Monday, 10 October 2011

Mallard Ducks on the River Dour, South Kent College, Dover, Kent, UK

Mr and Mrs Mallard Duck out for a Sunday paddle on the River Dour at 12.42 pm, November 29th, 2009:

The Mallard, or Wild duck (Anas platyrhynchos) is a dabbling duck. The male birds have a bright green head, while the female's is light brown. Bowling Green pathway from Dover Police Station on Ladywell to Pencester Gardens
(Click this text link to see the largest size)

The photo was taken from the pathway at the rear of Dover Town Hall near the Bowling Green Clubhouse opposite the grounds of South Kent College. The ducks are swimming upriver towards Dover Police Station on Ladywell and The Park Inn (my local pub!) on Park Place. To the right, the River Dour flows towards Pencester Gardens and finally reaches the sea at the Wellington Dock.

The entry for Mallard Ducks on the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) website states:

The mallard is a large and heavy looking duck. It has a long body and a long and broad bill. The male has a dark green head, a yellow bill, is mainly purple-brown on the breast and grey on the body. The female is mainly brown with an orange bill. It breeds in all parts of the UK in summer and winter, wherever there are suitable wetland habitats, although it is scarcer in upland areas. Mallards in the UK may be resident breeders or migrants - many of the birds that breed in Iceland and northern Europe spend the winter here.

The River Dour

The River Dour is a river in the county of Kent, in England. The river's main source rises at Watersend and it flows from the villages of Temple Ewell and River, through the village of Kearsney, to Dover. It is roughly 4km long.

It originally had a wide estuary on the site of modern Dover, The estuary was a natural harbour for the Bronze Age settlers and traders in the area. The remains of a Bronze Age seagoing boat (from 3,500 years ago), was found in 1992, and it can be seen in Dover Museum.

The Dour Estuary was then used as a port for the Roman town, as a natural harbour for the Roman fleet. But this was silted up in the medieval period, necessitating the construction of various artificial harbours for Dover instead.

The river has been used since AD 762 to power various watermills along its route. These included 8 Corn Mills and 5 paper mills. Buckland Mill (near Buckland Bridge) was one of the first corn mills, it has now been converted into flats. Crabble Mill (is now a restaurant), Old Mill (in Kearsney - is now a private house) and others (also converted into various uses).

Other industries on the river included, iron foundaries, saw mills (demolished) and a tannery (also converted).

Kearsney, Kent and Kearsney Abbey (a former Grand House) are also beside the river.

The River Dour Trail is a new walking trail (set up by the White Cliffs Countryside Project). It follows the Dour from Temple Ewell to Wellington Dock on the seafront. The trail is about 4miles long and takes 2.5 hours to walk fully.

The word "Dour" appears to be of Celtic origin: "More likely is that the "Der-/Dar-/Dur-" means "water" (c.f. "Dour" in Breton, dowr in Cornish, Dŵr in Welsh) and "-(g)wen(n)(t)" means white/pure."

Ornithology: Mallard Ducks

Ornithology is a branch of zoology that concerns the study of birds. Several aspects of ornithology differ from related disciplines, due partly to the high visibility and the aesthetic appeal of birds. Most marked among these is the extent of studies undertaken by amateurs working within the parameters of strict scientific methodology.

The history of ornithology largely reflects the trends in the history of biology. Trends include the move from mere descriptions to the identification of patterns and then towards elucidating the processes that produce the patterns.

The Mallard, or Wild duck (Anas platyrhynchos) is a dabbling duck which breeds throughout the temperate and subtropical Americas, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and has been introduced to New Zealand and Australia.

The male birds have a bright green or blue head, while the female's is light brown. The Mallard lives in wetlands, eats water plants, and is gregarious. The Mallard is the ancestor of most domestic ducks, and can interbreed with other species of genus Anas. However, a potentially terminal side effect of this vast interbreeding capability is gradual genetic dilution, which is causing rarer species of ducks to become at risk for extinction.

The Mallard was one of the many bird species originally described by Linnaeus in his 18th century work, Systema Naturae, and still bears the first binomial name given to it.

The wild Mallard and Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) are believed to be the ancestors of all domestic ducks. Ducks belong to the subfamily Anatinae of the waterfowl family Anatidae.

The name is derived from the Old French malart or mallart "wild drake", although its ultimate derivation is unclear. It may be related to an Old High German masculine proper name Madelhart, clues lying in the alternate English forms "maudelard" or "mawdelard".

More information (including sources used and a Google Earth satellite map) can be found on this photo's original webpage at:

Mallard Ducks on the River Dour in Late Autumn, South Kent College, Dover

All River Dour and Bowling Green photos first appear under the River Dour and Bowling Greentags.

A Dover Birds, Nature, and Wildlife photo.

John Latter / Jorolat

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town

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