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Shoveler Ducks

This afternoon Zoe pointed out a strange grouping of ducks right in the centre of the largest of the Reading University lakes.  There were about twenty ducks all swimming around in a circle no greater than about 2 metres in diameter.  They seemed to be a mixture of males and females, the females being a drab light brown colour, but the males having black heads, a large white patch covering their breasts and shoulders, a large reddish-brown patch on their sides, and a smaller white patch under a black tail. 

As they were a long way out and did not seem to be interested at all in the bread that we were throwing, so we could not get a close look at them.  However, I am fairly confident that they were shoveler ducks (Anas clypeata).  We were not able to clearly make out their characteristic 'shovel' bills, but when we go back tomorrow morning I will be taking my binoculars with me. 

The densely-packed flock was probably feeding (BWP-CE states "Most likely to congregate densely when feeding" and also notes that they tend to gather in flocks of 20-30).  They feed on small animals and plant debris that they suck up with their 'shovel' bills.  The flock were probably swimming in a circle in order to create a whirlpool to stir up food from the bottom.

Reader Comments (1)

I observe ducks swimming in circles on a lake in Central FL. Mallards mix with other ducks.
They continue for half hour or more. Must be
feeding on the vortex. Quack Quack Quack
January 13 | Unregistered CommenterDave

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