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Assorted Wildlife, Birds, Blackbirds

Maybe they have a future at Oktoberfest?

What do this

Multiple stein wielder from Germany

and this

New dad

have in common?

Answer provided here (a lot of territorial action in this video, but the worm carrying champ appears towards the end):

Yes, it’s that time of year again*

Spring 2015: they have carved out their territory, paired off, mated, and are now feeding their young. The blackbirds are the characters of the garden, with their Keystone Cops-style chasing and the amount of worms they try to stuff into their beaks. As you can see, a beak filled with worms does not  slow them down nor prevent them from chasing off their competitors. We will often witness one with a beak-filled chase another with a beak-filled down the length of the garden, only for them both to circle back to Worm Central to try to stuff even more worms into their beaks.

Because they are cramming so many in, they often drop them all to sort through them. During which time, a cheeky starling will approach and start stealing some of the worms right out from under them.

The presence of the blackbirds at Worm Central emboldens our resident sparrows to join the feeding frenzy. We have observed an interesting relationship between the sparrows and the blackbirds in that the sparrows will often wait for the blackbirds to approach food first, and will also steal food from under the blackbird without the larger bird responding. I have tried a bit of research-lite to see if this kind of relationship has been studied but have found nothing yet.

Of course, it’s not just the blackbird families we are feeding. We have three robin families who have ‘trisected’ (a word?) the garden, and are as fiercely territorial as the blackbirds. We have Great and Blue Tit couples who haven’t started feeding yet, as well as a dunnock couple (well, it’s probably a threesome). And, we have just added a female chaffinch to the group, who minces around the worms like a delicate ballerina, but will not be put off until she has filled her beak before flying back to the nest.

We are keeping an eye on starlings, wrens, jackdaws, magpies, woodpeckers, pigeons, doves. And we have seen a few sparrows with feathers in their beaks.

Frankly, I think we are going to have to visit our bank manager for a loan…

Ruddy ridiculous?

Looks harmless enough….

A few months ago, an article about the culling of ruddy ducks in the UK came to my attention:

An eradication programme, run by UK Government agency DEFRA, and supported by Scottish Natural Heritage, began ten years ago. Yesterday it was called off, with experts claiming there are just two male ruddy ducks and no female breeding birds left in the country.

Whitaker admitted the cull had sparked an ethical debate. “When it was first announced, it was quite controversial because the impact from the ducks wasn’t being felt in the UK and people don’t like the thought of fluffy feathery things being culled.

“It has been pretty costly and I would say at least half a million pounds has been spent in Scotland, but it has been a project to nip the problem in the bud – early prevention will save more significant costs later on.

So, let me get this straight: there was no perceived problem in the UK. So why is a cull being conducted?

Ruddy ducks were first spotted in Scotland more than 60 years ago after escaping from a private estate in Gloucestershire in the 1940s.

Spanish conservationists complained that the birds threatened the survival of their own rare white-headed ducks by interbreeding with them. And they proved problematic to native white-headed ducks due to their aggressive courting and breeding styles, which made them a preferred mating partner for female white-heads.

The first hybrid white-headed ducks were seen in Spain around 1990.

Identifiable by their bright blue beaks, at their peak there were an estimated 6,500 ruddy ducks in the UK.

OK, so let me get this straight: because the Spanish thought they had a problem (um, why were their ducks so rare?), the UK takes action?

It comes down to the definition of and distinction between native and non-native species. And to my mind, the desire to preserve all species extant in this moment of time, actually believing that all species are naturally static and do not evolve on their own, is a highly debatable view.  I am not alone in thinking these actions and the motivations behind them are a bit suspect, but I face my usual opponent: the RSPB, which supported the cull.  I just love the way they support the preservation of birds.

For arguments on both sides, see

The Ruddy Ducks with Nowhere Left to Hide

Shooters Set Their Sights on the Last Remaining Ruddy Ducks

and while ‘species racism’ may be a rather strong term, this is an informative page from Animal Aid: Ruddy Ducks

and you just gotta love the Daily Mail:  Ruddy outrage! How lusty British ducks are being culled at a cost of £2,000 each to please the Spanish

(they had an article the next day entitled “We cull ruddy ducks to please the Spanish. Strange we’re so hesitant about badgers”)

Photo Attributions:

Oktoberfest Waitress:   Markburger83 at English Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hacker-Pschorr_Oktoberfest_Girl_%28cropped%29.jpg)

Blackbird:  By Andreas Trepte (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Common_Blackbird.jpg)

Ruddy Duck:  By Mehmet Karatay (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ruddy_duck_2.jpg)

*Apologies: to anyone coming to this site expecting stunning or even satisfactory photographs and videos. Anything generated by us will be the product of an iPad.


12 thoughts on “Maybe they have a future at Oktoberfest?

  1. RSPB has similar skewed views to the RSPCA I hope they don’t become as political and xenophobic as the RSPCA as then any ‘preservation’ of all but pure bred UK species goes out of the window.

    Posted by Josephine | April 28, 2015, 8:31 pm
    • What I find the most mystifying is that there is no documented problem with the ducks in this country. Spain either hunted or destroyed the habitats of their white-headed ducks. Is there any ‘conservation’ measures in place to build up the numbers of those ducks? Because the females hit on a solution for the continuance of their bloodlines: mating withose ruddy male ducks! It really is mystifying.

      Posted by mylatinnotebook | April 29, 2015, 10:11 am
  2. I Thought we here in the U.S. had the market on stupid decisions concerning wildlife…

    Posted by Rambling Woods | April 30, 2015, 5:09 am
    • Oh hoh, don’t even get me started. American stupidity fills the newspapers and TV channels the world over (of course we give them plenty to work with), but foreign media are not always so forthcoming about the stupidities on quite a few issues in their own countries at international and national levels,. Remember, the White Headed Ducks problems did not begin with the North American Duck, yet that is the ‘problem’ being addressed…..

      Posted by mylatinnotebook | April 30, 2015, 1:49 pm
  3. £2000 per duck is a crazy use of money, you wonder who took the decision.

    Posted by philipstrange | May 2, 2015, 2:14 pm
  4. Somehow, I missed this post, but I have to second Rambling Woods’ comment that maybe, in this case, American stupidity was bested. That’s hard to do. Gosh, I don’t even know what to say about the culling of these ducks–except that it is sad. Really sad.

    Posted by Tina | May 16, 2015, 3:11 pm
  5. Hi, I have nominated your blog for the Premio Dardos blogging award. Please see link below for details:

    Posted by annabelletroy | May 18, 2015, 11:01 pm
    • Thanks for this! Can’t seem to get link to work though…

      Posted by mylatinnotebook | May 19, 2015, 10:21 am
      • Sorry link isn’t working. If you click on my latest post, Jane Eyre Is Nominated…, you will see your blog listed with 15 others as my having nominated you. If you want you can just follow directions on that post, copy and paste the post from there, and nominate your own 15. But that is up to you. Basically, it is a shout-out for how lovely your writing is. Hope your bees are keeping well!

        Posted by annabelletroy | May 19, 2015, 12:37 pm
      • Thanks! Although I wouldn’t think of my writing as ‘lovely’, if you did, than great!

        Posted by mylatinnotebook | May 20, 2015, 2:38 pm

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