Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Front-Heavy Duck.

Another species that I finally managed to get a little closer to during a recent walk in the park was the (Northern) Shoveler (Anas clypeata).
At a distance the male  is easily recognisable by its broad white chest bordered by the chestnut coloured flanks and the distinctive front-heavy appearance that dominates this bird's silhouette both on the water and in flight.
Closer views show the green iridescent head with its pin-prick sized yellow eye and occasionally a glimpse of the pale blue upper forewing (see below).
The spatula shaped bill is an adaptation for the Shoveler's main feeding method of sieving or filtering. As if carrying a heavy weight the bill is rarely lifted far above the surface of the water except while defending territory in the breeding season when the male pumps his head up and down with the bill pointing slightly upwards.
This species prefers shallow water with plenty of edible particles in suspension so is often seen on freshwater marshes and lakes.
 
At first there was one ... and then there were six ... all going round and round in circles. I have subsequently read an article by a well known birding journalist who actually witnessed two hundred Shoveler feeding one behind the other while forming one complete circle .... now wouldn't that be a sight to see?

Each bird benefits from the mud stirred up by the feet of the one in front and with it more food particles including crustaceans, snails, insect larvae, seeds and plant material. Despite eating such very small items, the Shoveller can consume up to 10% of its body weight in one day. 
Doing just what his name implies ..... FAB.

Please check out more birds from around the world at World Bird Wednesday.

18 comments:

  1. The Shoveler, that is a beautiful bird, thank you Frank.

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  2. Great captures of a bird i love to watch....

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  3. Good photos and accompanying essay. Boom & Gary of The Vermilon River, Canada.

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  4. Great series of photos...and a beautiful duck.

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  5. Bob, Andrew and Gary.

    Cheers guys .. glad you enjoyed this one.

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  6. Wonderful shots. These are my favorite ducks!

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  7. Great captures Frank.
    They're unmistakeable with that huge bill, but lovely birds. Always good to see them.
    Love that third shot.

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  8. They really are a pretty bird. Very nice shots!

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  9. Lovely images Frank and they really show off his big beak.

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  10. I love Shoveleres - but I might never get accustomed to their "strange" beak.

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  11. I've never seen these before but I love their colors! Very interesting bill and commentary.

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  12. Awesome shots of these guys... But I must ask... where are the ladies??

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  13. Great series! I also took some time to check out your Dragonfly photos on your side bar, really cool! Thanks for a very informative adventure!

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  14. Great images of an equally great looking bird Frank!!!

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  15. Lovely pics of the shoveller Frank, Linda

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  16. Thanks, Frank. I ddn't know any of that before. We don't see too many Shovelers here. Great pictures, really shows why they are called that way.

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  17. Gorgeous birds! The beak is something else!

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  18. Carol. Thanks.

    Cheers Ryan. I also enjoy watching this species.

    Keith. Thanks, it was great to get some closer shots at long last .. they usually disappear whenever I'm around!

    Thanks Mona and Roy.

    dreamfalcon. It may look strange but it does what it was designed for.

    EmptyNester. Delighted to share something unusual for you.

    Jen. I'm really not sure ... probably hiding from the males!!

    Springman. Glad you enjoyed the sideshow .. must update it with some recent shots.

    Mary HC. Thanks. Definitely a showy duck.

    Linda. Thanks very much.

    Hilke. Delighted to share some of their mysteries.

    Sally in WA. Welcome and thanks.

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