Saturday, 8 February 2014

Duck anyone

Its been far too long since my last post but things overtake you at certain times of year and this is one. I have been very busy delivering adult education photography courses, working towards a teaching qualification and well as giving a number of illustrated talks , several of which I had to make up from scratch.
                                                                Long Tailed Duck
The weather has not been kind to anyone especially those in the south of England and also in Shetland where gales and rain seem never ending. Its difficult to get out and get any photos in those conditions so its always a good time to look back. At this time of year I always think about wildfowl, they are in breeding plumage and look immaculate.

Diving duck can be seen on a number of lochs in Shetland, Spiggie, Brow Hillwell Clickhimin etc. Over the years in Spring we have seen an increase in Tufted duck numbers with 44 on Spiggie in one flock in mid June, these will be non breeding birds. These are always nice to see and some people get them mixed up with Scaup especially the females, which look similar except for the more white around the base of the bill and no tuft, with a more rounded head. No doubting the males with a grey back rather than a black colour on the Tufted. A small number of birds breed especially in the South mainland

Goldeneye are always great to see and at this time of year have started to display, the males throwing their heads back and calling with plenty of fighting between the males. These are tree nesting birds so it would be very doubtful they would breed in Shetland, with no nesting sites. Unst is the most favored site during the year with peak numbers during October - January

Pochard numbers are always variable, a chunky duck they always rest in small flocks, the males with the brown heads and silver backs look stunning even at a distance.Birds can usually be found in May and June at Loch of Hillwell but only in small numbers

Long tailed ducks are normally found on the sea but a number do take to fresh water with Spiggie a favorite place
 During 2012 up to 700 birds were present at Belmont in Unst during early spring. Odd birds can be found usually up to Mid June.Numbers in June are certainly less now than back in the 1980-1990's

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