Bird Families

River ducks

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Photo "Chiloe Vijon, Sybilatrix" can be used for personal and commercial purposes according to the conditions of the purchased Royalty-free license. The image is available for download in high resolution quality up to 5529x3686.

  • The country: United Kingdom
  • Location: Outside
  • Image orientation: Horizontal
  • Season: Autumn
  • Times of Day: Day
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Taxonomy

The phylogenetic position of species from this genus is considered one of the most controversial among all modern groups of birds. One of the obstacles preventing ornithologists from compiling a complete picture of the evolutionary development of river ducks is the fact that the divergence of the two main groups of the genus - mallards and teals - occurred relatively recently (approximately in the second half of the Pleistocene) and in a very short period of time. In addition, it is likely that frequent hybridization between these birds, especially within subgenera, played an important role in the evolution of river ducks. Molecular studies by analyzing mtDNA sequences create additional confusion, showing dubious results for relationships between species.

However, there are some major treasures that can be identified. For example, this is the classic subgenus mallard uniting Anas is a monophyletic (in a broad sense, not holophyletic) group, which does not raise questions among modern taxonomists. On the other hand, the phylogenetics of teals looks very confusing.

At the present time, it is more or less becoming obvious that the wiggles have a more distant relationship to other real ducks than the mallards, and should be brought into a separate genus. The same applies to the kloktun, to the teal-cracker, to the "black-capped" group Punanetta, and shirokoskam and other birds with blue wings. In relation to other species, sviyazi have common morphological and behavioral characteristics, however, the difference in their mtDNA of two mitochondrial protein-coding genes - cytochromes b (cytb) and the 2nd subunit of nicotinamide dehydrogenase (ND2) also suggests that their status should be increased to a separate genus Mareca (also including the gray duck and killer whale).

The proposed list is suggested based on morphological, molecular and behavioral characteristics.

  • Possible genus Mareca
    • Sviyaz (Anas penelope)
    • † Amsterdam Flightless Witch (Anas marecula)
    • American Wig (Anas americana)
    • Sumptuous Wiggle (Anas sibilatrix)
  • Subgenus Chaulelasmus
    • Gray duck (Anas strepera)
      • Anas strepera couesi - became extinct in the second half of the 19th century
  • Subgenus Eunetta
    • Killer whale (Anas falcata)
  • Subgenus Dafila
    • Pintail (Anas acuta)
    • Kerguelen pintail (Anas eatoni)
      • Anas eatoni eatoni
      • Anas eatoni drygalskii
    • Yellow-billed pintail (Anas georgica)
      • Anas georgica georgica
      • Anas georgica niceforoi - became extinct in the 1950s
    • White-cheeked pintail (Anas bahamensis) (formerly Poecilonetta)
    • Red-billed pintail (Anas erythrorhyncha) (formerly Poecilonetta)
    • Cape teal (Anas capensis) (formerly Nettion)
  • Subgenus Nettion
    • Indian Ocean hoard
      • Madagascar teal (Anas bernieri)
      • † Mauritian duck (Anas theodori)
      • Gray teal (Anas gibberifrons)
        • Anas gibberifrons remissa - extinct (circa 1959)
      • Anas gracilis (previously as part of Anas gibberifrons)
      • Chestnut Teal (Anas castanea)
    • Green-winged treasure
      • Teal Whistle (Anas crecca)
      • Green-winged teal (Anas carolinensis) (previously included in Anas crecca)
      • Yellow-billed Teal (Anas flavirostris)
        • Andean teal (Anas (flavirostris) andinum)
    • New Zealand treasure
      • Auckland teal (Anas aucklandica)
      • Brown teal (Anas chlorotis) (previously included in Anas aucklandica)
      • † Teal of the McCurry Islands (Anas cf. chlorotis) - fossil species
      • Campbell Teal (Anas nesiotis) (previously included in Anas aucklandica)
  • Subgenus Melananas
    • African Black Duck (Anas sparsa)
  • Subgenus Anas
    • African species ("Afranas»)
      • Madagascar Mallard (Anas melleri)
      • Yellow-nosed mallard (Anas undulata)
    • American hoard
      • Ocellated mallard (Anas fulvigula) (sometimes as part of Anas platyrhynchos)
        • Anas fulvigula fulvigula (sometimes as part of Anas platyrhynchos)
      • American Black Duck (Anas rubripes) (sometimes as part of Anas platyrhynchos)
      • Mexican mallard (Anas diazi) (sometimes as part of Anas platyrhynchos)
    • Pacific treasure
      • † Mariana Mallard (Anas (platyrhynchos) oustaleti) (sometimes seen as a subspecies Anas superciliosa)
      • Hawaiian mallard (Anas wyvilliana) (sometimes as part of Anas platyrhynchos)
      • Philippine mallard (Anas luzonica)
      • Laysan mallard (Anas laysanensis) (sometimes as part of Anas platyrhynchos)
        • † Lisyanskaya mallard (Anas cf. laysanensis) - hypothesis, has died out since 1845.
      • Gray mallard (Anas superciliosa)
    • Unclear status
      • Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
      • Spotted mallard (Anas poecilorhyncha)
      • Anas (poecilorhyncha) zonorhyncha - sometimes viewed as a subspecies Anas superciliosa

Species previously considered as part of the genus Anas

  • Bronze-winged duck (Speculanas specularis)
  • Kloktun (Sibirionetta formosa)
  • Striped duck (Salvadorina waigiuensis)
  • Crested duck (Lophonetta specularioides)
  • Genus Spatula
    • Australian broad-bearer (Spatula rhynchotis)
    • African shirokosnoska (Spatula smithii)
    • Blue-winged teal (Spatula discors)
    • Brown teal (Spatula cyanoptera)
    • Spotted teal (Spatula hottentota)
    • Multicolored teal (Spatula versicolor)
    • Teal pune (Spatula puna)
    • Teal cracker (Spatula querquedula)
    • Wide-nose (Spatula clypeata)
    • South American broadtail (Spatula platalea)

Flying squad goes into battle

Autumn 1813, French Emperor Napoleon was recently defeated at Leipzig. However, the French have not lost their courage and can resist for a long time. They left behind considerable territories - in fact, France, as well as the countries of the present Benelux. The military command of the forces of the anti-Napoleonic coalition decided to play on anti-French sentiments in Belgium and Holland. Fortunately, the local population was extremely critical of the French - the independence of the Netherlands was destroyed in 1810, the residents were tired of extortions and vegetated in poverty.

Portrait of Alexander Khristoforovich Benckendorff by George Doe / Wikipedia

A brilliant military operation was carried out by Russian troops, which returned to the Netherlands legal power and its own monarch. It was headed by the young Major General Alexander Benckendorff. Now his military exploits are much less known than his activities as head of the secret police, and during the Napoleonic wars Benckendorff was known as a talented and brave military officer. He rose to the rank of colonel in 10 years, in 1812 he received the first general's rank, and in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Benckendorff's name is mentioned eight times in the lists of those who distinguished themselves and wounded in battles.

Benckendorff showed amazing dashing. He commanded a flying detachment of 3,500 men (Cossacks, hussars and some infantry) and had his own plans for Holland.

At first, he was given the task of capturing some fortress in the form of a base for further operations. No one could have thought that he would rush to storm Holland as a whole. He, of course, could not knock all the French out of the country at all, but he unexpectedly managed to disperse the fortresses, demoralize and make the Netherlands unusable as a base for the Napoleonic army. Fortunately, the population did not like the French, they saw Napoleon with his extortions for military needs in a coffin, and the Russians were awaited as liberators.

The Russians did not attack the fortified Deventer from a swoop, but they approached the city of Zwolle, lured the garrison out of the fortress with a small detachment, caught it in an ambush, cut it off and took it prisoner. There was a Dutch general by the name of van der Platten, and a messenger from another Dutchman, Baron Kraayenhof, came from Amsterdam. These two knew perfectly well the country, its geography and the location of the enemy. The Dutch were pleased with the news - in Amsterdam they are just waiting for the Russians to start an uprising. And then Benckendorff had a wonderful idea.

Sea Cossacks from the Amsterdam Sich

Benckendorff selected 200 Cossacks under the command of Major Marklay and ordered with this team to rush to Amsterdam as in an ice-hole with his head - not caring about anything and not wasting energy on skirmishes. He rushed to the capital of Holland as if on wings.

The Dutch had no idea that there were only 200 Russians; the French, of course, did not know about this either.

The very fact of the appearance of the Cossacks was enough for people to decide that this was the vanguard of the army. So Marklay rushed to the capital without meeting any resistance. Meanwhile, Benckendorff himself received the order to calm down and not touch anything in Holland. The order sounded reasonable - there is very little power to occupy an entire country. But the commander of the flying squad was simply intoxicated with the opportunity to liberate the European capital with literally a detachment of several hundred bearded commandos. Benckendorff loaded 600 people onto boats, boarded one of them himself, and arrived in Amsterdam on the dead of night on December 6 through the bay on which the ice floes floated - right under the nose of the French warships.

For the mayor of Amsterdam, these were days filled with both glee and horror. At first, he was delighted with the appearance of the Russians, then he was almost hit by a blow when he learned that there were already 600 liberators. But the wine is on the table, you have to drink it - and the mayor announced that there were actually 6 thousand Russians. And if it seems to someone that it is less, he does not know how to count. However, in Amsterdam they were ready to believe in 6 thousand - Russians were greeted with music and drums.

Fleet in exchange for food

However, Benckendorff still had a problem. Admiral Verguel's French ocean-going squadron was stationed at sea. He lost Amsterdam and tried to gain a foothold at least in the Gelder fortress. But Benckendorff showed that insolence really takes cities. The same Major Marklay, who had already managed to scare everyone with his blitzkrieg across the whole of Holland, went to Gelder - this time he had to properly shake just one admiral.

And he managed to do it. Marklay did not storm the ships, but cut off the squadron from the coast. Verguel, himself a Dutchman by birth, was not initially delighted with the idea that he would have to die for Napoleon's hopeless cause. But if he knew how many people actually opposed him, then Marklay hardly succeeded in his adventure. The admiral could not even think that 200 people were going to Gelder, so he decided to capitulate. Verguel agreed that he would not take part in the battles, and the fortress would be handed over to the victors in exchange for the right to buy provisions.

Meanwhile, the Prince of Orange arrived in Amsterdam by ship, who was proclaimed the Dutch sovereign.

To say that Benckendorff was pleased is to say nothing. In a matter of weeks, with a raid detachment, he managed to clear the Netherlands almost without bloodshed. The French had only a few fortresses left. The commander himself received from the Dutch king a golden sword engraved "For Amsterdam and Delirium." And then in Utrecht, before the First World War, a special holiday was annually celebrated - the Day of the Cossack.

A methodical siege of fortresses, pulling up large forces and correct battles would cost the Russians and the allies a lot of blood and time, and the Netherlands itself would undoubtedly be pretty ruined. However, audacity, decisiveness and accurate psychological calculation led to the fact that the Russians succeeded in one of the most beautiful campaigns in world history. And the only one where the ocean squadron surrendered to two hundred Cossacks.

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