Sunday 13th February
Another wet and windy day, not the best conditions for Uttoxeter Quarry. As much as I enjoy going, there's nowhere to provider shelter from the elements. And a visit yesterday produced 2 Oystercatcher, 1 Dunlin, 2 Snipe, 2 Curlew, in addition to the 2 White-fronts and 1 Pink-foot, and all the other usual duck.
So when the pager mentioned a female Red-breasted Merganser at Blithfield this morning, that's where I went. By the time I arrived the bird had moved from Admaston Reach and into Tad Bay.
It definitely looked better through the scope than my digiscoping would suggest. Also good comparisons could be made with the Goosanders present. Also a Dunlin in Tad Bay.
Well, I did want to try the Blithers gull roost, but with a few hours to kill, thought I'd try somewhere else. So I went to Croxall, with another hide to keep dry in. But first, a little further down the road, the five adult Whooper Swans were still around. Here's four of them anyway.
With the Whoppers done and dusted, over to Croxall Lakes. A wander down towards the hide, a first scan of a raft of Tufted Duck and Pochard. "Ooh hello, a duck asleep with black head and grey back?" I thought, better get the scope up. On closer inspection:
It's a drake Scaup alright, not one but two, result!! And in time-honoured tradition, a typical Scaup pose! The bird on the right seemed to have more of the cinnamon-brown tinge along the flanks, so that would a first-winter. But I wouldn't be surprised if both are first-winters and the adult plumage is now emerging. But with these two and the Merganser, a real sea-duck day!
I wonder if the weather has brought these Scaup in? Or maybe they've been around for a while and just gone unnoticed? Probably the former, but as they did at Uttoxeter Quarry, Brookleys Lake and Rocester last year, wintering Scaup can stay faithful to a site/area for quite some time. Also around Croxall were 5 Redshank, 1 Oystercatcher, 4 Shelduck and 4 Goldeneye.
And with that little victory, back to Blithfield for the gull roost. Despite a wise position in one of the shelters around St. Stephens Bay, we couldn't pick anything out of the ordinary. But after a decent find with those Scaup I wasn't too worried.