Saturday, 23 October 2010

Scaup-ing in the rain

Moth trap empty apart from rainwater and soggy egg-boxes and as I headed down and checked the riverside at Chester-le-Street it was driving rain in the north-west wind. Not very pleasant at all!.
No sign of the Scaup or the Mandarin though the other birds were still present but I sure I just could not see them due to the weather. Rain supposed to stop later so another visit this afternoon by the looks of it.

Late afternoon and I'm back, the odd heavy shower but it's dry in between and sure enough everything is present. The pair of Mandarin are again on the far bank, the male up on the riverbank as usual, the female swimming around in that little sheltered bay opposite the feeding area.

Mandarin drake

The Pink-footed Goose was also on the riverbank opposite and the Whooper Swan was swimming with the Mute Swans. I'm still waiting the result of where this bird was rung from the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust but they did tell me it could be a while.

Pink-footed Goose

Mute and Whooper Swan
The bird I came down to see was the Scaup of course and it performed quite well. Often will the Mallard and would come closer to shore when they did but always at the back of the pack. It looked a little smaller last night in the dark, than today and allowed good enough views to rule out its rare relation, the North American Lesser Scaup.  The high crown and rounded neck, the amount of black on the bill and the bird stretched it wings several times and showed the long white wing stripe extending nearly to the tip of the wings.  These all point to this being a Scaup (or Greater Scaup) than its American cousin.

Immature male Scaup

Immature male Scaup showing the broad bill and the black on the tip
extending beyond the nail.

Tufted Duck on the river for comparison
A Kingfisher flew by several times as I watched the birds but never perched up. Probably because of the rain, the stretch of water downstream from the weir must have had a considerable amount of fish as seven Goosander and three Cormorant were feeding there, and frequently coming up with a catch.  
Amongst the few other things seen were a small party of tits that flew across the river to where I was and contained Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Great Tit and Long-tailed Tit.

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