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Reddish Vale Country Park

Goosanders are members of the Sawbill family and belong to the Anatidae group, which includes, ducks and swans.

 

The name Sawbill comes from their long, serrated bills, used for catching fish.

 

Goosanders were rare in Britain as a breeding species until the late 19th century, when they colonised Scotland. They spread into northern England in the 1940s, to Wales in the 60s, and to Devon in 1980. There is no obvious explanation for the rapid expansion in their range. Exact numbers are not currently known but the last available figures indicate there are about 2,600 breeding pairs in the UK.

 

Goosanders feed on fish, they scan the water surface, their heads partially submerged, or dive from the surface, propelling themselves forward using their strong legs. The backward-facing 'teeth' on the edges of  each mandible help the bird to hold any fish that are caught, they also use their bill to probe for prey under stones.

Goosanders need 240-520g of food daily, this brings them into conflict with anglers and fisheries as they feed on salmon, trout and eels. However research has shown that because Goosanders eat only small fish, their effect on fish stocks may be limited and occur at a time when mortality in fish is naturally high. The predation is therefore not thought to have an impact on the numbers of catchable fish.

 

The goosanders in the Vale tend to over-winter on the ponds before moving onto the river in the spring to nest. They lay 7-14 yellowish eggs in a down-lined nest in tree trunks or ground hollows.

Goosander

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Weight, 1-7kg,

Wingspan, 90cm,

Lifespan, upto 7yrs,

Diet, mainly fish,

Breeding pairs in the UK, 2,600,

Winter Numbers, 16,100.

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Reddish Vale Country Park

Goosander