Sunny year's end
|Shoveler (Martin Kelsey)
Largely of western Russian and northern European origin, the Shoveler are abundant winter visitors to Extremadura. The raft of duck floating in front of me contains about 6,000 birds, of which I guess 90% are Shoveler. Amongst them are some Mallard, Wigeon, Gadwall and Pintail. Almost all are also asleep, save some sex-charged Teal whose excited clicking calls draw my attention to the sight of a flurry of males pushing and shoving to entice nearby females. There are other rafts of duck elsewhere on this water body and Shoveler also seem to be dominant in these too: indeed at this site the average winter count of this species over the last decade or so has been about 20,000 birds.
I return my gaze to the nearest raft and this time I carefully scan across the motionless duck. A few Great-crested Grebes stand out tall and elegant whilst towards the back there is a party of five Common Shelduck. Nearby, a brilliant orange-coloured head betrays the presence of a male Red-crested Pochard, close to which are bobbing, rather bizarrely right out in the middle of this body of water, a flock of seven Avocets.
|White Broom in bloom in mid-winter (Martin Kelsey)