With the wind having finally died down outside, I spent Monday afternoon dashing round the local patch in search of birds. I started at Swithland Reservoir, where a first-winter male Lesser Scaup had been reported, and it was easy enough to find and see well, given that the dam was packed with birders training their telescopes on the transatlantic visitor. They’re not the most exciting looking ducks you’ll ever see, but still very nice, if only because they allow you to use the word vermiculations to describe the wavy grey bands on their backs.
There was a little bonus in the form of a Wheatear that perched on the observation tower just as I was setting up. It looked like it had just arrived, and within 15 minutes it had gone again, no doubt to complete its migration to who knows where.
Then it was on to Watermead Country Park, to look for the female Scaup that had been reported there. Unfortunately I don’t know the site that well, so just spent a couple of hours wandering round the many lakes, without any luck. Not that it was a waste of time – still plenty of Goosander, Shoveler, Teal and Wigeon around.
I walked back through Wanlip Meadows. The pool had contained only ducks and geese when I passed by a couple of hours previously, but now, even with the naked eye, I could see a largish wader out in the deeper water. A quick scope view revealed it to be a Black-tailed Godwit, and after a few minutes it even obligingly flew to the far side of the pool, allowing me to confirm the ID on account of its white wing bars. Of course, for some birders Blackwits are ten a penny, but it’s a while since I saw one on my patch, so this was almost more satisfying than seeing a real rarity like the Lesser Scaup.
Finally, stopping off on the way home, I ticked a couple of Ruddy Ducks. I won’t say where, because I don’t want to see them fall victim to the cull, although I expect most locals can guess anyway.