Wednesday, 1 November 2017

More Hawfinches and incoming ducks

On 27th October, Paul W discovered three redhead Goosanders on the east side of the lake.  Unfortunately, I was at work with no chance of getting to see them before dark, so I assumed that this would be my second dip of this species this year.  I'd missed a male in March by a matter of minutes, as this species is prone to flying off fairly quickly from this site, so I held little hope of this current three staying overnight.

I was by the lakeside early on the 28th, not much after sun rise.  There was some low lying mist/fog rolling over the lake, not unusual for here, so I spent the first hour or so vismigging from the west bank, as the sky was relatively clear.  The most noticeable thing was a south westerly passage of Woodpigeons and 475 had passed over by 8:30, there were also 66 Fieldfare (over NW in three flocks), 63 Redwing, 11 Meadow Pipits, seven Lesser Redpolls and two Siskins.  Two Water Rails had a squabble in the reed bed in front of me and a third called from the base of the spit, so nice to see these returning for the winter.

Shooting had started up to the west of me, presumably on Randall's, as flocks of aythyas began to fly in from that direction.  They all flew to the east side and mostly out of view from where I was, but a quick scan revealed four Red-crested Pochards, two males and two females.  Only the second record this year, following a male in February.  I walked around the lake to get a better view, all the time searching in vain for yesterday's Goosander.  A Cetti's Warbler called from the south bank, the first time I've had one for a while, so nice to know at least one is still here.  The RCPs were never close, so I only managed record shots.

I had a good hunt for the Goosander, including Works Bay on the north east side where they were yesterday, but drew a blank, so it was a bit galling to see that they were reported again later in the day.  I can only assume that they were tucked in the small arm on the north west side at the time I was there, as I didn't check this small area.

I was at the lake again on Sunday morning, but not until relatively late at 9:30am.  I had just got out of the car and started walking the small road past the cottages to the lake when I heard some tzikking calls overhead, rather like a sharp Redwing.  Looking up I was amazed to see a flock of Hawfinches passing over.  They were very low, just above the height of the tallest trees and flew directly over my head in an ESE direction, passing over the back gardens of the cottages and then veered more south easterly to fly towards the lake.  Through bins, I had excellent views of their large bills, broad wings with large white primary bar, short tails and counted ten birds - an amazing sight.  This has been a fantastic influx and it's been great fun looking out for them passing through locally.  I've now seen 19 birds split between my garden and the lake.

This was a great start to my visit and it got better when I reached the lakeside and found the three Goosander were still present and were just off the spit.  It is quite surprising that these birds have decided to stay here for so long and in fact they were still present on the 31st, so that's at least five days so far.  They are all redheads, but I think they are possibly two juvenile males and a female.

I didn't see too much that was different on the 30th, though I did manage some reasonable views of Little Grebe, a species that is just occasional here - I think that the shot below is reminiscent of the style of an Ian Lewington painting.  I also found that a nice male Ferruginous x Pochard hybrid was here, presumably the same bird that here sporadically last winter.  However, I didn't actually see it, but found it in one of my Goosander photos when reviewing them last night!  I've cropped it out below and it was right on the edge of the shot and not in focus, so just a record.

Finally, yesterday, the 31st, I found three Pintail on the east side, a moulting male and two females.  Yet again, they found their way into Works Bay, which seems to be a favoured site for wildfowl. These are the first on patch this year and represent my 144th species for the year so far, a year that is breaking all my records.