A day out with ducks (Stephen Longster, Reserve Officer)

This week I was out counting ducks, or more specifically, pairs of ducks with Andy from Elmwood College.  The purpose of these counts is to assess the breeding pairs of ducks and then later in the year to count broods.  This allows us to calculate breeding success and productivity.

These counts start early as we are counting from the boat and the loch is generally much calmer in the early morning.  It’s very difficult to use binoculars or a telescope if you’re being bucketed about in a 20mph wind!

A misty morning on the loch

Loch Leven in the early hours

I picked a good morning- a little mist which soon burned off.  As we left the harbour, the first duck was a tufted duck which loomed out of the mist.

Tufted Duck (female)

Tufted Duck (female)

The male wasn’t far away

The male is the black and white one

The male is the black and white one

At this time of year the females are nearly always paired up, but there are lots of males who didn’t get lucky.  They hang around in gangs of disappointment.

Lovely day

Later on in the morning, the mist burned off and it proved to be an ideal day to count ducks.

Mr and Mrs Gadwall

Mr and Mrs Gadwall

Shoveler patrolling in front of nest site

Shoveler patrolling in front of nest site

Shelducks - male in front with a thicker chestnut band, and a larger, redder bill plate

Shelducks – male in front with a thicker chestnut band, and a larger, redder bill plate

Another gratuitous picture of a pair of tufties!

Another gratuitous picture of a pair of tufties!

I will release the results of the pair counts when Lesley has deciphered my scrawl and added up the numbers for the survey.

Many thanks to Andrew Hally from Elmwood College, who took most of the duck pictures and took part in the pair count.

About Craig.Nisbet

Reserve Officer Loch Leven National Nature Reserve Scottish Natural Heritage
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