Bird's Eye View of Bute

Mallard Ducks

(1) Mallard Ducks
(1) Mallard Ducks
(2)
(2)
(3)
(3)
(4)
(4)
(5)
(5)
(6)
(6)
(7)
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(8)
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(9)
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(10)
(10)
(11)
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(13)
(13)
(14) Love Race
(14) Love Race
(15) Getting Heated
(15) Getting Heated
(16) Displaying
(16) Displaying
(17) Not Interested
(17) Not Interested
(18) Springtime
(18) Springtime
(19) Springtime
(19) Springtime

 


A BIRDS EYE VIEW OF BUTE.

The bird in todays story hardly needs any introduction as it is familiar to all of us. This is the basic duck, "The Mallard".

 

Anywhere that there is water, there is sure to be at least one pair. From the big lochs which can be home to dozens of pairs, to the lower end of the lade where a pair or two can be seen feeding on a daily basis.
What they find to eat in the lade is beyond me, but as they are opportunistic feeders they will survive in any situationAs I walk over Bute I come across many pairs in burns, streams and even in large puddles. They are very noticeable in times that we get very heavy rainfall and the fields are flooded, feeding on aquatic seeds, plants and invertebrates .

This is such a common thing nowadays that ducks are getting well fed, but I dont think it will do the fields much good being flooded so often. Heavy rainfall will not affect the mallard at nesting time as they dont build on the lochs, they can nest a great distance away from water, up a tree, on a building, and when the eggs are hatched, then begins the perilous journey to water. They can be seen often on T.V. walking with their brood," which can be up to thirteen" along the road heading for their new home. They have their legs situated midway along their body making walking easy, and indeed spend a lot of time on land. This is because they are surface feeders and have no need to dive, only upending to get more food with their webbed feet paddling like mad to keep their head submerged.

.Diving ducks have a big problem with high water levels however as their legs are situated at the rear end so that they are streamlined for swimming under water. When they breed they build a nest on the shore right next to the water as they find it very difficult to walk. Some build on the lochs amongst the reeds. If nest are built during high water levels, and the level then drops, then diving ducks cannot reach them and have to abandon them.. If this happens late on in the nesting season then they may not havetime to start again.The mallard however is very adaptable and are survivors, making the most of any situation.The call of the Mallard is the most familiar "QUACK" that we know so well. It is the female that makes this call, with the drake giving a one-syllable, quieter nasal vepp.

Norrie Mulholland

First published in the Buteman in 22-02-2002

Image (1) is a photo of the original postcard size image used in the Buteman, so it is not the best of the bunch.

 


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