Out for a Duck


Having drawn a blank around the village in the last few days looking for new sightings for the year I was tempted into a trip to Buckenham Marshes a wild area of grazing marsh which is alive throughout the year with fabulous wild life.Over the last few days  a green winged teal a North American dabbling duck had been present as well as some Bewicks swans on route to their Siberian summer breeding lands.So an opportunity to have a look for these and other winter wildfowl was taken. The first wildfowl on show were wigeon which grazed on the grass giving their whistling calls. Whilst numbers are clearly lower than at peak times several thousand were still present in large flocks carpeting the grass and open waters.

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Grazing Wigeon

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Ever alert drake Wigeon.

Among the wigeon were some much larger greylag geese and some slightly larger and more colourful shelduck. The real attention grabbers were the lapwings which were performing their impossible tumbling breeding display flights and they were acoustically back dropped by the shrill calls of redshank. Every so often the wigeon would call on mass with a perceptible whistling panic and whilst they did take off in vast flocks I could not see what had spooked them. When they flew in numbers other birds were drawn up with them including swirling starling flocks and twisting groups of dunlin. Other steadier wildfowl left on the ground included shoveler and teal.

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Drake shoveler. My what a big nose you’ve got. All the better for sifting small invertebrates out of the muddy water.

I scanned the many gates and fence posts looking for a raptor which might have upset the ducks and waders but the only likely candidate was a buzzard who didn’t appear to be much concern to the birds around him. There was still the elusive green winged teal to find so I set about scanning the ponds and tufts of grass which produced some delicate avocets and a little egret and eventually numerous teal but none bore the vertical cream band of the green-winged variety.

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Common, delicately patterned drake teal

My search of the marshes complete I headed home and close to the village I noticed the following at work on the fields west of the village.

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I guess all of the village gulls were in the several hundred following the tractor as the flock of included all the usual suspects common gull, Black-headed gull and some herring gull. Despite a scan nothing more rare was apparent and on returning to the village there were no gulls to be seen.So if your gulls are all missing they will be in a field not far away following a tractor. As this post has been a little male bird heavy I will leave you with one of my favourite ladies of the day.

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Female Shoveller

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