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Friday, September 9, 2011

Ducking out for a pint: The pet who's just quackers about her master... and even follows him to the PUB

By Emma Reynolds

Beer and birds: Barrie Hayman with Star, the 11-week-old duckling who loves a drink down his local

Children have long loved Hans Christian Anderson's story of the Ugly Duckling, who became an outcast after his friends and family rejected him.

But now another unwanted little bird has found solace with a human 'father'.

And he has taken such a shine to the 65-year-old that he will follow him everywhere - even to the pub.

The 11-week-old duckling watches rugby, goes shopping at Tesco and even has his own Facebook page.

Barrie Hayman rescued Star when he spotted the Indian Runner Duck doing a 'distressed waddling dance' - rather like Mumble's in kids' film Happy Feet - when he was only a few days old.

'He just won't leave me and so now we go everywhere together,' said Mr Hayman, who has been breeding ducks for 18 months. 'I've not trained him to follow me, he just seems to like it and he is one fantastic duck - I've never known any like it before.

'He comes to the pub, where everyone loves him and we'll be watching his first world cup together next week.

Feathered friend: Indian Runner Duck Star was plucked from his incubator when he was showing signs of distress at just a few days old

'He just won't mix at all with the other ducks and became distressed when I tried to put him with them.'

The grandfather-of-one, who trains his flock for duck trials, said he gets a few shocked faces as he takes Star around his hometown of Eastleigh, near Bideford in north Devon.

'When he was younger, I would put him in my pocket while I did my shopping.

'Now he's bigger, he happily waits in the foyer of my local Tesco as I nip in. He's not fazed at all.

'I try not to keep him there too long in case someone pinches him, but he's quite happy waiting.'

Wing man: Mr Hayman out on the town with his devoted pet, who even follows him to the supermarket

Mr Hayman, who used to teach scuba diving in Australia, began looking after ducks at the Big Sheep in Abbotsham, north Devon, six years ago.

He now has 10 ducks and 12 ducklings, plus six from the Big Sheep in winter.

But he says he knew Star was different from the moment he was born - so he plucked the baby duckling out of the incubator and took him home to wife Sue.

Luckily Mrs Hayman, an operations manager, shares her husband's affection for the tiny creature.

Star now has a Facebook page, under the name Star Hayman, which lists his favourite books as The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, Animal Farm and Charlotte's Web.

His top activities include 'quacking' and the profile also says: 'I am an Indian Runner Duck. My daddy is my best friend. I love wriggly worms and I follow my dad everywhere. I watch TV with him, especially rugby, and I even share his beer!'

Mr Hayman added: 'He is such a personality and attracts so much attention. Children just seem to love him.

'You get a few shocked faces walking into a shop with a duck following you.

'He did get a bad reception at one place, but everyone else seems to just love him - he is becoming a bit of an exhibitionist.'

'He is 11 weeks old now and going through the ugly duckling stage, but I know he will be magnificent soon.'



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