Wildfowl (Collins New Naturalist Library, Volume 110)
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New Naturalist Wildfowl provides a much-anticipated overview of the fascinating birds that have become icons of our diminishing wilderness areas.
Wildfowl --" swans, geese and ducks --" have been the subject of poetry, fables, folklore and music, and a source of inspiration to writers, artists, historians and naturalists alike. Historically, they have featured prominently in our diet --" more recently they have become the most widely domesticated group of birds. Wildfowl have been scientifically studied more intensively than any other group of birds and were one of the first groups to highlight more general issues of conservation. Their status as the most popular group of birds is underlined by the success of the original Wildfowl Trust (now the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust).
David Cabot has been obsessed with wildfowl for nearly sixty years. In this seminal new work, he discusses the 56 species of wildfowl that have been recorded either in a natural state, or that have been introduced and now maintain self-sustaining populations in Britain and Ireland. He focuses on their social behaviour, feeding ecology and population dynamics, and in particular their seasonal migration patterns. He also explores the evolution and history of wildfowl and our long relationship with them, through popular mythology and legends, which continue to fascinate us with a sense of mystery and awe.
maritime, feeding on intertidal mudflats picking up eelgrass and algae, especially sea lettuce, or grazing salt–marsh vegetation, of which common saltmarsh–grass and sea plantain are favourite species. Barnacle geese, with one of the shortest goose bills facilitating precise pecking and some of the fastest pecking rates, specialise on small plants such as white clover and red fescue in maritime grasslands, especially in plantain swards on the western seaboards of Ireland and Scotland. The
carried by a regularly occurring intestinal parasite, the thorny-headed intestinal worm Profilicollis botulus, contracted principally by eating its intermediate host, the shore crab. It was concluded that food shortages were responsible, and it was hypothesised that overfishing of cockles and mussels – principal food of the eiders – in the Wadden Sea in the early 1990s had reduced the food resources.13 Other possible causes of mortality were examined – oil pollution, poisoning with contaminants,
of individuals can be made. The age of pairing, first successful breeding and reproductive performance during the lifetime of a goose or swan can be easily tracked. Divorce rates can be monitored, inter-site movements followed and more dependable mortality rates can be calculated compared with calculations based on the recovery of metal rings. Individually marked birds can be monitored during studies of wildfowl energetics, especially the relationship between body condition (as indicated by
the Holkham-Beeston area and in the valley of the River Bure, where it benefits from protection.139 It breeds commonly throughout most of Norfolk and Suffolk and is increasing rapidly in the Midlands (especially at Rutland Water) and in the home counties. In recent years it has been spreading both west and south, with first breeding records in Essex (1979), Somerset (1982) and Cambridgeshire (1988). It has been a much less successful colonist in terms of expanding its numbers and range than two
in Norway and Finland, but it is thought that birds from northern Russia may also winter in British and Irish coastal waters. Small numbers of moulters, mostly adults, are present, mixed with black scoters, at traditional British east-coast moulting sites from late summer onwards. These are joined by females and juveniles throughout August and September. Large numbers also moult in Danish coastal waters. Velvet scoters are regular visitors, in small numbers, to Irish coastal waters, principally