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Mum told to feed ducks granary bread

The ducks didn’t appear to mind as they flapped and quacked around Lisa Taplin and her two children in the park.

But the bread Mrs Taplin was throwing at them did not meet the approval of a council warden.

The park ranger advised Mrs Taplin that white bread was “unhealthy” and that she should give the ducks granary or wholemeal in future.

He told her that the white bread was the equivalent of giving her sons chips with every meal.

“I was a bit stunned”, said Mrs Taplin, 34, a dance teacher, who was visiting the pond near her home in Hailsham, England, with her sons Luke, four and Dylan, two.

She said: "There were loads of ducks around us and they looked quite hungry.

We had about five slices of bread and we all threw bits towards them. The ducks fought a little over them but they seemed to enjoy it.

"Then a man in a fluorescent waistcoat who was holding a litter, pick up stick came over to me and said 'I know you mean well but giving them white bread is not good for them.'

“He said next time if I brought wholemeal, granary or bird seed that would be better for them.”

Mrs Taplin said she was left feeling guilty for apparently leaving the ducks malnourished.

In 2008 Herefordshire Council banned people from feeding the animals bread as it was deemed to be harmful to them and discouraged them from foraging for food.

In the same year the RSPB urged the public not to feed any bird, including ducks, with bread as they claimed it fills up their stomachs and doesn't give them nutrients.

The naturalist, Chris Packham, presenter of the BBC programme Autumn Watch, said bread was “not the best thing” to feed the ducks, but people, especially children, should not be discouraged from maintaining the tradition.

He said: "I wouldn't stop anyone from feeding birds. We send out the message that wildlife needs our help all the time so it seems a bit churlish to tell people what food to use.”

He added: "One of my earliest memories as a child was feeding the ducks at Arundel, there was an extraordinary variety of shapes and colours and that helped form my love for wildlife.”

Nickey (corr) Caria, deputy town clerk at Hailsham Town Council, said: "We have been advised by an animal rescue centre that the public should be urged not to feed white bread to wild birds as it is bad for them.

"The vets did some research which showed birds struggle to digest it.

"We do have a pond warden who looks after the site and he has been advised to pass on this advice.

"This is just advice that we are giving members of the public, we won't take any action against anybody."