Aqualate Mere - 7 Dec 16

At Aqualate Mere on a splendid mild winter’s afternoon ...

These Mute Swan cygnets are presumably from the same brood and sticking together.

More than 50 Shoveler were in the bay by the hide and giving great views: these are all drakes, the back right bird just starting to acquire drake plumage – note the warm tones along the flanks and the hint of a pale vertical strip behind the bill.

4 drake Shoveler in varying plumage.

A fine drake Shoveler: I have never been aware of the green around the tail before, just visible here.

... but more visible here

The equivalent duck.

This duck literally ploughing through the water

The right-hand bird shows a dark bill like an adult drake but the plumage looks like that of a duck. So? I guess it is a first winter drake but none of my bird books show this combination.

This is how you often see groups of Shoveler: in a tight group spinning around to stir up sediment and then filter it with the tips of their bills mainly underwater.

All gets a bit hectic in the middle of the scrum.

Here is a drake in flight: here we can see the tail appears to have 14 feathers and the orange feet catching the sun.
For comparison behind the Shoveler the back bird is a duck Teal.

And a pair of Teal: the drake at the back is still to acquire full breeding plumage but his escort does not seem to care.

Here is a duck Goldeneye showing off its waterproof plumage.

And a rather distant drake Goldeneye

The extensive white at the tips of the outer primaries of this Herring Gull identifies it as of ssp. argentatus. This ssp. from Scandinavia tends to be larger and darker than ‘our’ ssp. argenteus (a Lesser Black-backed Gull in front and a Black-headed Gull behind).

(Ed Wilson)