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Last Updated: Friday, 7 April 2006, 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK
Bird flu experts' wildfowl watch
Over the past winter leading up to the first confirmed case of bird flu in the UK, 10 species of wildfowl have been monitored by experts as potential importers of the virus. They are listed below.

Some of the 10 species have populations resident in the UK all year round, but all have had significant numbers coming to the UK either as part of their annual long distance seasonal migration, or after being driven here by freezing weather in the east.

The seasonally migrating populations are now on the move again, heading north, to their Arctic breeding grounds.

BEWICK'S SWAN

Bewick's Swan

Number in UK: 9,000 individuals in winter only (a third of the European population)

Breeds: Northern Eurasia and northern North America

Habitat: Lakes, ponds and rivers, plus estuaries when migrating

Diet: Plant material including tubers, shoots and leaves

MALLARD

Mallard

Number in UK: 138,000 breeding pairs, plus 500,000 individuals in winter

Breeds: Eurasia, North America

Habitat: Anywhere with water

Diet: Seeds, acorns and berries, plants, insects and shellfish


PINTAIL

Pintail

Number in UK: Tiny numbers of breeding pairs, 28,000 individuals in winter

Breeds: North and central Europe, Asia, North America

Habitat: Lakes, rivers, marsh and tundra

Diet: Plants and small animals, feeds on mud bottom at depths of 10-30cm (four-12 inches)

POCHARD

Pochard

Number in UK: 80,000 individuals in winter only

Breeds: Europe, north and central Asia

Habitat: Lakes, slow rivers and estuaries

Diet: Range of plants and small insects, also small animals

SHOVELER

Shoveler

Number in UK: 1,000-1,500 breeding pairs, plus 18,000 individuals in winter

Breeds: North and central Europe, Asia, North America

Habitat: Shallow lakes, marshes, reed beds and wet meadows

Diet: Small insects, crustaceans, molluscs, seeds

TEAL

Teal

Number in UK: 2,600 breeding pairs, plus 197,000 individuals in winter

Breeds: North and central Eurasia

Habitat: Lakes, marshes, ponds and shallow streams

Diet: Range of plants and small insects, mostly seeds in winter

TUFTED DUCK

Tufted duck

Number in UK: 7,000-8,000 breeding pairs, plus 60,000 individuals in winter

Breeds: North and central Europe, Asia, North America

Habitat: Shallow lakes, marshes, reed beds and wet meadows

Diet: Small insects, crustaceans, molluscs, seeds

WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE

White Goose

Number in UK: 36,000 individuals in winter only

Breeds: Northern Russia, North America and western Greenland

Habitat: Tundra lakes, wet meadows and flooded fields and estuaries when migrating

Diet: Plant material including roots, tubers, shoots and leaves

WHOOPER SWAN

Whooper Swan

Number in UK: Over 10,000 individuals in winter only

Breeds: Northern Russia, northern North America and western Greenland

Habitat: Tundra lakes and wet meadows, plus flooded fields and estuaries when migrating

Diet: Plant material including roots, tubers, shoots and leaves

WIGEON

Wigeon

Number in UK: Tiny numbers of breeding pairs, over 500,000 individuals in winter

Breeds: North and central Europe, Asia

Habitat: Marsh, lakes, open moor, and estuaries when migrating

Diet: Mostly leaves, shoots, rootstock, also some seeds

Sources: British Trust for Ornithology; RSPB; Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.


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