forced from their nesting island by mindless yobs.
The pond in Hartlepool’s Rossmere Park is usually a nesting haven for the ducks, but after egg-snatchers and vandals destroyed their habitat they are now making nests in pots in a nearby housing complex.
The RSPB slammed thieves who are reported to have taken the eggs, and councillors have also hit out at yobs after reports of anti-social behaviour in the popular park.
Today, pensioners Betty Woolston and John Kelly told the Mail how they had been feeding one bird who had decided to lay her eggs in a herb pot outside of their home off Ardrossan Road.
Betty, 78, a former Siemens factory worker, said: “She’s been there for days now sitting on them eggs poor thing, there’s six of them.
“The poor ducks have got nowhere else to go with the idiots destroying their eggs in the park. Isn’t it awful how a bird has to resort to this sitting on a plant pot to lay it’s eggs?
“There’ll be no babies this year, although saying that, we’re going to make sure that there’s six here. We’ve been giving her a drink and a bit of bread.”
Father-of-four John, a retired rigger said: “I don’t know what kind of minds people have, they must be sick.”
Councillor Alison Lilley, Putting Hartlepool First representative from the Fens & Rossmere ward, heard about the sad plight of the ducks from a concerned resident. She said she has informed police about the incident.
Coun Lilley said: “I was told about a guy who got on to the island and stole lots of eggs. Residents have been telling me how the poor birds are now laying the eggs in their flowerpots in their gardens because they won’t go back to the same spot.
“But then because the plant pots are less sheltered, then they’re easy targets for the seagulls to come and take the eggs.
“The minority are spoiling it for the majority. It upsets everybody because these poor ducks are trying to breed with the greatest of difficulty.”
She added: “Everybody likes to see the ducks and ducklings in the park. They might be wild animals, but we have a responsibility to protect them.”
A spokesman for the RSPB told the Mail that ducks usually have one brood per breeding season, but if eggs do fail first time round they nest elsewhere.
He said: “It sounds like that is what has happened here.
“They will also go to a different place, and find an alternative nesting site.
“Gulls are known to pinch duck eggs and if the gardens in which the ducks are now laying their eggs are less sheltered than the island, then they will steal them I’m afraid.”
He added: “This sounds like a cruel and pointless crime and we would urge anyone with information about who has done this to contact police.
“Stealing wild eggs is illegal and can bring up to six months imprisonment or a £5,000 fine.”
He urged anyone who finds ducks nesting in their gardens to “just leave them to it”.
Reports of the eggs being stolen have not been made to the council, though local authority chiefs are aware of various incidents of anti-social behaviour at the park in recent days.
Chris Wenlock, parks and countryside manager with Hartlepool Council, said: “Regrettably, all of our parks suffer from anti-social behaviour and vandalism on occasions. However, we are not aware of the claim that duck eggs have been stolen from the park.
“As a council we work very hard to look after our parks with limited resources and we would urge people to report anti-social behaviour and criminal activity to the police.”
A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said the incident has been brought to their attention. She said: “We will be keeping an eye on the area and increasing patrols.”
Anyone with any information is asked to contact PC Andy Bennett, of the Rossmere Neighbourhood Policing Team, on 101.
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