It’s been a while…

Right, I confess I have been very lax in meeting the challenge of ten ducks and ten facts.  To all my adoring fans, apologies for this shocking lapse.  After a lengthy hiatus stemming not just from the festive season and all the delays that come that time of year, here is another duck and fact.

This is the Tufted Duck, or Aythya fuligula, to give it its full name.  It’s a duck which thrives in most of Europe and Asia with sizable flocks as far east as Japan.  Although migratory, the birds can be seen the whole year round in the UK, though they tend to winter in the south.  From my own observation, they seem to live quite happily alongside other breeds of duck, especially the Mallard. They will squabble when people feed them, but other than that there seems to be no great rivalry between them.

The drake is black and white with a little tuft at the back of the head (hence the name) and the duck is dark brown.  Both have striking yellow eyes, which gives them a very eerie expression.

The “interesting fact” about them, is that they apparently throve in the UK due to the spread of freshwater mussels in the nineteenth century.  Tufted ducks are divers and feed on aquatic insects and some plant matter but their dishes of choice are molluscs, crustaceans and shellfish.  The spread in the late nineteenth century of the Zebra Mussel prompted a similar rise in the number of Tufted Ducks, as there was now a plentiful food supply.  Zebra Mussels are a fairly invasive species and, having been introduced in Cambridgeshire in the 1820s, had been spotted in Edinburgh by the 1830s.  Simple cause and effect: the more mussels there were, the more ducks there were.

Apropos of nothing, here is the link for the Tufted Duck Hotel in Fraserburgh, Scotland.  I have never been there and until today had never actually heard of it, so can’t make any recommendations.  That said, it looks quite nice, and the views are good.  If anyone has been there, or plans to, let me know what it’s like.

Once again, apologies for not posting sooner.  I promise to do better in future!

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