After my last post, there seemed to be some interest in an expansion of my 'I once got mugged by a duck' comment. So here it is.
One lovely summer's day, I decided that I would get out of the office at lunchtime, and eat my sandwiches in the University Parks. As I sat myself down in a pretty spot by the river and started to unpack my lunch, the ducks started to gather. One duck in particular — or drake to be absolutely biologically-accurate — caught my attention. He was extremely tame, and came right up to me quite boldly. I noticed that he had one deformed foot. It looked like a congenital condition, so I thought that he had probably developed this excessively friendly attitude in order to survive. Sucker that I am, I started to toss bits of my sandwich his way. Gradually, the other ducks started to get bored and leave, as this tame duck was menacing the others and getting all the food. In retrospect, I should have found this slightly disturbing.
Eventually, I came to the end of my sandwich, and told this drake (who was now staring at me fixedly) that there was no more food. Yes, I know that I'm supposed to be a rational, analytical scientist, but I do sometimes catch myself talking out loud to animals. I blame 'Watership Down'. As I was admiring the view and thinking about getting back to the office, I felt a tug on the sleeve of my T-shirt: it was the drake. I laughed, and told him that I really didn't have any more food to give him. That was when the pecking started. Despite what you might have been led to believe by The Goodies song, 'A Man's Best Friend is his Duck', they do not "give you a nasty suck", but a rather painful pinch. They get a big chunk of exposed skin and squeeze. There's no long term damage, but it isn't something you want to have to endure.
I had visions of being marched to the nearest café and being forced to buy sandwiches at beakpoint. In the end, I just ran way, feeling more than a little foolish. He couldn't keep up with me with his deformed foot.