THE ringleader behind a mysterious seafront gathering of rubber ducks has said his feathered friends will return.

Some 800 hundred ducks surprised early-morning walkers as they stumbled across the team sunning themselves on Bognor promenade on Wednesday. Locals were delighted yet confused by the display – unsure if they had gone quackers when the origin of the congregation remained a mystery.

But The Argus has tracked down the bird in charge, who insists on being known only as Captain Duck.

He said he and his brace, like many birds, often return to their favourite meeting places and locals should expect another gathering soon.

He told people to keep track of their movements on his ‘Captain Duck’ Facebook page.

The birds were cleaned up by council workers soon after they appeared and are being stored at a Littlehampton depot.

Corina Smith, owner of The Deli in Aldwick, Aldwick Road, hosted a small group of the visitors at her cafe.

She said: “It was lovely for them to visit the deli and we really enjoyed the display on the beach.

“It was a shame some of them left so soon. But we all hope they will return. I offered them bread and water as they went on their way.”

Yesterday The Argus reported how police were called to investigate the incident – but said no large numbers of rubber ducks had been stolen.

Kirsten Fitzpatrick, events manager at Bognor Regis Town Council, said: “The ducks were placed strategically along the promenade and the breakers.

“They have been cleared up and we are trying to trace the owners. It must have taken a while to place all these ducks so someone must have seen something.”

John Taylor, of Arundel Lions Club, said the fundraising group had sold up to 800 rubber ducks two months ago on eBay which they had originally bought for the Arun Bath Tub Race, but found they were too big.

He said: “It’s too much of a coincidence that they aren’t the same ducks.”