01 December 2008

A welcome return...

After months of waiting, one of my favourite birds made a come back over the weekend. No silly, NOT Britney Spears on X-Factor, a Smew! But, now you mention it... how bad was Britney on X-Factor eh? Okay, she may have looked the part but come on, what’s with the (very poor) lip-synching? Any way, I digress.

Yesterday morning I managed to haul myself out of bed in time to get a couple of hours of birding in before lunch. With time fast running out for me to add extra species to my "10-Mile List" before the end of the year there really was only one place I could head for, Long Eaton Gravel Pits. Bet you thought I was going to say Willington, didn’t you?

Long Eaton Gravel Pits.

Long Eaton Gravel Pits aren’t the birding hot spot they once were - they’ve provided me with such goodies as Black-throated Diver, Corn Bunting, Merlin, Pectoral Sandpiper, Ring-necked Duck, Woodchat Shrike and Bluethroat in the past - but they do still pull in one or two little treats. This weekend it was the aforementioned Smew. Unfortunately it wasn’t an adult male, but when you’re in need of every single year tick a redhead Smew is as good as any. I had chased after Smew numerous times at the start of the year, without success, so this was one bird I was more than pleased to see back in my "zone".

Despite the very cold conditions - well below freezing with the wind chill - I managed to record 32 species during my two-hour visit. As is to be expected at an old gravel pit site the main interest was wildfowl with counts of 162 Wigeon, 5 Teal, 16 Shoveler, 127 Pochard, 29 Tufted Duck and, of course, 1 Smew.

Other counts/notable birds included 29 Great Crested Grebe, 118 Coot, 1 Common Snipe, 3 Common Gull, 58 Black-headed Gull and 10 Fieldfare. There were also plenty of Mallard, but once again I couldn’t bring myself to start and count them! Don’t know what it is about Mallard but I never quite get the urge to set about counting the things!

Whilst out and about yesterday I noticed that on more than one occasion dog walkers failed to return my friendly “Good morning” as we passed. Having been ignored once again, I suddenly thought it might have been my appearance that was the problem...

...well, it was VERY cold!

The redhead Smew takes my "10-Mile List" to 135 species for the year.

1 comment:

  1. Love the pic of you. You look like you're going to rob a train LOL. Glad you got to go birding again. Sometimes those little boogers can show up in the most unexpected places.

    Sarah XX