Gadwall & Grebe

gadwall sketchesgadwall upendingI’M IN LUCK as one of the ducks that I’d like to get more familiar with is there just in front of the hide at Pugneys reserve lake; I sketch a pair of gadwall dabbling and occasionally upending.

gadwall dabbling

The male looks plain grey but when I get the binoculars on him the finely striped breast comes into focus. The female looks rather like a female mallard.

Tufted, Shoveller & Pochard

tufteds ducks


Most of the other ducks are resting. Pochard and tufted duck outnumber the gadwalls by about a hundred to one but all of them are resting, head tucked beneath the wing. Occasionally they’ll all move away from the willowy bank, perhaps because they become aware of a dog passing by on the nearby path.

tufted ducks

tufted duckThey’re not adopting the sort of pose that would be useful in a field guide but I do my best to get the head-tucked-in pose down on paper and to take in their general shape and proportion.

They turn around as they float so that isn’t as straightforward as you might think that it should be.

shovellersThe shoveller are more active and a small group of males and females crosses the lake, helpfully keeping that field guide pose as they move.


Inevitably my eye is drawn to the striking plumage of the drakes.



grebe winter plumageI’m not used to seeing the great-crested grebe at this time of year so I take notes about its appearance and check it against the book later.

Usually we see them out on the middle of a lake where they seem larger. This one, that diving close to the hide, didn’t seem much larger thangrebe diving the black-headed gull which was following it around probably with the intention of stealing any tiddler that it might catch.

grebe preeningThe grebe is a white as a penguin beneath when it turns to preen its breast between dives.

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