Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Is it a 'pochtie' or a 'tuftard'?

An unusual looking hybrid duck (pictured below) arrived on the scene last year.  At first I thought it was a tufted duck but on closer inspection I realised that it had a rust coloured crest rather than a black tuft. It was swimming around with the tufted ducks and some pochards and I suddenly saw that it's head resembled that of a male pochard.  I made some enquiries and learnt that it was a cross between a pochard and a tufted duck.  What's strange is that it's the colour of a male tufted duck, apart from the tuft, but its 'crest' is more similar to that of a male than a female pochard, though not quite as bright.

An unusual hybrid duck

Our female mallard is sitting on her eggs at the moment but we think one of the eggs may have been broken because we could see her eating something from inside the box and then heading down the plank for a long drink.

Last night we saw the female mandarin duck go inside the nest while her partner stood on the plank but I don't think she would have pecked at one of the eggs.  Perhaps the crow has been brave enough to put its head past the mop 'curtain' and try to steal an egg?

I was surprised to see a coot disappear into the other nest box for a while this morning.  In the past they have used the nests as creches once the young coots have left their nest of twigs but coots are inveterate builders and it would be impossible for them to carry large twigs and sticks into the box entrance.  One tried to do so last year and had to abandon it in the end.

I noticed a robin in the bog garden this morning with a beak full of nesting material.  I shall have to watch carefully to see where it is building its nest.

We were out in the boat yesterday afternoon and passed Hucks' riverside development opposite our island.  Although no planning permission has been granted for residential houseboats here one has to wonder where the Council think that these large structures are going to be moored if not right here where they are being built.  I doubt that this structure could go under Hampton Court Bridge or Walton Bridge and there is nowhere on this stretch of the river to moor such large houseboats.

A large houseboat under construction

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