'Dabbling duck' research underway at north east RSPB reserve

'Dabbling duck' research underway at north east RSPB reserve

Could birdlife at the RPSB’s Saltholme reserve near Hartlepool effectively be ducking and diving? And are male ducks more vigilant than their female mates?  

University of Cumbria animal conservation student Joshua McGowan has had a life-long interest in conservation and welfare of birds at the north east reserve as a volunteer and more recently during his studies at the university’s Ambleside campus.

“Improvement and creation of habitats at reserves have helped birdlife and understanding species on a particular reserve such as Saltholme can encourage wigeon, mallard and other ducks to thrive,” Joshua said. His dissertation, entitled Vigilance levels across dabbling duck species whilst feeding in North Tees Marshes is now underway and over the next few months Joshua will be spending time building on his initial analysis.

Work so far shows vigilance decreases as the group size grows, with the exception of wigeon ducks.

“The project is looking at the birdlife but as with all science reports it can be applied to reserve management and adapt conservation to benefit wildlife on reserves.” Joshua said.