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Shoveler Duck

At first glance, you would be forgiven, for thinking that the bird that you see here is a Mallard, with its green head, but your are in fact looking at a not-too-common duck that frequents our lochs, A 'Shoveler'.

These  ducks arrive on some of our lochs in the springtime, preferring shallow water, or mud, to feed on, so the Kirk Dam, and the Greenan Loch fits this bill perfectly, (pardon the pun).
They get their name from the size and shape of their bill which much larger and broader than other species. in fact there are no other ducks with bills as big as the Shovelers.
They swim along taking in water in broad sweeps with  their large bills, which they expel through the sides which have special serrations  that catch it's food, which is seeds and invertebrates. Going by the size of these ducks, Length 44-52cm, Wing-span, 70-85cm, weight, 400-850g, they will need a loch or reservoir with a good source of food for them to survive, this is the reason the you will not see them at rest very often as they have to fed constantly.

An unusual duck with the distinctive feature in both sexes being the broad flattened bill. The male as I have said has got a green head with a sheen that can be seen in good light.  Bright orange belly, providing  a striking contrast with otherwise white breast and flanks. Dark backside and tail on the male, with the outer tail feathers being white, and black bill. Female has mottled brown plumage, bill black with the  lower edges orange. Both sexes have a pale blue inner wing, which can be seen as the fly.
The most of them that I have seen on our lochs, are four male and one female on the Kirk Dam on one year only, with other years with only one pair, and once or twice, only one male that soon disappeared in search of another loch that held a female.
A very handsome bird that is a delight to see, and I hope that if you are keen on birds, you see one or more of them  as they stay or pass through.

First published in the Buteman

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