I've been having the pleasure of starting work early recently, enabling me to also finish work earlier as well. With the nights getting lighter, after work trips have suddenly become possible. GJM and MPR found an immature drake Long-tailed Duck during Monday morning, and it was still present in Tad Bay when we arrived mid afternoon. Unfortunately, it was preening and sleeping on the far side, and so it was not the best of views.
First picture with my new camera - a stunning start! Long-tailed Duck at Blithfield
We then popped over to Copmere where a redhead Smew had been found the previous day. It was showing fairly well as we stood on the jetty. We also found a drake Scaup - a bird that slept for virtually all the time we were there.
Drake Scaup and redhead Smew at Copmere
And finally onto Friday's excitement. Dave Scattergood had found a drake Hooded Merganser on the River Trent at Newton Solney. There was no more information on the bird other than its location, and as it wasn't too far away, we thought it was worth the gamble and so we headed over to east Staffs. When we arrived there were a few birders present. A brief chat confirmed two things - no one had seen the duck, and most didn't even know where to look. I confirmed they were in the right place, and we all started to spread out to hunt the duck. Another birder appeared and told us that the Hoodie had last been seen swimming up the River Dove. I wandered over to view the mouth of the Dove, and the other birders wandered off. Within moments, I'd spotted the fine drake Hooded Merganser feeding and swimming upstream. I quickly rang GAS (sat in the warmth of the car) and he banged on the window of the only car left parked by the river. We all watched it for 30mins before it swam upstream again and didn't return. Birders then started arriving, but they had to wait until 17:00hrs before it re-appeared. A marvellous bird, feeding in perfect habitat that unfortunately by the following day had managed to have its wing clipped!
The drake Hooded Merganser before it went too close to a lawnmower while flapping its wings