Saturday, December 29, 2007

a bit of a twitch

Well we finally succumbed and had a bit of a twitch today, and we're doing the same tomorrow. But first we had to finish the last two of our Timed Tetrad Visits before the end of the year, so headed back to the area we'd retreated from a couple of weeks back.

Again the shooters were out but they must have been struggling as we didn't see a single game bird in the six miles we walked through the Tetrads, which is in marked comparison to the numbers even a month ago.

The most abundant bird in this predominantly farming area, at this time of year, is the Fieldfare, seen here grabbing some berries before flying to join the flock, which was already well over 100 birds.

We spotted a number of raptors today, including ten Common Buzzards (with some significant variations in size and plumage) and this Female Kestrel:

We have to walk the tetrads again before Spring and then twice more during Spring and early Summer to complete them for the Bird Atlas.

Having completed the two tetrads, we headed over to Dracyote water for some lunch and our 'twitch'. I've been watching the photographs appear, on the Bird Guides rare bird photo page (, of the Lesser Scaup at Draycote Water in Warwickshire, for at least two weeks now. It's a very uncommon bird, the present one being the second in Warwickshire, ever.

We were told the bird was visible from the hide, so we headed directly to it, though I stopped to snap a small group of Goldeneye and was lucky enough to catch this drake taking off. I had no idea their feet were so orange!

We stopped in at the hide and I'm pretty sure I picked the bird in my scope. There was another birder there but he couldn't pick it though he'd pointed out the drake Smew on the far side of the bay. We decided to walk around and try and spot it from the other side. When we did spot it, it was on its own bobbing in roughly the same spot we'd been watching from the hide, though some distance from the shore and the path beyond. I took a series of pictures hoping for a couple to come out, to record the sighting. So here is our first Lesser Scaup, a vagrant American diving duck:

In this one I think he's wondering why we're tracking alongside him so he's checking us out:

As we continued around the very cold and windy reservoir the clouds blew in and what light there was quickly receded. By the time we got to the tower to view the Goosanders, getting a clear picture was getting tough. I like this one though the drake looks like he's getting earache for something!

So a good Saturday, tetrads done, nearly 12 miles walked, a new bird and sore feet. Tomorrow, fingers crossed a 'Tundra' Bean Goose, that has been reported in Northamptonshire, also for some time now.

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