Thursday, 11 February 2016

Post 387 - Patiently Perusing Puddling Pochards

Pochard (Aythya ferina) at Bolton-on-Swale
Hey everyone, today's 387 post and recently, as part of my reserves challenge, I went to Bolton-On-Swale Lake nature reserve, I haven't done a post on this yet, but one will be coming in the next couple of days. But when I was there, I saw some amazing birds with my new telescope, that's another post too! As we were going into the reserve a man coming out told us that there were some Scaup hanging around near the back of the lake. But it's not the Scaup I'm focusing on in this post, there were also some Pochards hanging around too. So that's this post. I've found a snag with my telescope, I can see birds much better with it than I can with my camera, so my photos aren't so good today. Planning to get a kit though soon so I can do some digi-scoping which should improve things!

So, after a huge wait since the last bird post, here are the facts:
They were quite far off with a few Coots for company
  • In the Winter and the Spring, the Males are very distinctive, I could easily identify them when I saw them. 
  • They have a bright, Red-Brown head, a black front and tail, and a pale grey body over the rest of them. 
  • In eclipse the Males look much more like females do, mainly brown and grey and are much better camouflaged against predators. Though this is mainly only July to August time before males get their bright plumage back.
  • This bird is actually a Red Status, so it does kind of count towards my Red Status challenge which I've kind of got going in the back of my mind, though I don't think really I'll manage all Yorkshire Reserves and all Red Status birds this year!
Camera zoom wasn't up to it!
  • There are around 48,000 wintering birds in the UK, not much compared to some species. In the summer there are only around 350 to 630 breeding pairs in the UK. 
  • A decline in breeding and wintering populations is why they are a Red Status. Numbers have been declining over the last 30 years, between 30-50% in Europe

  • One reason they may not be breeding well in the UK is that they seem to breed early, compared to Tufted Ducks anyway. Pochard broods appear from May to July and if the weather isn't good they can have low success rates. Tufted Ducks brood are later and often miss bad weather so they are more successful.

  • They are about 46cm long and they have a 77cm wingspan. 

  • They only weigh around 930g (both Male and Female birds). 
Pochard - thanks @birdbrainuk!
  • On average they live for 3 years, but the oldest ever was 22 years and 10 days. 
  • Habitats they like include lakes, slow rivers, reservoirs and estuaries. 
  • To eat the dive for aquatic plants, seeds, insects. snails and small fish.
  • They are found in the UK all year round but as the numbers above tell you they are much more common in Winter. They come here from Russia and Europe to escape the cold and I am seeing quite a few at the moment.
  • A strange thing I found on the internet about Pochards is that apparently in Finnish mythology the world was formed out of a Pochard's egg. I wonder what Stephen Hawking would make of that! 
And another from David.

Here are some links to some more information:

RSPB - Pochards

BTO Birdfacts - Pochards

Birdlife - Pochards

Hope you enjoyed,


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