THE BOOK OF DUCK DECOYS.
| "Here was also a small waterfowl, not bigger than a Morehen, that went almost quite erect like the Penguin of America. It would eat as much fish as its whole body weighed. I never saw so unsatiable a devourer, yet yo body did not appear to swell bigger.|
"The Solan Geese here are also great devourers, and are said soon to exhaust all ye fish in a pond.
"Here was a curious sort of poultry, not much exceeding the size of a tame Pigeon . . . . . . a milkwhite Raven, a Stork, which was a rarity at this season, seeing he was loose and could fly loftily. Two Balerian Cranes . . . . . . The Park was at this time stored with numerous flocks of several sorts of ordinary and extraordinary wildfowl breeding about the Decoy, which for being near so great a city is a singular and diverting thing."*
It appears from this that Charles II. was a very prince of bird fanciers he it was who gave the name to Birdcage Walk, for along its trees were hung cages with birds, whose sale and barter he encouraged. On the ground below, and between the trees, were fixed his own aviaries.
At that date Birdcage Walk, and the greater part of St. James's Park, especially what was known as the Inward Park, were kept very quiet and select, and there were most stringent regulations in force to prevent damage occurring to the Royal pets. Edward Storey, whose name is mentioned in the Decoy expenses, was the King's Bird Keeper, and Storey's Gate, at the south-eastern entrance to the Park, derives its name from his house having stood at that point.
Duck Island (the Decoy had long before disappeared) was abolished at the end of the last century, for Pennant remarks, in 1790, that under the new improvement it had lately ceased to exist.
|*Wild-duck now and then visit, and nest in, the Z. S. Gardens in Regent's Park, and regularly appear, during the winter, on the Long water in Kensington Park, as well as, occasionally, even on the Serpentine lake in Hyde Park!|