Saturday, January 23, 2010

Spring Show-offs



How can you tell when spring is on the way? Well, one reliable sign is when goldeneye Bucephala clangula perform their ridiculous courtship ritual. We came across this small flotilla strutting their stuff this afternoon, on the Tyne between Newburn and Wylam. They were on the far side of the river and the dalight had almost gone but you can still discern the key moves that a male goldeneye needs to make if he wants to pull...
The drake third from left above is attempting to perform the classic display - head stretched right back to rest on his tail, staring at the sky. He's clearly a beginner at this game, because the gaze of the two unimpressed girls on the right is  directed elsewhere... 


... so this drake is showing how it should be done. First, stretch your neck until your vertebrae feel like they are coming apart and stare at the sky then....



...puff your chest out and hurl your head back until it's almost up your bum. Note that he has the rapt attention of the two ducks, while his rivals are left trailing in his wake



.. and in a fit of pique one kicks water in his face.
I really like these ducks, not least because of the sound their wings make when they're in flight...they sing as they scythe through the air and you can hear them coming from a long way off.

5 comments:

  1. It gives you a bad neck just watching them. I was out and about today admiring the Goldeneyes but didn't see any "performing", although some Canadas seemed to be getting a bit fruity.
    John

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  2. Hi John, this is only the second time I've seen them in action - the other was along the river Wear at Finchale a couple of years ago.

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  3. Cheers for your comments on my blog (http://dittoneastmallingbarming.blogspot.com/) Phil, I've added a link from mine to yours. Well you've certainly got a few more Goldeneye to look at than me! Nice pics on previous posts, especially snow scenes. Notice we both got pics of Icicles and Weasel around the same time! Both got an interest in horticulture and botany as well it seems!

    Adam

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  4. Thanks for your comments on my blog (http://dittoneastmallingbarming.blogspot.com/)Phil, seems like you've got a tad more displaying Goldeneye than me! Some great pics on previous posts, especially snow scenes, and we seem to have had Weasel and Icicles around the same time! Also an mutual interest in Horticulture and Botany it seems.

    Adam

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  5. Hi Adam, I've been enjoying following your blog for quite a while now. I come from the southern end of the country (Sussex), so I try to keep in touch with what's happening down there in the sub-tropical south! All the best, Phil

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