Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Ruddy Duck

a Male Ruddy Duck I was alerted to this by the appropriately named Quacks of Life. The report in the Guardian is here:

The Ruddy Duck is a native of North America. Some 50 years ago Sir Peter Scott, the great conservationist, introduced three pairs of ruddy ducks to his Slimbridge reserve in Gloucestershire. The population grew steadily and some escaped leading to a healthy British population of thousands by the 1990s.
By then Ruddy Ducks had crossed the Channel and the first was spotted in Spain in 1983. The trouble is that Spain has the Ruddy Duck’s White Headed cousin (Oxyura leucocephala) which is much rarer [and endangered] and the Ruddy Ducks have been impregnating them producing hybrid youngsters that threaten the purity of the White Headed species and its very existence, according to experts. Hmmm, isn’t that how Nature and Natural Selection works?

So, the UK has teamed up with it’s European neighbours to wipe the Ruddy things out.

"The European Union and Defra are providing £1.4m to try to kill the ducks which also have breeding populations in France, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Ireland. Some other governments are cooperating in the cull, particularly the French, who have the largest colonies outside the UK. The Netherlands has, however, so far declined to shoot the ducks although Defra is trying to persuade them."

Hardly seems fair to me. Can’t we just "shooo" them away or round them up and deport them?


  1. Who gives a ruddy duck?

  2. They'll want to marry our daughters next.

  3. Nothing against the so called "ruddy duck" - named because in certain lights the gaberdine action of light on the feathers produces some wonderful shades of red through to deep marroon and to browns.
    Its classification is : Oxyura jamaicensis and its Family is Anatidae.
    Regarding the hybridisation in a light-hearted manner - this does put shot in the butt of those who insist on only "natural species" being introduced in new wild-project-ventures! Does it not?
    Similarly, it the 'powers that be' had their eyes open the situation is in the name:
    Oxyura jamaicensis: say this quickly: d'your make a sis - Do you make a date with his sister -
    and Anatidae: say this quickly: An' at it dae - And at it day (and night I'd bet, but ducks mate mostly in the day time).
    These ducks originated in the Jamaica Islands, were imported to USA as ornamental ducks and finally were introduced in UK as captive ornamentals.
    To my mind they are a beneficial introduction due to their feeding habits which utilize plant strings not used by many other ducks.
    Regarding the hybridization, all ducks including mallard and muscovi have always interbred with Aylesbury duck and even white goose species. So what is the real problem?
    Could it be the political attitude of wanted everything to be pure (black and white or most complicated) or is it that some people - I borrow a quote here - "don't care a ruddy duck" about that which goes on around them, when so many small contributions often play such an enormous part in making our lives livable?
    I wonder just how many of your viewers looked at this head line; scanned the article; then dismissed it as having no part in their lives, but not realizing that they were mistaken?
    B21 - Keep these gatherer-hooks to reality coming occasionally.