Hit on the Head With a Mallard! (sorry this should have gone in bridge stories but something went wrong!)

One morning about 18 months ago, it was incredibly windy on the bridge – probably 70-80 miles per hour and I was having trouble staying upright! Lots of people told me that they didn’t know how I was managing to stand there, but if the only alternative is going hungry then you can put up with almost anything! Where I stand, I am above a road going under the southern end of London Bridge and it disappears into the tunnel just below me. After a while, I was startled to see a duck out of the corner of my eye, just as he crashed into the concrete above the tunnel entrance, a few feet along from my pitch. He fell straight down into the tunnel entrance and disappeared inside. A man was approaching along the street and I asked him if he could see a duck in the tunnel – he said that he could so I asked him what the duck looked like. He told me that it looked like a duck!! I clarified the question by asking him if the duck was injured or if it looked stunned and he told me that it was uninjured but that, yes, it did look a little out of it, although it was improving as the man watched. The man walked off and after a few minutes the duck, a male mallard, walked out from the tunnel and started off down the road. Every so often the bird looked back at the tunnel as if trying to judge how long a run up it would need to fly up onto the bridge above in the prevailing wind. Eventually, the duck, by now almost out of sight down the road, turned and put its all into taking off. It ran and flapped frantically towards me and finally took off, but due to the strong wind it only just managed to skim over the railings next to me. I jumped back to avoid being hit, but the duck, being at such a low altitude, ended up colliding with the head of a commuter instead! The poor man was clouted in the head by a large mallard; he clapped his hands to his head in pain and the lady who was walking with him screamed loudly. The poor duck fell to the floor, dazed and exhausted by the effort. As people gathered round to see that the couple were alright, I ran to the duck and made sure that it was over to the side of the pavement, out of the way. Eventually, everyone disbursed and a few minutes later the mallard also managed to stumble off to the river, almost back to normal. I couldn’t help but wonder if the gentleman had to cry off work due to him being hit in the head by a mallard.

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