Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Day 81 - Synchronus Shovelers

Northern Shoveler (Anas Clypeata
Shovelers in a courtship display
Hi everyone,

Day 81 and I've another lovely water bird for you today. I was lucky enough recently to see these birds at Blacktoft sands, and not only did I see them I saw them engaged in their courtship displays, more on this below.

So today is the turn of the Shoveler. Here's a few facts I found:

Shovelers bobbing their heads

  • As you can see in the pictures they have a big shovel shaped (spatulate) beak
  • There are between 300-1000 breeding pairs in the UK but they are joined in the winter by others from Europe, up to 18,000.
  • The RSPB list them as amber status as the UK has over 20% of the North Eastern European population.
  • They are around 48cm long and have a 77cm wingspan. They weigh about 630g
  • In the second two pictures you can see some of their courtship display. I watched them dabbling (feeding) in pairs going round and round in circles. You can see this in the video below.
  • They also did a fabulous display in pairs bobbing their heads up and down. It was lovely to watch.
  • They live on shallow lakes or marsh, reedbeds and sometimes wet meadows. 
  • They use their beaks, which have a sort of comb structure on the edges, to filter food out of the water and they eat seeds, bits of vegetation, small insects and molluscs.
  • The feeding action of sifting the water is called dabbling. 
  • They usually live for 3 years but the oldest Shoveler was recorded as being 22 years and 7 months old.
  • I tried to find a collective noun for Shovelers but only came up with some for ducks in general. They are described as a raft, a team or a flush. My favourite one I found though is a paddling - a paddling of dabbling Shovelers.
If you'd like to find out a bit more about these lovely ducks try these sites:


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