Promoting observation, free range exploration, sense of place and citizen science, through the field notes of a naturalist.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Pochard decline musings

It was not too long ago that pochard would be one of the first wildfowl on the team wetland player list. Once a banker for any dedicated Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) counter this diving duck is now becoming as scarce as a Monty Panesar boundary. The Birds of Gwent traces its demise, from a bird that once turned in regular century counts (including one of 400) back in the 1970s to one of indifferent presence or absence and  often in single figures when found. This 'dropping down to the bench'  is borne out by my own time series of wildfowl counts from Dunlop Semtex Pond (DSP) and other 'up north' ponds. Nationally its a similar picture. The recent Waterbirds in the UK 2010/11 publication is more candid about  pochard trends. It states:

'The trends for Pochard in both Britain and Northern Ireland indicate alarming declines have occured since the 1990's. In 2010/11 the annual index for Britain reached an all time low with numbers approximately half of what they were twenty years ago.'

This weekend during a count fest that included such auspicious venues as Bryn Bach Park, Beaufort Ponds, Machine Pond and DSP the contrast between that other wetland mainstay the tufted duck, and pochard couldn't be starker. The aforementioned bird was present at all four sites visited with a collective count of 104 compared to just five (5) pochard from only two sites.  

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