Saturday, 9 March 2013

Unidentified Flying Ducks...

The animals came in two by two... A pair of mystery water birds.
Right folks, I’m after some help from anyone who knows anything about water birds! I'm posting these photos of birds that are geese or ducks for my Saturday Snapshot in the hopes that someone can tell me what they are. This area is full of water – rivers, canals, streams, lakes, and pools left from old industries, like mining and quarrying. Consequently, there’s a wealth of wildlife, and I can recognise most of the birds, but currently there are three strange ducks or geese on Borrowpit Lake in Tamworth which I’ve tried, and failed, to photograph over the last couple of months.

Anyway on Wednesday, two of them were stood on the grass, outlined against the water, so I crept up on them, and managed to get one shot before they jumped into the water and swam off. 

Oh bother, I thought, missed again... BUT, just out of view was the third bird, sitting on the bank, happy as Larry, so I crouched down, and kept as quiet as I could, and managed to get a few pictures before he (or she) rushed off to join the others. 
Sitting pretty... This stayed here long enough for me to get a
few pictures and as you can see, she's not black at all.
From a distance they look black, but if you get close enough you can see the most beautiful iridescent dark green feathers on the head, body, and parts of the wings. The rest of the wings are shaded in browns and greys, and there are splodgy white patches on the front of the neck. They’ve got bright yellow bills, with a black mark at the front, and the feet are a pinky colour. 
In this photo the bill and the white throat markings are clearer.
 Size-wise, they’re bigger than mallards, but smaller than Canada Geese, and I’ve not seen them feeding or flying, and they don’t seem to dive. Whatever they are, I assume they can’t be all that common, because they are the only three I’ve seen – there are none on the Coventry Canal, or the Anker, or the Tame. 
A close-up (well, as close as I could get ) of the foot, but it's
more pinkish than it looks here.
I’ve looked online, and in books, but I’m as mystified as ever, because nothing seems to match, so please, if anyone out there can identify them, could you let me know?

And meanwhile, here are two exotic-looking Muscovy Ducks pictured on the muddy towpath alongside the Coventry Canal at Polesworth when I went out for a walk this morning. They are there most of the time, and I think they must be escapees from a local house, or descendants of escapees! At any rate, they add a nice splash of colour to the scene.
I love these Muscovy Ducks - they look so exotic.
Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at http://athomewithbooks.net/ where you can see photos from other participants all over the world.

53 comments:

  1. Sorry, I can't enlighten you about those beautiful ducks! I especially like your first photo - they look quite big, and so slim. I hope somebody can identify them.

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    1. I don't know if they are ducks or geese. They are bigger than mallards, and seem to have longer necks than most ducks. It's really annoying me not knowing what they are!

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  2. GREAT photos. Sorry...I don't know what ducks they are. I am sure someone will know. Good idea to take a photo of their feet...that might present a clue.

    THANKS for sharing.

    Elizabeth
    Silver's Reviews
    My Saturday Snapshot

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    1. I thought looking at the feet might help. I've looked online, and in books, and found pictures of birds where bits of them are similar... my head is spinning!

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  3. I haven't a clue but you got some wonderful pictures! The first picture is so sweet with the pair and I love the iridescent colors. Hopefully someone can identify them.

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    1. Thank you Martha. They seem to be quite shy - the Canada Geese are used to people, but these birds are not.

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  4. They are beautiful - the one with a green head is a mallard.

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    1. It looks a little like a mallard when it's sitting, but the neck is longer, and it's bigger and darker, and the markings are different. Close to they all look like this one, but they seem to be wary of people, and are usually moving on the water, which makes it difficult to get pictures.

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    2. You were right, I was wrong... apparently they are probably mallard hybrids - crossed, perhaps, with a domestic duck... which accounts for the discrepancies in appearance.

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  5. I don't know anything about these birds, sadly, except that they are exquisite. As beautiful as gemstones, I think. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you Deb! They are lovely. I just wish I knew what they are.

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  6. No idea what they are, but those are fabulous pictures of them. I especially like the first one. They look like an old couple going for a walk.

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    1. They do, don't they! If you know how often I've stood there watching them, trying to get some photos!

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  7. I am terrible at identifying birds or ducks...I'm kind of oblivious. My mother used to have books on birds and could identify the ones in our environment.

    Thanks for sharing...and good luck identifying them! And thanks for visiting my blog.

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    1. I'm OK on birds I see all the time, and I've got some books my mother gave me, but they've not really helped with these particular birds.

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  8. Isn't it great that you can ask for help with identifying? Hope you find your answer♫ If not, maybe you can claim them as Harding Ducks! Happy week-end♥

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    1. The wonders of modern technology! I shall think of them as Harding Ducks for ever more... unless, of course, they are geese!

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  9. This looks like a Mallard hybrid, possibly crossed with a domestic duck or another duck species. It has the curled tail and yellow beak of a male Mallard plus the iridescent green color in the feathers. Cross breeding is fairly common in ducks, particularly among Mallards. (That's why you didn't see them in a book.)

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    1. I did wonder about the possibility of a hybrid - I once lived on a boat on the Thames, and there were some very strange ducks, the result, so I was told, of cross breeding between mallards and exotic ducks which escaped. But they are so much bigger than mallards that I discounted the idea.

      Thank you.

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    2. The Mallard can cross breed with a lot of other ducks so perhaps one of its parents was something large. And to make it more complicated, the hybrids can be fertile and create even more weird hybrids. I think we should just call it the Harding Duck. :)

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    3. I'll go with that! I've spent hours trying to get close enough to take a photo that showed the detail, but they are very shy. They are quite magical really, because they are so very dark that the colours and markings, and sheen on the plummage, are hidden until you are near, then you realise how beautiful they are. I'm very grateful for your help.


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  10. Beautiful ducks -- you got some great shots of them! Here's my Saturday Snapshot post.

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    1. Thank you Melissa, I'm glad you liked them.

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  11. It's always fascinating to see different birds. I initially thought that these were quite similar to some ducks I saw in Dublin a few years ago, and while the body is similar in colouration (although mine were less green), the ones I saw had black bills. I've always meant to do a post on the birds I saw in Ireland, perhaps I should get around to it sometime. I like Leslie's suggestion about Mallard hybrids.

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    1. Oh, do write about them and post some pictures -I'd love to see them. Scoters have dark bills I think, and some varieties of them are very dark.

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  12. Christine,

    I'm still just a beginner, and my bird books are all for North America. But I found this website, maybe you know of it already. http://www.rspb.org.uk/ You may get some help there, including contacting them to help ID birds. Thanks for posting these beautiful water birds.

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    1. Arti, thank you for looking, and for the link. I did have a quick look at the RSPB site, but didn't realise I could ask them for help to ID birds. I think Leslie is right about them being mallard hybrids, but I might contact the RSPB as well. The society has a new wetlands site near us, with all kinds of water birds, which I want to visit.

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  13. Can't help you but they are beautiful! Nice colouring.

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    1. Eugenia, Leslie, at Under My Apple Tree, thinks they are probably some kind of mallard cross, and the more I look the pictures, the more right thst seems to be. But I am going to contact the RSPB as well- apparently they have a service where they identify birds.

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  14. Good job getting such clear photos of them. It's like an adventure to find a kind of bird you can't identify. Here's Mine

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    1. Thank you Paulita - I was pleased with the way these came out, and they do show some of the detail.

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  15. I can't help you either, although I enjoyed the pictures. They look like mallards, let us know when you find out. Thanks for visiting my blog!

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    1. Leslie, at Under My Apple Tree, knows about birds, and thinks they are some kind of mallard cross.

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  16. My knowledge of ducks is limited to the children's classic M<ake Way For the Ducklings!! But your photos are lovely...whatever they are!

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    1. Don't think I've ever come across that, but it sound like fun!

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  17. Great pics. I like how you call the duck in the second picture "This".
    Simply "This..... stayed here long enough."
    This The Mystery Duck.
    Sounds like a new super-hero.

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    1. Mistake and bad editing on my part - should say 'This one'! But I reckon I could write about a super-duck hero who rescues people in trouble..

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  18. Those Muscovy ducks do look exotic! I don't think I've ever seen one.

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    1. They are certainly not native to the UK and, despite the name, they have no connection with Russia - they're from South America, Mexico area. Muscovies that you see in the wild in Britain, like the ones I spotted on the canal, are domesticated birds that have escaped.

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  19. Thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday. Love to see new commenters. What a intriguing woman your grandmother must have been. You should write a book! Do you still do any journalism? jf

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    1. It was a pleasure to visit! Intriguing is the right word for my grandmother - she was a lovely, gentle lady, who rarely spoke about her past.

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  20. Love your photos, so glad Leslie under the Apple Tree was able to help with identity.

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    1. Three cheers for the Internet! I have a problem, I ask for help, and bingo, someone gives me the answer, almost instantaneously.

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  21. I wish I knew! I usually just see mallards or Canadian geese around my neighborhood. The geese are usually mean as hell too, although my beagle enjoys chasing them lol.

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    1. Mallards and Canada Geese are prolific around here, and the geese are very friendly in the areas where there are lots of visitors. I think they get used to people throwing down bread!

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  22. My husband and I love to take photos of birds on our walks. He's also forever trying to identify unusual birds we see. I'll have to show these photos to him, even though it seems you've figured out what they are. :-)

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    1. Alison, any further help would be much appreciated.

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  23. I have the answer for you! They're mallard-muscovy crosses. We have a lot of them down here on Galveston Bay, in Texas. The strange thing is, I can't remember ever seeing a female cross - only the males. But they can be very striking, especially when the black and white mottling is pronounced.

    Sometimes, the only sign of the muscovy on a mallard drake is a white patch on his chest. But you know what's happened - there's lots and lots of romance goes on among thse critters!

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    1. It does seem to be the answer. I know you can get some strange 'cross' ducks, but these are so dark, and so much bigger than a mallard it made me think they must be some rare species! I'm glad the mystery is solved. Thank you.

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  24. Great photos! Those Muscovy ducks are quite something. I've never seen them before.

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    1. Thank you for visiting Shari. The Muscovies are beautiful, and very distinctive looking.

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  25. I never would have guessed at a hybrid, but they are quite beautiful! The Muscovy ducks are pretty too!

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    1. They seem to have confused most people Alyce (especially me!)I couldn't even work out if they ducks or geese, but the response has been fantastic, and I now know what these birds are - all thanks to your Saturday Snapshot spot, so thank you for hosting it and giving me to a platform where I could shout for help!

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