Friday, 27 January 2012

“The perils of duck hunting are great- especially for the duck”

After my self-imposed blog abstinence, when other things took priority I though that I'd pay a brief visit to blog-world today. I had to got to Sandwich on other matters and took the opportunity to spend some time in the beautiful sunshine this afternoon. Last night I gave a talk at Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory about my birding trip Venezuela last year. Fortunately I was able to use some of my son, Pete's excellent photographs that he'd taken while leading the group, which added to the less spectacular selection of my shots, I hope made a reasonable evening. Many of the pictures showed birds that we think of as colourful, which they are, but we really shouldn't forget some of the fantastic birds under our own noses.
I popped along to North Downs Farm and managed to peer over the fence at the small reservoir to get a reasonable, though distant view of a female Goosander sitting on the bank at the end. Too far for a picture though.

I realise that Teals have featured rather frequently of late, but sitting in the Restharrow Scrape Hide, watching their antics is thoroughly therapeutic. Now that they are getting frisky they are also quite amusing.

It's always good tho scratch if you've got an itch!

I was plweased to see a Pied Wagtail pop in, it was the only passerine I saw in the hour 30 minutes I sat there!

This is the typical pose of a drake Teal trying to show off his finery. He puts his head back an lifts his bill and then puffs out his chest and makes a few rather strange grunts.

At long last I've caught up with some Shovelers on the scrape. I know that they've been around a while, but in the main they've been strangely absent, leaving the area to the larger than usual number of Teal. These two still don't look to be fully moulted to their best outfits, but if the weather remains fine I'm sure it wont be long before we see then beginning to get onto their pairing rituals.

I did see five Mallard flying round the Village yesterday. I assume it was a Duke with five potential suitors on her tail.


The Revd B R Fumblefinch said...

Dear Mr Morris,

The Broadbill, or shoveler as some now name them, as shown in your photographic image may well not yet be expected to be in their finery. Fowle of the anas tribe usally go through what is termed by young Darwin, Wallace and co as a 'supplemental plumage'. This follows on from the the brief ecliptic plumage, is prior to the breeding plumage, and is not replaced in any hurried full moult, but over some considerable time; it is quite usual for these broadbill to have their supplemental markings on head and neck into early spring, and there is evidence that the more strongly marked birds are the fully mature- also the variety in the strength is thought by some to signal healthy and vitality to the gentler sex. Younger, weaker broadbill will tend to be those already be summery in appearance, and often lacking the attendance of a maid. There are some fine illustrations of this in more ancient tomes such as Fowle of the Western Palearctic. Peace be with you.

Tony Morris said...

Dear Rev B R Fumblefinch,
many thanks for your interest and erudite explanation of the phenomena that I had witnessed. I have explored more of your interesting notes via my electric box and am impressed with the depth and width of your interests, I shall be following your writings from now on. I hope you will be able to make frequent entries when the work with your parishioners allows you enough time.
you humble servant,