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Shelduck

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A familiar large bird found on the mudflats around Poole and Christchurch harbours.


 

Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

Shelduck: the shell eating duck

Post date: Wednesday, 11 November, 2015 - 00:00

A visit to Poole Harbour at any time of year will undoubtedly yield a number of these handsome ducks. In winter, however, the numbers increase with birds coming south from northern Britain and Scandinavia.

The shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) is not actually a duck, and It not a goose either! Scientifically, it placed between the two and actually, it is not hard to see why as it displays characteristics of both. The diet of a shelduck is somewhat different to ducks and geese who tend to be vegetarian. Shelduck eat enormous numbers if hydrobia which are tiny molluscs that live in our estuary mud flats. Molluscs have shells hence the name - shelduck. The duck that eats shells; easy!

Males and females are very similar but the male (as in this photo) has a broader brown waste band.

Shelduck make their nests in burrows, often those of rabbits. How does such a large bird get down into such a relatively small hole?


 

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Sites List Distribution Map Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Shelduck
Scientific Name Tadorna tadorna
Status Local
Interest Level
2
Species Family Ducks
Visible
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Preferred Environment
  • Mudflats
Look for Big white ducks with a brown chest band
Additional Identification Notes
  • Seen all year round but in far greater numbers in winter when immigrant birds return from their nesting grounds
  • They are something between a duck and a goose in appearance
  • Primarily white but with a green head and a very distinctive brown chest band