Shelduck by Annie Kerridge

May 2020 – Aviculture

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4 Jun 2020

Shelduck keeping the flamingos company

May, a month of promise and new life, not to mention the glorious weather has seen many of our birds nesting and chicks hatching and growing well.

One of the lovely surprises this month has been the fantastic brood of common shelduck that have been keeping the flamingo company and certainly enjoying their food; much needed for the hungry brood of eighteen ducklings seen in the picture below!

Common shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) is one of our largest ducks, and very handsome with a dark green head, red bill and a chestnut-brown band across its white body. They can be seen along the coastline, especially in winter. Summer breeding pairs often come inland, and one pair in particular like our flamingo area and nest around here every year.

They normally lay eight to twelve eggs, and the brood this year will likely have been produced by two laying females. The phenomenon of a number of females laying in the same nest has been frequently reported in shelduck. They are very sociable during the breeding season, unlike most ducks, and broods will sometimes be seen to creche after they have hatched. However, so far all the ducklings are doing well, with just one set of parents!

Another youngster doing well is our first ever European crane chick. The picture below was taken during a routine worming and health check. We are thrilled to see it growing so well.

The red squirrels are also definitely showing signs of feeding kittens, although we have yet to see any emerge. We will be watching out in anticipation, and keep you updated.

Main image: Shelduck at Pensthorpe (Annie Kerridge)

shelduck ducklings

Shelduck ducklings at Pensthorpe (Chrissie Kelley)

Crane chick at Pensthorpe

Crane chick at Pensthorpe (Kat MacPherson)