Ducking Out

‘Tis the season of the duck. I always think February is when all our waterfowl looks at its best, with the males in their spring finery. And we’ve been seeing them well this week- they’ve been frozen out of the reedbeds into the open water in the middle of the lochs. We’ve had the highest count of mallard, wigeon and teal on Loch Davan this week and I struggle to decide which is the handsomest duck. Wigeon possibly edge it, but just because they have a wonderful whistling call – not all ducks quack, in fact most don’t. Teal “proop”, wigeon whistle and goldeneye grunt…only the mallards quack!

 A pair of wigeon; she's preening, making herself look attractive....but he knows he's gorgeous already!

A pair of wigeon

Teal swimming

Male teal

Mallard ducks

Mallard drakes

Teal are our smallest duck and you can see how much smaller they are than the mallards when they are standing up on the edge of the ice.

The ducks often hang about on the edge of the ice

The ducks often hang about on the edge of the ice

We’re up to 15 whooper swans on Loch Davan. We think they are the same group as last week, plus two more. There are a reassuring number of juvenile swans with them- in some years, when they’ve had a poor breeding season, you hardly see any youngsters over the winter.

Whooper families

Whooper families

Two adult and one young whooper

Two adults and one young whooper swan

The mute swans are getting increasingly uptight about other swans on “their” patch of water. The problem is that the ice has made “their” patch of water much smaller and all the other swans think it’s “their” patch too. “Get orf my land! Whaddya mean, your land? This is our patch!” And cue much bickering and posturing by the swans.

Mute swan in threat pose

Mute swan in threat pose

Threatening mute

Threatening mute swan

We had a brief visit by around 500 pink-footed geese on Thursday. This is relatively unusual- most of our geese are greylags. But the pinkies must have fancied a brief rest and we had a great time watching them “whiffling” onto the loch.

Pink-footed geese flighting in to Loch Davan

Pink-footed geese flighting in to Loch Davan

It’s been pretty cold this week- no signs of adders even on the warmer days. And the birds have been extra hungry in the cold. The discovery of a few extremely ancient dog biscuits at the back of a cupboard was a real bonus for them…even if they took a while to work out if they were edible. This coal tit couldn’t decide whether old biscuit was going to form part of his diet…but then got tucked in when hunger took over. (BTW, dried biscuits aren’t great for birds but are ok if soaked- which the snow did).

Not sure what this is....

Not sure what this is….

...but I'll give it a go!

…but I’ll give it a go!

The squirrels have been hungry too. We’ve found lots of bits of pine cone left on top of the snow.

A squirrel has been having a feed

A squirrel has been having a feed

Another of the unusual-coloured rabbits has survived the winter. We saw a big, fat healthy-looking blonde bunny in the Old Kinord fields this week. He is incredibly well camouflaged amongst the dead grass- perhaps one of the reasons he has survived so long.

Hello Blondie! One of the blonde bunnies has made it through the winter too.

Hello Blondie! One of the blonde bunnies has made it through the winter too.

We’ll leave you this week with a couple of pictures of some of our winter visitors to the reserve- you don’t see these guys in the summer!

Morning visitors at Burn o Vat

Morning visitors at Burn o Vat

Mini snow family on picnic table

Mini snow family on picnic table

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