Sunday, 1 February 2015

Day 92 - Amazing American Wigeon at Nosterfield

Hey everyone,

Day 92 and quite an exciting one for me! I've been in a show this last week and last night was the last performance and I was looking forward to a nice walk and lunch out. Through Twitter we noticed that there was a lot of talk about an American Wigeon at Nosterfield. That's not far from me and not far from a place that does a great roast beef dinner (The Black Sheep Brewery)  so off we went.

The main hide at Nosterfield was full of people hoping to get a glance of this rare visitor which I found out later hadn't been seen there since the late 1990's. I was glad to be in the hide, as it was very cold and windy, but mainly as the birders in there were all really friendly and chatty. Watching out of the hide over the lake it had been seen on yesterday we saw lots of Wigeons, Oystercatchers, Lapwings, Canadian Geese and three Brent Geese -  a few tweets and texts came in reporting the American Wigeon was on a different lake, one I hadn't been to before, Flask Lake.
American Wigeon (Anas americana)

It took us a while to get packed up and over there but when we did the other birders were there already and had their scopes trained on it.

As I said they were all really friendly and lowered their scopes to let me get a good look as it was way over the other side of the lake, and hard to make out with my binoculars. I had a go at taking a few shots and it's the little bird in the middle of the photo. On its left is a wigeon and a coot to the right.

Because it was hard to get a good photo of it I've linked here a couple of little videos that Roger Parrish took  and put on Youtube, I think Roger was one of the guys in the hide today as he mentioned a Youtube video he'd loaded up.

So a few facts about this rare visitor:

  •  On the BTO site say there are only about 5 sightings a year of this bird which generally lives and breeds in North America.
  • They are around 50cm long, have a wingspan of 82cm and weigh around 770g
  • Its numbers are fairly stable and it is not a species of concern
  • They used to be called a 'Baldpate' as some people thought their white head stripe looks like a man's bald head! (I shall have to start calling my dad baldpate - person with a bald head lol ;-)
  • It eats mainly aquatic plants and grasses but will eat insects and molluscs in the breeding season.
  • I read that they will steal food from Coots so I guess they are quite a brave bird!
  • They tend to overwinter in Central America and the south of North America. You can see this on the map on the bird life link below.

Well, here's a few links if you want to find out a little more about these lovely birds.

Hope you enjoyed,