The ‘Tom Daley of the duck world’ hits a record high at Welney

09:23 21 February 2013

The Welney-based tufted duck

The Welney-based tufted duck

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STAFF at the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust in Welney have recorded the largest ever number of tufted ducks on the Ouse Washes, with numbers hitting almost 3,500.

Affectionately known as ‘tufties’, due to the feathers on the head, tufted ducks have bold black and white plumage and brilliant yellow eyes.

Known by staff as the Tom Daly of the avian world, the ducks dive deep under the water’s surface to feed and despite the recent deep water from flooding, they have not been fazed.

Visitors to Welney can see them at the daily swans feed, where they join some of the thousands of swans and other ducks that spend the winter at Welney.

In between the swan feeds the birds are out on the wild reserve feeding on larvae and aquatic insects.

Steve Wiltshire, warden at WWT Welney said: “Although the tufties aren’t doing anything as extravagant as Tom Daley’s two and a half back-somersault with two and a half twists, they’ve certainly made a splash at Welney!

“We pick up peak counts of birds such as the tufted ducks, by monitoring them regularly in our wetland bird surveys throughout the winter, which is hugely important for conservation because it helps us track the long term trends of populations.

“February and March are usually when we see the highest wildfowl counts, as birds start to move back through the UK from further south. It is also the time when males are looking their best in their breeding plumage and starting to display to the females.”

There are not many weeks left to see these diving demons. Water levels on the Ouse Washes are now dropping as it transforms from a haven for wintering wildfowl to prime breeding habitat for wading birds over the summer.

Swan feeds run daily until Sunday, March 10, at 12pm and 3.30pm.

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