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Old Tuesday 7th February 2012, 19:50   #1
PeeJay
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Ruddy Duck cull continuing

I'm sure this has been discussed at length elsewhere but the culling of ruddy ducks continues http://www.sos.org.uk/recent-sightings/index.php If you still have ruddy ducks in your county and don't want them exterminated, it might be wise to say very little about them and not mention locations in blogs etc.


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Old Tuesday 7th February 2012, 19:58   #2
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Yeah, let's all do whatever we can to ensure that that the whole expensive and disruptive (but essential) process continues as long as possible... Responsible birding?
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Old Tuesday 7th February 2012, 20:20   #3
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Had a person bring up this topic whilst I was doing a talk to over 100 people a few weeks ago. The person was obviously trying to cause trouble but I said this to the crowd. If you knew what Grey Squirrels would do to Red Squirrels back when they were at cullable levels, what would have you done about the Greys??
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Old Tuesday 7th February 2012, 20:26   #4
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Originally Posted by Richard Klim View Post
Yeah, let's all do whatever we can to ensure that that the whole expensive and disruptive (but essential) process continues as long as possible... Responsible birding?
Agree with you Richard.

Undoubtedly it's distasteful, and certainly it's disturbing (likely killing) other species.... but suppressing news simply heightens the probability that RD will retain a foothold here, and then we'll have a second, equally disruptive, round of culls in future when that residual population starts to expand out again.

Whatever I thought of the cull in the first place, the only logical conclusion now IMO is to finish it as quickly as possible, stop spending (wasting?) money on it, and leave all other species undisturbed. The somewhat romantic notion of 'hiding' the last few individuals just strikes me as foolish, given how far things have come and where we are now.
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Old Tuesday 7th February 2012, 20:49   #5
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It of course depends on your point of view. I can see why the cull is in action and agree in principle with the aim of it as far as protecting the WH Duck. Conversely for arguements I won't bring up here as they've been said plenty of times before, I'm not convinced by it enough to want the death of some perfectly innocent ducks personally on my hands. I'm not going to try and hush up sightings by others by any means, but neither am I going to report any sightings of my own.

As for the squirrel arguement analogy - not exactly the same really - interbreeding isn't really equivical to outcompeting / spreading disease amoung a non-resistant population.
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Old Wednesday 8th February 2012, 15:55   #6
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Agree with the need for it, but there is one site in Notts (which DEFRA know about) which has never been shot at and is, as it always has been, the best site for Ruddies in Notts. If they're going to do it why not do it properly?!

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Old Wednesday 8th February 2012, 16:46   #7
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I'm not convinced by it either. I remember talking to Tom Gullick about it and he said that female WHs will only go for a male Ruddy if there are no male WHs around...and there certainly ain't a shortage of WHs in Spain....
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Old Wednesday 8th February 2012, 17:18   #8
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I'm not convinced by it either. I remember talking to Tom Gullick about it and he said that female WHs will only go for a male Ruddy if there are no male WHs around...and there certainly ain't a shortage of WHs in Spain....
I agree totally.
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Old Thursday 9th February 2012, 09:17   #9
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Please, don't follow myths - males RD can produce hybids even where male WHD are around.
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Old Thursday 9th February 2012, 11:27   #10
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Alternatively ........
I know this has been discussed at length elsewhere but the culling of ruddy ducks continues http://www.sos.org.uk/recent-sightings/index.php If you still have ruddy ducks in your county and want them exterminated, it might be wise to say a lot about them and mention locations in blogs etc.
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Old Thursday 9th February 2012, 12:24   #11
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As for the squirrel arguement analogy - not exactly the same really - interbreeding isn't really equivical to outcompeting / spreading disease amoung a non-resistant population.
It's a very good analogy, actually. Greys outcompete Reds, and that is part of the problem.

You could also argue that the 'disease' (contamination) that the Ruddy Duck spreads is its genes.

Any birder who thinks they're doing birds a favour by hiding Ruddy sightings is kidding themselves, as they will cause MORE birds to be killed in the long run. We can shoot the last few hundred birds now, or have to shoot thousands more in the future. Take your pick - hundreds, or thousands. It really is partly down to you.

It's amazing how birders think they know more about birds than BirdLife International, the RSPB and Natural England. Those that 'hide' Ruddies cannot call themselves conservationists. They are exactly the same as the Italian animal rights people who thought they knew better too, and that there was no need to cull Grey Squirrels before they broke out of Italy. They argued that it was cruel, and the squirrels were innocent, and nature should be allowed to get on with it, and the scientific case wans't proven (despite the evidence, which they disputed). They launched a legal bid which led to a pause in the cull. In that time, Grey Squirrels spread out of Italy, and now there is nothing to stop them spreading and wiping out Reds throughout the whole of Europe and Asia.

Tha arguments of those silly Italians are exactly the same as those used by British birders against the Ruddy Duck cull. They are as laughable and deluded to Spanish conservationists as the Italian arguments seem to British squirrel conservationists. And the risks are the same - the eventual slow wiping out of a species if the problem isn't nipped in the bud.

Read the whole sorry saga here http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/pt...ry%20paper.pdf
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Old Thursday 9th February 2012, 12:25   #12
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Alternatively ........
I know this has been discussed at length elsewhere but the culling of ruddy ducks continues http://www.sos.org.uk/recent-sightings/index.php If you still have ruddy ducks in your county and want them exterminated, it might be wise to say a lot about them and mention locations in blogs etc.
Or better still...
Ruddy Duck eradication bulletin 7.

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Old Thursday 9th February 2012, 12:47   #13
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Originally Posted by PeeJay View Post
I'm sure this has been discussed at length elsewhere but the culling of ruddy ducks continues http://www.sos.org.uk/recent-sightings/index.php If you still have ruddy ducks in your county and don't want them exterminated, it might be wise to say very little about them and not mention locations in blogs etc.
I think you may have scored an own goal, or at the very least, an assist. Surely, the whole concept was to try to protect a declining population of a species in Europe and much study was carried out prior to the culling.

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Old Thursday 9th February 2012, 13:05   #14
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Culling is big business here in Aus due to a humungous number of destructive introduced species. I have been 'lectured' by visiting British tourists including birders on how this is cruel and pointless.

What I see is total native ecosystem collapse in some areas where the food chain basically consists of introduced cats preying on introduced rats. So said people can self-righteous lecture me all they like; I will always support culling if it is for the ecological long-term benefit of native flora/fauna.
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Old Thursday 9th February 2012, 13:18   #15
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I don't understand how anyone who loves wildlife and birds can be against the very necessary extermination of potentially destructive introduced species. As in chowchilla's Australia, South Florida is completely overrun with exotic fauna (and flora), including monitor lizards, pythons, iguanas, Egyptian Geese, Purple Swamphen, and dozens of different parrots/parakeets. Some of these, such as the Burmese Python, are already significantly altering the native ecosystems. Others, such as the Egyptian Geese, have just begun their population explosion, and it remains to be seen what impacts they will have.

Fortunately, Sacred Ibis were exterminated before the population got out of control. We were not so fortunate with the Purple Swamphens, and their numbers are beyond the point where they can be easily exterminated.

Why is it human nature to avoid nipping things at the bud before the problem gains momentum and is no longer easily solvable? There will always be a large number of doubters who will try to block any action until it is too late.

Carlos
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Old Thursday 9th February 2012, 13:37   #16
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I think at least some of the doubters, of which I have been one, were concerned about (1) the evidence base that there was a problem and the ruddy duck really was a threat to WHD and (2) the cost. I have also have concerns about use of data collected by volunteers, some of whom may oppose the cull. I don't send my locations of badger setts to Defra just because they have commenced a legal cull.

I fully support eradication campaigns where species are demonstrably threatened, eg rat /mice eradication on seabird islands.

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Old Thursday 9th February 2012, 13:58   #17
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Why is it human nature to avoid nipping things at the bud before the problem gains momentum and is no longer easily solvable? There will always be a large number of doubters who will try to block any action until it is too late.

Carlos
Carlos,

I'm not against a cull of an invasive species but in my mind, in the case of the RD nipping in the bud would involve a EU ban of collecting exotics and not waiting for there to be something to shoot. I don't see money being spent on education or prevention amongst the collectors out there.
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Old Thursday 9th February 2012, 14:29   #18
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An EU ban on keeping exotic bird (or animal/plant species) is wishful thinking. The industry is far too large. There are too many hobbyists who love to keep birds (and exotic animals/plants). It would be a very divisive issue, and one a birding community even on a united front would surely lose (and not only lose, but a hobby that would suffer from alienation as well).

However, I agree that education is very important and should be a priority. In the mean time, we still have the problem of invasive exotics.

Carlos


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Carlos,

I'm not against a cull of an invasive species but in my mind, in the case of the RD nipping in the bud would involve a EU ban of collecting exotics and not waiting for there to be something to shoot. I don't see money being spent on education or prevention amongst the collectors out there.
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Old Thursday 9th February 2012, 20:21   #19
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Quote "I'm not convinced by it either. I remember talking to Tom Gullick about it and he said that female WHs will only go for a male Ruddy if there are no male WHs around...and there certainly ain't a shortage of WHs in Spain."

This is incorrect. I have seen captive male White headed Duck males ignored by their females who favoured the wild male ruddy duck who visited their pens. The two species are very closely related and probably have had a common ancester and its probably the display and bold head markings of the NA ruddy duck trigger a strong positive reaction in female WHDs and may be connected with their common ancestor.

Its equaly possible that the spanish population of WHDuck have become very inbred as 30 years ago the population was very low under going a " bottle neck " resulting in loss of genitic viability. Thus the males have insufficent agression to stand up to the NA ruddy ducks.

The WHD population might be increasing but though I could be wrong here , I think I seem to remember reading there were less than 20 wild WHDs left in Spain in the 1970s.

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Old Thursday 9th February 2012, 20:32   #20
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Surely, the whole concept was to try to protect a declining population of a species in Europe.
Except White-headed Duck is not a declining species in Europe.
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Old Thursday 9th February 2012, 20:37   #21
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...The WHD population might be increasing but though I could be wrong here , I think I seem to remember reading there were less than 20 wild WHDs left in Spain in the 1970s.
There were until the aforementioned TG unofficially brought in a load and released them.....
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Old Thursday 9th February 2012, 20:58   #22
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There were until the aforementioned TG unofficially brought in a load and released them.....
Genetic sampling still has the spanish WHD as less genetically diverse than european Ruddy Ducks despite the Ruddy Ducks being derived from a dozen birds or so.
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Old Thursday 9th February 2012, 21:12   #23
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Genetic sampling still has the spanish WHD as less genetically diverse than european Ruddy Ducks despite the Ruddy Ducks being derived from a dozen birds or so.
S'obvious. The introduced WHD were introduced to the introduced Ruddies and only true hidalgo WHD ignore Ruddies in the mating season. Ole!

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Old Thursday 9th February 2012, 22:08   #24
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Except White-headed Duck is not a declining species in Europe.
Depends on what period you're talking about.

Compared to 50 years ago? It certainly is declining.

Compared to 2000? It certainly is (population increased up to 2000s then fell by 50% over a few years - see here: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/239).

Compared to last year? Maybe not.

The species relies on a temporary habitat that is abundant for a few years, and then contracts in droughts. The population follows this boom and bust, when it is allowed to.

Uncontrolled Ruddy Ducks have a continuous stream of recruits coming from the north, so they might be in the minority in good years for WHD, but in the bad years they are a much larger proportion. And at some point we will reach a period of bad years where WHD are at a low ebb, and hybridisation is so rife that there are not enough pure WHD to build up a pure population again.
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Old Thursday 9th February 2012, 22:14   #25
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Genetic sampling still has the spanish WHD as less genetically diverse than european Ruddy Ducks despite the Ruddy Ducks being derived from a dozen birds or so.
I think there were actually about 80 birds contributing to the population, over time.

But considering that they could have come from a wide part of the Ruddy range, via captivity, then they could have had a lot of diversity to start with. If the Spanish WHD went down to a few dozen birds in the 70s, then there's the bottleneck.

The Ruddies never went through a bottleneck in the same way, as they were likely drawn from a wider population brought to a small geographical area, rather than being drawn from a population originating in a small geographical area.
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