Carrigaline has welcomed Cork’s first specialised community duck feed dispenser after one resident came up with a novel idea to help protect the local wildlife.
Matthew Knight was first inspired to turn an old gumball machine into a feeder while watching his two-year-old son Oscar playing with the ducks at the local park.
"There was a lot of time spent at home during lockdown and the closest place to us was the park, so I would take my son there and he really enjoyed watching the ducks,” Mr Knight said.
"I generally knew it was bad to feed them bread and there were signs up but I wondered if there was something more we could do. If we could find a way for people to enjoy interacting with the wildlife more sustainably.”
In his spare time, Mr Knight began to research, discovering that bread can lead to overfeeding or the killing of the wildlife birds feed on.
He started working on a specialised vending machine, which was installed at the park earlier this month.
“I wanted to make sure that it looked nice, but would also stay standing. You’d think it would be simple but it was actually really complicated,” Mr Knight said.
“A family member helped me do the design and then I found an old gumball machine online and repurposed it, learning as I went.
“It's just about giving back to the community. I take care of the restocking and any damage. I work in tech so I created a website where people could learn more about their areas as well.”
The Feed the Ducks Initiative has since gained the support of both Cork County Council and Cork City Council, and work is already underway for another feeder to be placed at The Lough next month.
The solar-powered dispensers can be placed anywhere and The Lough feeder will even have contactless payment technology for those who don’t have a 50c coin on hand.
A QR code on the dispenser can also be scanned to bring those interested to the initiative's website, where they can learn more about feeding tips and their local habitats.
“I would love to help any other jurisdictions looking to set one up. I think it’s a really lovely idea for families and for older people as well. If you’re lonely, it’s a nice way to interact with the environment,” Mr Knight said.
"I always wanted to give back to the community, so it's great to do something that will help children or anyone who might want to learn more about wildlife.”
See www.feedducks.com to get in touch.