Sunday, 25 March 2012

An unexpected tick!

Yesterday morning, before I visited Woodpecker central, I stopped off at Shoulder of Mutton pond. It was extremely misty, but through the clag I thought I detected a rare duck. How rare, I could not possibly have known. I phoned Tim, even though it was only just gone seven in the morning, as he had missed the pair a week or so ago. I think he was already awake....  "Tim, there's a female Mandarin on Shoulder of Mutton!" I'd like to think he jumped out of bed!

About thirty seconds later the fog parted a little, and I got a quick look at more of it. Seemed pretty pale, paler than being in fog could make it. Sure enough, another thirty seconds and for some bizarre reason the pond became almost completely clear, and there she was, in all her leucistic beauty. Something was not quite right - I snapped off a couple of frames before she vanished into the overhanging carr - talk about wary! Examining the back of the camera, as championed by ID gurus everywhere, I wondered if this wasn't actually a Wood Duck. To be honest though, my knowledge of the ins and outs of female Aix identification is fairly sketchy at best, and given that it has something to do with the extent of white around the eye, a leucistic bird was always going to be challenge too far on a three inch screen.

Woop Woop!

Once home later in the evening, I blew up the photos and sent one to Tim, who had managed to put a coat on over his jimjams to come and see it. His conclusion? Wood Duck. The great and the good, spread far and wide in weboland, agreed. What fantastic news! A mega on the patch, and so unexpected! As you can imagine, I hurried straight down there this morning, hoping against hope that it wasn't now consorting with Mallards and gobbling down bread. There was no sign! None at all! It had done a bunk in the night, almost certainly continuing it's northerly migration.

Vagrant Wood Duck on the patch! Wow! There was some considerable excitement recently when a female Hooded Merganser appeared in Kent. I learned with some amazement that if it didn't do anything daft, like hang around for three years underneath a bridge eating bread, it would soon find it's way onto the official British list. And guess what? Just like my Wood Duck, the Kent Hoodie has gone! I have just measured how far Wanstead is from Kent - 4.3 miles. So I almost live in Kent, and three weeks later a wary Wood Duck has just spent less than 24 hours on my patch and disappeared without trace. Does it come much better than that?! I very much doubt it! Get in!!

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