A pair of Muscovy ducks are posing a threat to centuries of tradition after taking over bell ringing duties from a group of shy swans. The usurped swans have every right to be in a bit of a flap after the greedy ducks took control of ringing the Bishop’s Palace bell in Somerset. As an 800-year-old custom, the duty is usually taken up by the trained swans that live on the moat in order to get fed.
However the pair of ducks are more than happy to help out and grab some food for themselves. Caretaker Paul Arblaster said: 'The new pair of swans are a rehabilitated pair that were given to us to rehome. We've tried to train them to ring the bell as usual but they seem very shy.
'Instead there is a pair of Muscovy ducks which are ringing the bell all the time and getting all the food.' He added: 'The swans seem shy - they hang back and let the Muscovy ducks do the ringing. I think some of the tourists expect the swans to ring the bell but the ducks have learned to do it.
'I think the original idea was to feed them to stop them flying away. But the swans are slowly improving - hopefully they'll get there in the end.' The centuries-old custom is believed to have been started by the daughter of a palace caretaker and has continued uninterrupted since.