Country corner

The River Esk at Musselburgh rarely fails to come up with something interesting whenever I take a look.

One of a very few Goosander Ducks to breed in the Lothians has yet again produced a flotilla of bumblebee like ducklings to worry river watchers like me with their adventures!

She had nine in tow when I photographed her the other day.

She may have hatched more, as losses to urban gulls are a daily hazard for Musselburgh ducklings.

Fortunately she is an experienced mother and takes great care of her brood.

Minutes before this picture she had led them up the lower weir by a narrow rocky portage route up the side, like donkeys on a mountain mule track!

Once safely above the weir they returned to the water and recommenced ducking and diving.

I should explain Goosanders are not surface feeders like Mallards and other dabblers.

Goosanders, even tiny ones are snorkellers par excellence!

In one of my pictures of the brood, sadly not sharp enough to be sure, I am convinced one of the bumblebees has a wee fish in its bill!

Certainly they were all constantly diving.

As the brood could not be much more than a day or two old, it is obvious Goosander ducklings begin diving and feeding themselves from the moment they take to the water for the first time!

I wish them luck.

Give them room. Do not throw bread to them or allow dogs to chase them, and hopefully mum will not be distracted and will manage to protect them from territorial swans and hungry gulls, though if she still has nine by the time you read this, I will be surprised!

More Country Corner in this week’s Advertiser - on sale now