This film is part of Free

Duck-ringing at Orielton Decoy Pond - Jan 1938

Once 10,000 ducks regularly visited the 14 acre Orielton lake, Pembroke, but intensive farming has affected the habitat and few are now seen.

Amateur film 1938 10 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales


Ringing ducks at Orielton to trace migratory routes involved trapping them on the lake in a ‘pipe’ - a wire cage getting progressively narrower. A stuffed fox with a waggly tail (‘Charles James’) was an essential prop, used in conjunction with a live dog to encourage the ducks into the pipe (ducks mass to face a canine threat). The process was controlled by decoyman S J Greenslade, who carried a lighted peat to hide his human scent. He lowered a trap door to complete the capture.

Film shot by Cyril Winthrop Mackworth-Praed (1891-1974), whose family owned Orielton c.1900-1938. He was an ornithologist of note and the winner of gold and silver medals at the 1924 Olympics for shooting. With fellow multi-talented ornithologist Captain H A Gilbert (1886-1960), he re-opened the Orielton Decoy in 1934 (which continued after the sale of the estate in 1938). It had been used to trap ducks for eating from 1877 but closed in 1918 when ducks were shot on the site instead. This use of a decoy – for ringing rather than killing - was pioneering in Britain. Orielton was owned by naturalist Ronald Mathias Lockley 1954-63. [See David Saunders on Orielton in ‘British Wildlife’, Vol 20 No 1, Oct 2008.]