Country Corner

Female goosander
Female goosander

Bob Mackay of Loanhead, has sent in this week’s photograph from Straiton Pond.

Bob says: “Mallards appear to be the main breed of duck which frequent Straiton Pond, Loanhead. However, they have moved on at the moment and Goosanders (five females and two males - possibly a family) can be seen on the pond. I last noted Goosanders here also in January (2012) . My picture taken 2/1/13 shows a female Goosander.”

As you can see from Bob’s picture, Goosanders have long thin serrated bills for holding fish. These fish are pursued underwater in the fashion of an otter, the Goosander being a diving duck rather than a dabbler like the familiar mallard.

Goosanders are a species which was very scarce locally but has staged a remarkable come back in recent years. This puts them up there with the winners, when we tend to hear much more of the losers among species these days.

Not only are Goosanders turning up more regularly on our ponds and rivers, they are showing increasing signs of urbanisation,losing much of their fear of humans. Remarkably some have even begun competing with the mallards and swans for bread offered by bird lovers.

For a duck whose diet was almost exclusively fish, this is very unexpected feeding behaviour.

More country corner in this week’s paper