1 Nov 2009

Ring-necked Duck in Cheshire

A phone call from Mark Payne alerted me to the fact a Ring-necked Duck had been reported in Cheshire on Astbury Mere near Congleton. A Cheshire 'lifer' for me and only about the 3 - 4th record I think.With the long staying Staffs bird a few miles down the road having seemingly moved on this morning it was felt this was the same bird! Grabbing the camera I set off to pick up Mark and phoned Podster & Malc to see if they wanted a lift. Pod was on the way back from Norfolk but Malc joined Mark and me and we were soon standing alongside a windswept Astbury Mere.

The bird was soon located albeit distantly with the Aythea flock and we walked around the edge of the mere for better view.

To me the head shape looks wrong! Mark checked the photographs of the Staffs bird on Surfbirds and the last one posted in late Ocotber showed the same pale patch around the ear coverts. The bird is clearly not in full breeding plumage and rather than being an adult we reckoned it was a first winter male. Hopefully the longer crown feathers will develop during the winter (if it sticks around) resulting in a more usual head profile. This bird caused a lot of head scratching when it first turned up at Westport Lake before expert opinion finally decided it was a Ring-necked Duck & not a hybrid. The bill pattern is spot on for  RN Duck - its just the head shape that's worrying.........................

Menawhile, garden birding whilst nursing a hangover after two consecutive nights on the p*ss, paid dividends when a Chiffchaff alerted me to its presence by calling. It spent an hour in the garden - mainly in the thick of a Fuchsia bush - before flying off. The call was slightly strange - reminiscent of a juvenile Chiffchaff, whislt the plumage was certainly cold grey / brown. One of the eastern races???

Plenty of activity on the feeders and I narrowly missed an awesome shot of the male Sparrowhawk that, completely unaware of my presence, flew in in at hedge height and landed on a post about 3 metres away. Unfortunately as I lifted the camera he lifted his wings and shot off.

Great views of the resident Blue Tits eating the pulp from Hawthorn berries. It craned its neck round to look at me when it heard the camera shutter.

No comments :