Sunday, 27 January 2013

An unexpected duck

Heavy overnight rain and a rapid thaw saturated the site but also produced some unexpected surprises. I started at Netherstead Farm, and bagged my first year-tick, an adult Herring Gull before Dave arrived. It was noticeable that there were a lot of birds airborn in the strong south-westerly wind.

We headed for the main pool, which turned out to be overflowing with water, but to contain only a pair of Mute Swans. The flashes were much more productive though. We could see John scoping something, and as we reached him he showed us a smart drake Gadwall. This was the first here since July 2010, although I see from my Birdtrack records that I have seen the species on four previous occasions. As I erected my scope I was told the ducks were all flying. When they returned, there was no Gadwall, hence no photograph.

A drake Gadwall

Fortunately many of the 90 or so Mallard which John had estimated, and 115 Teal, did return straight away. Amongst the Teal we could see at least 20 Snipe.

On the way to the pool we had noticed many Gulls on the pastures beyond Stapenhill Wood, and we continued to the mound hoping to see the Gull flock. In the end we had to venture just beyond Stapenhill Wood to get a reasonable view of the floodwater. The sight that greeted us was little short of miraculous. Approximately 700 Black-headed Gull were stretched across the field, a new record count.

A part of the Gull flock is just visible in the distance.
I was sure there had to be a good Gull amongst them, but eventually, buffetted by the gale, we could only find 31 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 13 Herring Gulls, and an adult Common Gull with the Black-headed Gulls. Compensation came in the form of a third year-tick, a humble Meadow Pipit which flew over calling.

I persuaded Dave we should drive to Church Farm and from there try the flashes again. This manouevre failed to add much to the day, just a single Grey Heron.

The year list has now reached 69. 

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