Monday, 18 April 2011

Blue-winged Teal

So, a very eventful day in the end. After not seeing alot on Hes East, just 4 yellow wags, wheatear and a few sand martins and swallows moving thru, I headed off for an evening shift at Wheldrake(you can tell I've got exams coming up, I do more birding than at any other time of year).

Arriving in the car park, I could immediately hear my first Willow Warblers singing away, although I had to walk a few hundred metres along before I clapped eyes on any. After that, it seemed like they were everywhere. At the Tower Hide, there were a few displaying Curlews and not alot else other than the regular dabbling ducks and a few swans.

I headed on round the corner, so I was viewing out over the Refuge. From here I could here my first Reed Warblers and Cuckoos of the year, adding a pleasantly summery feel to the evening, and reducing the effect of the chilly wind. I scanned a few pools, picking up a Black Swan and some of the commoner waders and ducks, but still nothing very interesting. It was looking like it might turn into a very quiet evening. None of the gulls were even roosting, so there was little chance of picking out a little gull, one of the hoped for birds.

I moved on a little bit, to just before the start of the boardwalk. I put my scope on a grassy pool, and the first bird I saw had white crescents on the face. I did a complete double take, followed by a short blank patch whilst I was working out what possible birds I could be looking at. The conclusion was only one; Blue-winged Teal. The bird then proceeded to swim further out into the open, giving nice views of the chestnut flanks, blue-grey head, and white rear flank patch. I have to say, at this stage I was very excited, and not necessarily thinking that clearly. Rather than take a pic (I only had my SLR, not my compact, so would have been tricky) I rang Russell, to check if there had been any recent lookalike hybrids, or if I'd gone mad and forgotten something obvious. I hadn't, it was the real deal, so the news went out. Getting off the phone to Birdnet, I looked back down and to my horror, the bird had disappeared.

For the next hour, Wheldrake turned from a brilliant bit of habitat with cracking rarity potential to a bloody nightmare, with too many unviewable areas, too many birds and far far too long grass. After a while, Andy, Russell, Craig and Chris turned up, and the nerves got even worse. It would be very stringy to claim a teal for only 5 minutes, especially if it wasn't seen again the next day. The light was fading fast. Happily the birds head was picked up again in the last remnants of light, and the other guys got some views, at least enough to confirm its continued presence. A very good evening, and my first BBRC rare. Happy Days,

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