This week at Paddy's Pool hide we've been lucky enough to have some simply stunning views of a very active flock of shovellers.

Photo by Graeme Walker

They could be seen throughout the day on both Tuesday and Thursday with only a brief period of time around 12 o'clock, when they were absent, we assume they returned home to feed.

They spent both days stomping around and digging in the mud at the very edge of the pool, right outside the hide.

Initially it looked as if they were just aimlessly splashing around in the water, either playing or engaging in some kind of mating display by seeing who could build the biggest mud pie.

Unusually, the flock was led by what seemed to be an alpha male; this shoveller showed all the signs of being an assistant warden transitioning into his winter plumage, with distinctive rugged features, weather hardened by Saltholme's wind. 

After watching for some time it became apparent that what they were actually doing was creating new habitat, possibly for themselves or more likely for other species; a shallow muddy pool that would be perfect for visiting waders, allowing them probe around in the soft mud for food.

Keep your eyes peeled next time you're out on the reserve, who knows what they'll be seen doing in the near future.