The Runnymede on Thames is located in a one-of-a-kind natural environment in between the River Thames and the historic meadows of Runnymede. It’s a habitat where many fascinating species call ‘home’ and we particularly enjoy the antics of the local Egyptian geese and mallards.
In fact, a pair of Egyptian geese love our hotel so much, they decided to permanently move into our grounds! We named the plucky pair Cleo and Patra. While they spend their days hiding away in the foliage around The Runnymede on Thames, they always make an appearance every morning and afternoon for their food. And if we’re running a bit late, they’ll march up to our front entrance and tap on the window. They certainly demand the most impeccable service!
Although they are called Egyptian geese, these species are actually part of the duck family, native to the Sahara and the Nile Valley. Considered sacred by the Ancient Egyptians, Egyptian geese can be seen depicted in numerous artworks from Ancient Egypt. Egyptian geese are pale brown and grey in colour, known for the distinctive dark brown patches around their eyes. The species also has a noticeable pale apricot-coloured breast and a white wing patch.
Egyptian geese were first introduced to England in the 17th century and had become particularly popular on private estates in Norfolk by the 19th century. Some escaped into the wild, breeding and establishing colonies elsewhere including Berkshire and London – and in particular along the River Thames. The RSPB estimates there are around 1,100 breeding pairs in the UK.
Mallards enjoy the same habitat as Egyptian geese, hence why there are plenty to be seen in our locality too. Known as dabbling ducks – who feed from the surface of the water rather than diving down – male mallards have glossy green heads and grey wings, while female mallards are brown and speckled in appearance. These are a particularly sociable species of duck, preferring to gather together in small flocks. A much more common duck compared to Egyptian geese, the RSPB estimates there are up to 146,000 breeding pairs in the UK.
Both Egyptian geese and mallards love to eat seed, so we have bags of bird seed available for any of our guests who would like to feed them. Just ask at reception and then go for a wander outside, or hire one of our boats and feed the birds as you explore the River Thames. To celebrate our affinity with ducks, all our pint-sized guests receive duck related gifts when they check into the hotel too.
So, come to The Runnymede on Thames and keep an eye out for the local ducks – it’s a quacking way to spend time together as a family!