With news filtering through of a lesser scaup at slimbridge, as well as a whole supposting cast of goodies, including a 2 greater scaup, i was begging to go....
and it worked!!!!!
a curlew flew over while driving through slimbridge villiage while we briefly stopped to watch an adult COMMON GULL on a telegraph pole.
at about 10 we parked up in the visitor centre car park, and while my dad used the toilets i stopped up the top of the steps and watched mighty flocks of wigeon flying to and fro over the reserve, guestimate at about 1000-2000 birds, and we hadent even paid to get in yet.......
Our first port of call was the south lake where desite loads of gadwall, teal, pochard, i struggled to find the smew that had been seen, so up the holden walkway, going in each hide as we went, still a few areas of frozen water on the 'wild' parts of the reserve, but a huge 3500+ flock of wigeon was on the tack piece, feeding just the other side of the pool, superb numbers and views of potentioally my favorite duck.
(Wigeon flock (only part of!!!!) on the tack piece)
we waited around getting flyover BARNACLE GOOSE (a flock of 23 flew over and a similar amount was noted being as wild birds recently!!!) and it was only a matter of time before the flock of 582 Greater WHITE FRONTED GEESE took flight over the far ends of the reserve, obviously with so many birds it was impossible to see any other geese in the flock and this amazing moment was all to short lived.
we continued on to the Holden tower, where it was quiet, another big flock of wigeon, barnacle goose and the ever present canada's and greylags. a PEREGRINE was perched on a distant tree and i took the high vantage point as an opp to scan the 100 or so WHITE FRONTED GEESE on show over the distant hedges ( i could see shape and colour (leg and body colour)) and as the birds were back lit after a bit i picked out a PINK FOOTED GOOSE sitting blissfully in the flock, but there was no sign of the taiga bean that had been seen. we had a slow walk back to the rushy pen taking in the feeders and another viewing of the wigeon flock.
a stop in the old rushy hide gave superb views of the PINTAILS!!!
Then in the heated hide ( peng obs????) someone asked if i wanted to know where the birds were but i declined wanting to find them myself among the ranks, just to prove to myself that i could Id one after nearly 3 years of not seeing one...
well after a minuite there was the more advanced drake in its spendid 1st winter plumage, some people may describe it as grotty, but i found it gorgeous!!!!
As can be seen from the photos, it spent most of its time asleap. but did wake up occasionally to show us the little amount of black on its blue bill. and even managed to wing flap once!!!!
( 1st winter Drk Greater Scaup)
it was at this point a phone rang amongst the twitching bregade in a scrum at the far end of the obs when exitement grew, a mad rush saw every twitcher run out of the hide (litterally) and peg it over to the pool outside the visitor centre. the only things i heard was its on the big pen. and by it i presume the american bird that had been seen. a few dude's asked what was going on and i just told them about the 'twitch' situation and we all laughed at the wacky racers style exit when the phone rang...
and i didnt leave, i sat in the obs watching the GREATER SCAUP, its lesser friend could wait,
It was now i piked up an odd looking tuftie duck that had briefly raised its head, and on brining my scope on the bird.
i saw the 2nd GREATER SCAUP, a much less developed bird and one that was very easilly missed amongst the other ducks, but it was subtlely different and once i picked it out the 1st time, every scan i was picking it out, no matter how far away the bird was or where it was.
after about 30 mins tho, i decided that we had made the trip over here so we might aswell go and have a look at the LESSER SCAUP.
And well we saw it, at close range and everything, but it was most unobliging bird in the world as it decided to stay asleap for all but 10 secs of the 1 hour i watched it!!!!! ( that was 3 visits btw)
but i did manage a few secs of video with its head up, be patient..
(1st winter female LESSER SCAUP)
It was while watching the bird that a text popped up from tim jones, saying that the female smew had now been seen on south lake, only 200 or so metres from where i was standing. so we headed over there with the LESSER SCAUP not doing much, a minuite passed in the hide and i clocked the Female SMEW swimming at the back of the lake in a small unfrozen area. i only had maybe a minuites viewsing before it again dissapeared, but now it was a snow storm ( and we could only see a few metres from the hide so we again headed over to the rushy.
waking past the LESSER SCAUP again, it was still asleap, i guided a few birders onto the bird, and a few interested general folk and went back to the rushy..
thats right with a rarity swimming around in from of me, i decided that the Greaters were better looking and went back to them.... next time if it is an adult drake, then i will stay, but another brown 1st winter female then no.. there is nothing in a (1st winter) female lesser scaup that you can really go wow about, but i get that from the greaters, no matter if there much more common on a national scale.
The GREATER SCAUP were picked up again, and watched(again) but i took this op to film the pintails, cause come on the drakes are stunning.
sorry about this vid, the bird was too close to fit in the frame!!!!
again i watched the 2 1st winter drake GREATER SCAUP swimming around in circles asleap.
with the time getting on, and me having to be back at my moms house in dudley, we decided to call it a day them, missing my favorite part of the whole reserve, the zeiss hide, but with some amazing birds, i wouldnt complain, the ruffs will have to wait.
300c BEWICKS SWAN
582 WHITE FRONTED GOOSE
1 PINK FOOTED GOOSE
23 (wild) BARNACLE GOOSE (yes martyn i have put them down as wild birds!!!!) (many more feral birds)
200c PINTAIL (complete guestimate)
2 GREATER SCAUP
1 LESSER SCAUP
400c tufted duck
2 Common Gull
well my good smew run continues ( and check out in a few posts time!!!) and as usual i have come away from slimbridge a happy birder....