Duck Feeder Proving A Hit At Carrigaline Community Park
Writes Leo McMahon
Enterprising Carrigaline resident Matthew Knight has done his community, birdlife and the environment proud by building and installing a duck feeder vending machine at the local Community Park.
Located near the bird feeding station at the lagoon, it was installed in late September and all you have to do is insert a 50 cent coin for a generous tray full of healthy, wholesome meal the ducks will delight in. Just bring along your own receptacle for easy use.
Born in Kent, Matt moved to Clapham, London at an early age. He came to Ireland in November 2019, just a month before son Oscar was born and three months before the start of the first Covid lockdown. Today, he runs financial consultancy (KBS) and tech businesses from the family home at Forest Hill, Carrigaline.
Speaking to Matt who, with Oscar, was surrounded by ducks at the feeding station, I asked how the project come about. ‘Oscar would love to come to the park to look at the birds and feed the ducks, especially during Covid. I noticed that some people were chucking loads of bread which is unhealthy for birds and the eco-system. As it rots, it causes a build-up of sludge and surface algae which can kill local wildlife and gives ducks diseases.
Initially, said Matt, he enquired from local firms if duck feeders existed and one came back to him with a price of €80,000! This inspired him to design and build one himself, having met with a positive response from Cork County Council, and in particular area supervisor Pat O’Sullivan.
‘I started from my back garden in early September. The duck feeder is steel framed but clad in timber with artificial grass on top and I modified a gumball sweet dispensing machine. The entire device is bolted to a concrete block and conveniently located next to the feeding station and a park bench.
Information about feeding ducks, who also like seedless grapes, peas, barley, oats and chopped lettuce, is displayed and there’s a QR code which can be scanned by smartphone for linking to the website www.feedducks.com/carrigalinepark. Created by Matt, using his techno skills, it has information and fun facts (e.g. male mallard ducks don’t quack!) about the different roosting and breeding birds you can expect to see at the lagoon and Owenabue River estuary.
Excuse the pun, but what has been the feedback? I asked Matt. ‘Really good from what I’ve seen online. It’s something kids really enjoy doing including Oscar. We need more inter-active outdoor things like this in the community for families, people living alone and the elderly.’
The food is high in protein and low in carbohydrate which is ideal for ducks, geese and wildfowl. One thing’s for sure, there’s now a colony of up to 50 ducks and they’re loving it!
‘Building something physically is very rewarding’, said 31 years old Matt who plans to install his next duck feeder at The Lough in Cork made of recycled plastic and be contactless. The project is supported by the Cork local authorities through the Feed the Ducks Initiative. He has also had enquiries from Dublin City Council for his feeders which can be solar powered.
Great credit is due to Matt and also Cork County Council, Carrigaline Tidy Towns, Men’s Shed and other community groups whose efforts in recent years have resulted in a major upgrade of an environmentally friendly community park that also comprises a playground, exercise zone, skateboard park, bandstand, running circuit, a rose garden, benches and scenic pathways in close proximity to the community centre, car park and multi-use games area.