Wednesday, 19 December 2012

3 ducks ticked, 1 duck dipped (again)

It's happened again, I've got all behind....too busy birding & trying to get to grips with my new MacBook.

Since my last post I've been up on various bits of Woodbury Common looking for Woodcock & Jack Snipe without success, and had a second failed attempt for the Green-winged Teal at Portworthy Dam near Plymouth. We also went up to the Blackdown Hills and finished the last of the Devon Bird Atlas surveys. There were lots of birds about, although we didn't find anything unusual.

We then went up to Leicestershire to check on our canal boat Muriel, and whilst there I managed to find 2 new ducks for my Year List. The first was a Velvet Scoter at Swithland Reservoir, which is only a few miles from the boat. I was checking out little dots on the far side of the water with the scope when Simon pointed out a couple of ducks about 40 yards away, one of which was indeed one of the female Velvet Scoters that had been reported there for a few days. That was enough birding for Simon, so I dropped him off in Loughborogh & went to Rutland Water for the rest of the day. I'd never been in the actual reserve before, so I had a very pleasant afternoon exploring. I was pleased to find 4 female Smew on Lagoon 3, although they were quite a way off. 2 male & 2 female Red-crested Pochards were also a nice surprise, although I'd already seen a couple at Exminster Marsh a while back.

Lagoon 3 at Rutland Water
I stayed until the light started to go watching the gull roost (worrying!) & as I left the the hide a Barn Owl did a fly-by right in front of me. A lovely sight.

Back south, I spent a morning at Bowling Green Marsh which was heaving with birds. The Long-tailed Duck was still there, along with the usual suspects, including a beautiful flock of Avocets, hundreds of Black-tailed Godwits, a few Bar-tailed Godwits, lots of Snipe & 2 Grey Plover.

Yesterday I had my first foray into Cornwall. I went straight to Dozmary Pool on Bodmin Moor, the lake reputed to be the legendary home of the Lady of the Lake where King Arthur was given the sword Excalibur. I must admit, it was a beautiful place, but more importantly it was small, making it fairly easy to locate the adult drake Lesser Scaup. There were only a few Tufties, Pochards & a pair of Goldeneye keeping it company.

Dozmary Pool
Next stop St John's Lake, which isn't actually a lake but part of the Tamar estuary. A Green-winged Teal had been reported there, probably the same one that had given me the slip at Portworthy Dam...twice. I spent the afternoon there, along with 3 other birders, but we couldn't find it in the muddy channels. In hindsight I should have gone there first when the tide was in, but it had been reported the day before in the afternoon, so I figured it was possible to find it on a low tide. I felt a bit better when I discovered that 2 of the other birders had dipped the Portworthy Teal twice as well.

St John's Lake
It had been a long way, but I drove home fairly happy as I'd at least seen one of my target birds putting my Year List on 217.  Back in Feb I mentioned that I'm in a Year List Race with a couple of friends. Well, for various reasons, there are really only 2 of us left in the running, and when I'd set out in the morning, Dom was also on 217. However, my happiness was short-lived as I arrived home to discover that Dom had been on a trip to Suffolk & added 4 birds. So, I'm now trailing by 4 birds, a gap that I'm going to be hard pushed to close.  I'll give it a good go though!

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