Quacks are back at north Norfolk village pond devastated in storm surge
- Credit: Ian Burt
They may be the noisiest and greediest residents of a picturesque north Norfolk village – but everybody is delighted to see them back.
Blakeney's Conservation Duck Pond is once again home to scores of happy quackers who are proving a big hit with residents and visitors.
In fact the quayside duck pond has been ranked third in the list of Blakeney's top attractions on the TripAdvisor travel website.
But it was a very different story three years ago next week when the devastating storm surge of December 5, 2013 inundated the freshwater pond with seawater, sweeping away fencing and drowning its residents.
'There were ducks spread all over the marsh, a lot of them dead. They had been smashed against the netting and crushed,' said Colin 'Cobo' Cobon, who had looked after the pond since if was created in 1977 by Blakeney and District Wildfowlers' Association to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee.
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'I was absolutely gutted – there's no other words for it. I saw more than 30 years of work lost overnight – it had totally disappeared.
'I was standing there and a woman came up and said: 'I can see you're hurting, take this to start again.' She gave me an envelope with £500 in it.'
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Restoration, including re-instating fences and other infrastructure, began last year, helped by more generous donations from individuals, Blakeney Parish Council, local businesses and organisations.
'They all wanted their village pond back,' said 82-year-old Cobo.
He has been joined by active wildfowlers' association volunteers Don Clipps and Hilary Glossop, plus a rota of about 20 people who take it in turns to feed the ducks with corn each day.
Mrs Glossop said they had now restocked the pond by buying 43 pairs of different sorts of ducks, plus some geese, including hooded merganser, mandarin, ruddy shelduck, pochard, cinnamon teal, smew, Carolina, white-faced whistling duck and northern pintail. The latter features on the pond's logo. Christmas cards sporting Blakeney pond ducks, and the sale of £1 bags of duck food also help cover the estimated £4,500 annual cost of maintaining the attraction.
The pond has a fan club which spreads far beyond Blakeney. One Warwickshire couple who occasionally visit the village recently donated £160 to buy a pair of eider duck for the pond. And pond-side benches soon fill with visiting picnickers happy to sit and gaze.
Cobo said: 'On a sunny day, if you're not there by 9am you won't get a seat.'