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Pets and their people: Birdwatch: Divers move in for winter.

HUGE flocks of Tufted Ducks and Pochards are a common sight on open water at this time of the year.

They come to Britain in their thousands to escape the harsh winter conditions across Northern Europe.

Tufted Ducks and Pochards spend much of the daylight hours floating around in mixed flocks fast asleep.

They feed mainly at night and in the early morning, diving for the small water creatures and vegetable matter which make up their diet.

Such diving ducks are reluctant to take flight and take-off is an effort. They patter across the surface of the water, rapidly beating their wings. But once in the air they have fast, direct flight.

Tufted Ducks and Pochards tend to sit low in the water, which is characteristic of diving ducks. When seen from above the very round shape of their bodies is obvious.

The drake Tufted Duck is easily recognised. It is black, with contrasting white sides to the body, and the tuft on the back of the head is always visible.

The female is dark brown and has only a slight tuft. Both sexes have blue beaks with black tips, their eyes are bright yellow and they show a broad white wing bar when in flight.

The drake Pochard is a colourful bird with a chestnut-red head and light grey body. Its breast and tail area are black. They have a two-tone black and blue bill and red eyes.

Female Pochards are a dull brown colour with grey beaks. The males are more common here because most females winter further south.

A RARE diving duck from America was spotted in Devon recently. The number of Buffleheads that have reached Britain does not extend into double figures so its appearance was quite an event.

The Bufflehead is so named because the shape of its enormous black and white head is often compared to that of a buffalo.
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Nov 29, 1998
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