16 January, 2017

Time For A Wild Duck Chase!

Still suffering from the plague, I was determined to not stay in but get out in the fresh air. It's good for you, dontcha know?

Yeah, so [as you may have guessed..] I decided to do what I'd not done the weekend before [when I swanned off after various other birds.. Ahem.]. So, down to the Deep South [Hams] and a probably hopeless hunt for a little duck hiding amongst hundreds of very similar ducks, in a large area with many bits hard/impossible to see, that might not be there, even if it does exist and wasn't just a Tufty photo'd at a particularly amusing angle....     ::Deep breath::

Arriving, I started up the top end, planning to scan from the Monument ridge, do Ireland Bay, then hit Stokeley, with Torcross a reserve. A reasonable plan, I thought, but what would I find?

Nice flat light, not too windy, lots of birds. Right then....

I won't give a plethora of counts, not least because I didn't do many. [Shock, scandal, burn his rspb card....] I did count some things: there were 5 Goldeneye up the north end, some quite close;

Dum dum-dum-dum


I hear that song Every. Single. Time.

After an hour or so, I decided there were no Scaup of any flavour up top, but on my way back out of Ireland Bay, I met up with a Devon Birder [who I'd passed the week before at Mansands], who told me he'd seen 3 Scaup down the south end, but not anything smaller, so to speak.

So, to Stokeley Bay, where a wrapped up watch with a handy flask ensued.

The Scaup were horribly elusive, and took almost 30 seconds to find...

Now, which one is it??

What a dreadful showoff. Fortunately, the other two were a little more bashful;

1w male, female, Tufties

Also a nice assortment of gulls in that one.

There were at least 8 Goldeneye on view, as were a mere 16 Pochard [I suppose 16 is better than 0], and 5 Wigeon. Various gulls popped in and out to bathe, including this prettypretty;

Only Med Gulls and Englishme-

And this bigugly;

Actual wingshot.. gasp

Anyway, to get to the interesting bit, after a fair while, I picked up something that finally didn't just read as 'another Tufty'. 'Oooh', thought I, flashing back to a visit to Looe Pool a few years back.. 'That looks interesting...' It was The Bird. The One In That Photo. It is indeed real and.. well.

When I picked it up it was next to the 2 Scaup and a couple of Tufties - which was great, beautiful comparison - but they were now well into the neck and getting on for a kilometre away, which was.. fine for my Big Scope, less so for my camera. The Bird wasn't associating with either species, really, just happened to be in the same area when I noticed it. After getting a good long look and taking notes, I tried the camera anyway;

It's next to the male Tuftie, 
and all you can tell is that it's slightly smaller

Yeah, frickin' blobs...

So, no photo = no bird*.

A pity, as in the feather it looks even better than the famous photo, with less contrast between back and flank, and really good head shape - even with the wind from behind it - and bill [allowing for range; it 'looked like the Scaup']. Female and I think a 1w, though of course a little hard to tell. I had the bird for about 20 minutes before it lost me and in no time did she flap her little wings, let alone fly about, so I can't speak for wingbars, alas. That is my only caveat.
Somebody with a big camera and either a rowing boat or better fortune needs to put some time in, because this one looks worth recording.

Tuppence in.

Finally, a bird that did behave.


Also offshore another GC Grebe and further out one or maybe 2 RTDs, plus Razorbills, the odd Guillemot, and fishing Gannets and Kittiwakes.

Ok, two birds that behaved;

Dun lock

[One autofocus that wouldn't..]

Be Seeing You..

[[*Sorry, that should be '= It's a Mallard'..]]

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