Duck tales

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Shetland -

View­ing win­ter flocks of ‘cal­loo’ is a spe­cial Shet­land ex­pe­ri­ence.

The Shet­land name for the long-tailed duck, cal­loo, is ono­matopoeic and its Latin name, Clan­gula hye­malis, means ‘re­sound’ and ‘win­try’. An es­ti­mated 11,000 long-tailed ducks over­win­ter in the UK. Most ar­rive in Shet­land in Oc­to­ber and leave in April for their sum­mer breed­ing grounds in north­ern Scan­di­navia and Rus­sia.

They feed on aquatic in­ver­te­brates, mostly crus­taceans and mol­luscs, and in Shet­land can of­ten be seen with great north­ern divers, feed­ing in shel­tered bays with sandy beds.

Dense win­ter con­gre­ga­tions of these sea ducks can make them vul­ner­a­ble to in­shore oil spills, and many were killed in Shet­land fol­low­ing the 1978 Esso Ber­ni­cia and 1993 Braer oil spills.

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