Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sawbills on a Sunny Afternoon

This family of goosanders were enjoying the sunshine upstream from the bridge across the river Tyne at Corbridge (bottom photo) this afternoon . In the thirty five years that we’ve lived in the North East goosanders have become an increasingly frequent sight on the rivers here – something to gladden the heart of ornithologists but not quite such a welcome development for anglers, who resent the goosander’s formidable fishing skill. The serrated edge to the bird's beak is beautifully adapted for gripping a wriggling fish. This is a small family group – we once saw a duck with twelve ducklings on the Swale in Yorkshire but as many as 16 eggs have been recorded in a nest, which goes quite a long way towards explaining why this species has colonised new rivers so successfully. That mottled pattern of downy feathers on the ducklings breaks up their outline very effectively, against the rippled shadows and highlights of the river. Double-click on the images for a larger picture.


  1. Works well with battleships too, grand photographs, thank you.

  2. We get them here at times Phil; always excited when I see them. Like you say, top fishermen.
    Love that first shot of the young with the female.