Your Bird­ing Month

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents -

Birds to look for this month in­clude Shag, Mealy Red­poll and Twite

Ducks are a hand­some group of birds. And the Wigeon is hand­some even by duck stan­dards, or per­haps that should be drake stan­dards. For though the red­dish fe­males (as in the ducks) are pret­tily shaped (think steep fore­head and cute lit­tle bill), it is the drakes which hog all the lovely colours. The first thing to grab you is the brick red head with a buffy-yel­low fore­head onto the crown. This is played off against the pink breast and pale grey body and black rear end. And when the wings open, there is that huge flash of white. This is a hand­some drake by any stan­dards. They even make a nice sound, a slurred, whis­tled ‘weeoo’, quite un­like the stereo­typ­i­cal duck ‘quack’. And when a large flock start to whis­tle, it is re­ally the sound of win­ter bird­watch­ing in many ar­eas. For these are com­mon ducks in win­ter, with 400,000 in­di­vid­u­als spend­ing the colder months in the UK. A lot are near the coast, but there are also many in suit­able habi­tats in­land. Wigeon are equally at home on wa­ter as graz­ing on short grass etc, more so than other duck species. But they are of­ten very shy and flighty ducks, ris­ing in a great whistling flock, flash­ing those white wing patches at the slight­est ap­proach.

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