Huberman 396 Garganey Mallard Teal Shelduck

  • Issue: July 1989
  • Designer: A. Vanooijen
  • Stamp size: 34.6 x 25.7 mm
  • Plate no.: 98
  • Sheet of 12 stamps Tabs: 4
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Offset

Every winter tens of thousands of ducks spend the winter in water reservoirs and fish ponds in Israel. Hundreds of thousands fly over in large flocks on their way to Africa in autumn and back to northern Europe and Asia in the spring.

Ducks can be identified by their long necks, wide bills, pointed wings and short legs, with webs connecting their toes. Thin, tooth-like edges on their bills enable them to strain their food - mainly seeds, leaves, water plants and small animals - from the water and mud.

Ducks belong to the Duck family (Anatidas), which also includes swans and geese. Only three of the thirty-three species found in Israel breed here each year: the Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), the Marbled Teal (Anas anqustirostris) and the Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nycora). There have also been rare records of nesting Gargansy (Anas quarquedula) and Shoveler (Anas clypeata).

Most of the duck species passing through Israel exhibit sexual dimorphism, with the male being larger and more colourful than the female. The female is usually camouflaged in mottled brown, which affords her protection during the nesting season. Ducks moult their feathers twice a year, so that males in winter plumage are very similar to females.

Ducks fly with rapid wing-beats and may reach a flight speed of 100 kilometres an hour. The first migrating ducks may be in Israel in August. Some remain for the winter, and their numbers reach a peak in January. (Every year at this time of year a waterfowl count is held in Israel). By the end of April, most ducks have left Israel on their way north.

Most ducks that pass over and winter in Israel are protected species by law, and may not be hunted, with the exception of a small number of species, in limited areas. As a result of this, the number of wintering ducks in nature reserves and fish ponds in the north of Israel, especially in the Hula Valley, has been steadily increasing.

Shelduck - Tadorna tadorna

The Shelduck is one of the largest ducks, that pass over or winter in Israel. Its wingspan reaches 130 centimetres, and it weighs up to 1,200 grams. Both sexes have colourful plumage, and the male has a high red extension to the bill. The Shelduck nests along seashores and salty lakes from western Europe to north-east Asia. The nest is located in holes in trees, which may be one reason the female Shelduck has colourful plumage. Shelducks tend to gather in large flocks that may reach 100,000, at the end of the breeding season in Europe. It feeds mainly on molluscs, insects and small crabs. In Israel Shelducks may be seen from the end of October to the middle of April.

Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos

The Mallard is the source of domesticated ducks and is the largest of the dabbling ducks. The male has a bright breeding plumage, but in winter is similar to the female, with the exception of its yellow bill. In the 60s hundreds of Mallards wintered in Israel. Since then due to hunting restrictions in some of the areas where it winters, especially the Hula Valley, its numbers have risen considerably, and in 1983, 21,000 Mallards were counted in Israel. Dozens of pairs nest here, mainly in the Hula and Jezreel Valleys. The chicks hatch in April-May and are able to swim from their first day, but fly only two months later.

Teal - Anas crecca

The Teal is the smallest of the ducks visiting Israel. Its wingspan is 60 centimetres and its weight about 350 grams. The colourful male may be identified by its chestnut head and green eye stripe; the sides of the body are grey and the rear sandy-yellow. Tens of thousands of Teal winter in Israel from the middle of September to mid-March. During the waterfowl count held in 1975 43,000 Teals were counted in water reservoirs and fish ponds.

Garganey - Anas querqedula

The Garganey is a bit larger than the Teal and is a common passage migrant in Israel. Not many Garganeys winter here, and breeding pairs have been found only twice. The male, in breeding, is chestnut brown with a conspicuous white stripe over the eye and along its head and a grey forewing. Hundreds of thousands of Garganeys pass over Israel on their way to Africa from the end of July to the beginning of October, and return from March to May.

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Ducks in the Holy Land