Wednesday, 17 February 2010

More Attenborough

Following on from yesterday's post, here are some more pictures of our walk around the Attenborough Nature Reserve.
One of the more numerous birds to be found bobbing around in the water, are the Tufted Ducks (Aythya fuligula). Small and neat, these are common ducks in Britain and are frequently to found nipping in and out among the Mallards.
The Tufted Duck is a 'diving duck' and gets it's food by swimming under water after small molluscs, aquatic insects and plant material.
On our route back to the car, we stopped to look at some Goosanders (Mergus merganser). Large and very streamlined, these are also diving birds. Goosanders belong to a group of waterfowl known as Sawbills due to their bills having a serrated edge. The saw-tooth edge to their bills enable these birds to catch fish with deadly accuracy. Unfortunately, these birds were not too keen to be photographed and stayed at a distance.
The male bird is unmistakable with it's white body plumage and a very dark greenish head - which looks black at this distance. The Female is a much more drab grey with a reddish coloured head.
While we were looking at another group of Goosanders, we were surprised to see an animal which was new to us both. Suddenly, about 6ft away from us, a brown, furry mammal swam by. An American Mink (Mustela vison). Sadly, by the time we had seen it, it was too late to take a picture. It climbed out of the water and disappeared into the brushwood on the bank. It's presence was, even then, given away by the squabbling noises it was making with another mink in the bank.
Lastly, we returned to the visitors centre - packed with children as it is a school holiday, so you can imagine we didn't stay very long in there!
Outside the visitors centre, there was another exotic bird dabbling around in the muddy waterside. A Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea). Mostly vagrants or escapees from bird collections in this country, they originate in Asia. Such a pretty bird, somewhere between a Mallard and a goose in size, this one was taking a great deal of interest in me as I took it's picture, determined to show off it's 'best side'.
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