Hereford & Worcester

Worcestershire shovelers breed for first time in 67 years

Shoveler family Image copyright Vern Wright
Image caption Shoveler ducklings leave the nest for the water almost as soon as they have hatched

A bird that rarely breeds in Worcestershire has successfully raised a family on a local nature reserve, for the first time in more than 60 years.

A pair of shoveler ducks, which have large spatula-shaped bills, has bred on the Moors Pools in Upton Warren.

Shovelers lay their eggs on dry ground and the ducklings are led from the nest almost as soon as they have hatched.

Volunteer John Belsey said Worcestershire Wildlife Trust had tried to improve the habitat for years.

"We've removed trees to improve flight lines onto the water and have encouraged more marsh-type land," Mr Belsey added.

"We have a fox-proof fence to help minimise predation and we control the non-native American mink on the site to help both the birds and our native mammals."

Shovelers are dabbling ducks but unlike mallards that are often seen upended, they eat food off the surface of the water.

Females look similar to the much more common female mallard duck, while the males are chestnut and white with a bottle-green head.

Image copyright Rob Evans
Image caption Shovelers eat from the top of the water rather than upending themselves

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