MYSTERY surrounds the disappearance of Marlborough’s twack of ducks.

They have been reported missing by concerned locals, who fear the worst for their feathered friends.

Questions have been asked at Marlborough Town Council about the disappearance of the popular birds on the River Kennet by Cooper’s Meadow.

Marian Hannaford-Dobson tabled a question to the council meeting last week, and told the Gazette and Herald: “It’s all rather odd. I would really like to know what has happened to them. There are usually so many at this time of the year.”

Conservationists fear the town’s rats might have something to do with it.

Anna Ford, of Action for the River Kennet, said: “Rats will eat duck eggs and ducklings. In Marlborough we have a rat problem.

“Cooper’s Meadow, The Priory and the back of Waitrose are areas where there are a lot of food scraps, including bread and this ready food source supports a healthy rat population, quite happy to snack on a duck egg or two.

“Mallard ducks have many native predators and their eggs and ducklings even more. Fox, stoat, weasel, heron, owl, grey squirrels and other birds of prey, grass snakes and members of the crow family.”

A spokesperson for Marlborough Town Council said: "In the past (but not recently) we have seen a few rats in Coopers Meadow - fairly common wherever there is a river bank.

"We have put baited rat poison in specially built bait stations in the bottom of our litter bins there. Unfortunately, as there’s such a ready food source in the bins and around the area the rats did not eat the bait!

"It’s not clear that rats are responsible for the lack of ducks as our Grounds Team hasn’t come across any feathers or other remains."

In recent years the Kennet in Marlborough has had large populations of both wild ducks and domestic/farm escapees, including Muscovy and Mandarin ducks.

These were not a natural part of the ecology, and they relied on people in the town feeding them in order to survive.

A government report on bird populations published last year showed that mallard ducks are one of the most successful birds in the UK and their numbers have trebled since the 1970s.