Can't See The Birds For The Scaup

Monday, March 02, 2009 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


I was looking forward to a good weekend in the great outdoors after having to attend a business meeting in London on Friday resulting in an extremely long day. Saturday was meant to be a day of shopping but a posting on the Glamorgan Birds web page bought my attention to a pair of Scaup that had been seen on the lake at Kenfig NNR. This has slowly been turning into my bogey bird over the last twelve months or so with missed opportunities on a number of occasions. The closest I came was back in January at Cosmeston Lakes where I thought I had hit the jackpot only to find out that I was in fact looking at the much rarer Lesser Scaup. This time however I was in luck. We quickly picked up the female way over on the far side of the lake easily identified by the large quantity of white at the base of the beak. It wasn't long before the male made an appearance in the small pool near the North hide. The size difference is quite marked when compared to the Tufted Duck and the beak shape surprisingly different. The male appeared to be courting the female Tufted Ducks which proved puzzling. Is there a history of cross breeding between these species or was he just being a bit optimistic?

Elsewhere on the reserve the usual suspects were present including a superb Snipe in front of the North hide and some huge fish around the South hide. It was also good to see a flock of around eight Goldeneye and a pair of Great Crested Grebe out on the water. A single Canada Goose was looking rather lonely with his efforts to make friends with the Mute Swans seemingly in vain.

Sunday brought blue sky and sunshine so it was off to Llanelli WWT we went after a break of some three weeks. Things didn't get off to a good start with very low water levels out on the scrapes and barely a bird in sight. Still a pair of Stonechat and two Curlew close to the hide provided a nice distraction. Elsewhere on the reserve numbers were proving much better. As spring is approaching the numbers of Widgeon and Greylag Goose are beginning to tail off, but Redshank numbers were the best I've seen for several months with over a hundred individuals being sighted. There were also a handful of Black Tailed Godwits dotted around. The Shoveller numbers are also on the increase as the breeding season approaches. It was great to see the first courtships of the year in action. A Grey Wagtail allowed me to get some record photos but they are far from the best I have ever taken. It was also good to see the Spoonbill sticking around.

The highlight of the day though has to go to a bird in front of the Heron Wing Hide that I can hardly believe was there. What should turn up but a male Scaup. Before you ask this was a different individual from the pair at Kenfig and has apparently been on the site for the last couple of weeks. So in the space of two days I had firmly cemented the Scaup as a definite tick. It is strange the way that things work out like this. Last year I had never seen a Phalarope before but over the space of a couple of weeks I picked up both Red and Black Necked varieties. I probably wont see either for another twelve months or so now. Here's hoping that I prove myself wrong.

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