Goosander

Mergus merganser

Goosander (Mergus merganser)

This very large duck which has a long serrated bill for catching fish. The male has a green-black head with a hooked red bill, and a salmon pink to white body. The female has a dark brown head, a sharply defined white throat and dark collar, a smooth downward-pointing crest, and blue-grey plumage. The juvenile has a striped face and brown-greyish body.

It feeds by diving from the surface of the water to take fish. It nests in a hole in a tree near water, and lays 8-11 eggs in 1 brood from April to May. It can live for up to 8 years.

Seen all year round, and it is found in small groups in winter, whilst in summer breeding pairs prefer upland reservoirs and fast-flowing streams with stony shores. A very shy bird, and easily scared off even from a long distance.

Photograph of Goosander (Mergus merganser), taken November 2013, nature reserve Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2013. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.

Is it a Turkey? No, It’s A Duck

Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata)

Wild Muscovies are black and white, but with breeding there are different colour varieties, from iridescent green, brown, blues and lavender plumage. They have large, strong clawed feet which they use for roosting in trees, and they are webbed for swimming. Their faces are bare and bright red, or red and black, and the drakes have pronounced carnacules at the base of their bills and a low erectile crest of feathers.

They feed on small invertebrates and plant material. Nests are usually made in the hollow of a tree where they lay between 8 to 21 eggs in a clutch. They breed three times a year. They can live for up to 8 years.

Muscovies do not swim as much as other ducks due to the fact that their oil glands are not as well-developed as other species.

Seen all year round, they are found in ponds, rivers and streams. Native to Mexico, Central and South America, and was introduced to Europe and the UK some centuries ago as domesticated farm produce, from which they are commonly called ‘Barbary Ducks’. Although they are a tropical species they do fairly well in colder climes.

Photographs taken  August 2008, park, Staffordshire, and April 2015, Buxton, Derbyshire.

Not Such An Ugly Duckling

This little duckling and its mom was quite a sight to see as they came bobbing down the canal waters.

They had been ducking and diving (please excuse the pun) below the water looking for aquatic vegetation to feed on. It is called a Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos).

Visit Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) to learn more about this wonderful  waterfowl.