I saw my first male Pochard on Roath Park Lake three weeks ago and was charmed by his handsome colours and markings. During my frequent subsequent walks around the lake, I keep seeing him and always stop to say hello and, as he comes very close to the lake edge, to take more photos. As I only ever see him on his own each time, albeit in different places around the lake, it never occurred to me that there was more than one bird … until today, when I looked more closely at my photos. Can you see the differences?
Each of these birds – it seems there have been at least three! – has different markings on its bill, and this patterning of dark and light pigmentation on the bill is the main way to distinguish individual ducks of many species when conducting field surveys and research. So, if ducks used ID cards, they wouldn’t need finger prints or retina scans, they’d need bill prints!