Monday, 27 July 2015

Wild Duck Trumps Ruddy Interlopers

A lovely juvenile / female garganey was at Freman's Pools this morning. It was in the company of a couple of teal on the upper pools. It's always a pleasure to come across these attractive and scarce summer migrants on the local patch.
There wasn't much else going on at the pools, just a few moulting mallard and the usual coot, moorhen and little grebe. A little egret dropped in for a spot of fishing but didn't linger.
The ruddy duck trio were again at the Wildfowlers' Pools along with a green sandpiper, a couple of snipe and a juvenile little ringed plover.
There wasn't much going on at the Flood, and a check on the estuary revealed little beyond the expected gulls, greylags, cormorants, lapwings, herons and little egrets, etc.

Ruddy Shelduck

A few people have asked about the provenance of the visiting shelducks, but the real answer is that (as with most 'rare' wildfowl) we really don't know for sure.
This species is a regular visitor to Britain, especially in the summer months. The perceived wisdom is that these birds originate from feral populations in Europe, though in some years it is possible that genuinely wild birds may account for an influx.
Clearly, one of the Aldcliffe birds is of captive origin due the presence of a red plastic ring on its leg. That doesn't necessarily mean of course that the others are from the same source. Escaped wildfowl will often hook up with wild birds of the same, or similar, species.
In theory a fence-hopper may fly around on its own for ages before finding others of its kind. They may come upon a large feral population in Holland while on their travels, or spot a couple of free-range wanderers as they pass overhead in Nimes, Namysłów or Nantwich. Who knows?
Given that ruddy shelduck isn't even on the current 'official' British list, it's all a bit academic really! Nonetheless, they're an attractive bird and the sight of these ruddy shelducks certainly brightens even the dullest Aldcliffe morning.


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