Unexpected species of birds thrive where shallow expanses of water and adjacent grassland merge, resulting in seasonally damp to wet areas, as several species of duck are also classified as grassland birds in cultivated areas across central Europe. One particular treasure in this group of birds is the garganey (Anas querquedula). It is the only dabbling duck that only stays with us in the summer, as it moves to the tropics of Africa in the winter. Its preferred summer habitat consists of lightly flooded grassland areas, bog pools and shallow grassland pools. It builds well concealed nests here and find its food, generally consisting of small invertebrates and plants, in the adjacent shallow waters. An only slightly more common breeding bird in our region is the northern shoveller (Anas clypeata), which also prefers to breed in wet grassland, in bog pools and trenches and on nutrient-rich waters of all kinds. Its distinctive broad bill is ideally suited to straining microbes such as plant or animal plankton from the water.
The gadwall (Anas strepera) is a relatively new breeding bird on the Lower Rhine. Originating from breeding areas in the Asian steppe, it has expanded its breeding range to include central Europe in the last 200 years. It began breeding on the Lower Rhine at the start of the 1980s and remains a rare breeding bird in this region. It builds well concealed nests in damp, extensively managed grassland. Because it only begins to breed relatively late in the spring, like the Garganey and northern shoveller, mowing grassland early poses a significant risk to the eggs of all three species.