Sunday, 12 February 2017

Post 457 - Great Garden views of Wonderful Waxwings and a probable Ring Necked Duck!

What are those up there?
Hey everyone today's Post 457 and a bit of a mixed post today. It's been a busy time for us so we haven't been out and about as much of late, which is probably as well as the weather hasn't been great! Well this weekend we've managed to get out for a couple of nice walks. Yesterday, as we were on our way out to go for a walk, Dad spotted some quite big birds in the a tree opposite our garden, we thought we knew what they were but we got some binoculars to check and yes, they turned out to be Waxwings! So that's another bird for our garden list, and probably the rarest so far. It was nice to see them and to get on the garden list as I saw a flock of birds when doing the big garden bird watch that were probably Waxwings but they didn't stop and were too quick and far away to be sure.One day I will see these birds on a sunny day and get some better shots!

Today we went on a short trip to Nosterfield, a Crane had been spotted near my town so we went on a route that took in the fields where it had been seen but, sadly, with no luck. We'd heard reports of a different bird though, which was another lifer. The Ring Necked Duck!

We didn't really go just for this, we stopped by Nosterfield Nature Reserve for a walk and just in case we could see it.  We started off with our usual walk around the reserve and the nearby henge. It's a lovely place. The call of Curlews and Lapwing are the main things I hear at the reserve. We also saw masses of Wigeon and quite a few Osystercatchers. A lovely Grey Heron came in but didn't settle and it was nice to watch it with its big slow wingbeats fly right across our view and off to a neighbouring lake. No Ring Necked Duck though.

The forest floor is coming to life again!
Dogs Mercury almost in flower
After the reserve is a henge we like to walk around as it's covered with trees. It must have been for quite a while as it's got plants like Dogs Mercury growing in it. This is now starting to grow again and have its turn in the sun before the trees get going again, it won't be long before this is flowering. The Snowdrops are out though and it was nice to see them today. The main sounds to hear in the wood were the calls of a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a few Great Tits and Blue Tits.

After we'd done that we got back to the car and drove to Lingham Lake, which is next to the working quarry. We wondered if the Ring Necked Duck would be there. Well it turned up almost immediately! Well, at least we think it was but both it was quite far away and a struggle to see clearly even with binoculars so sorry the photo is pretty ropey.
But the snowdrops are out in force - beautiful flowers!

This bird had no cheek patches, no tuft and the plumage patterns looked quite good for the Ring Necked Duck. Sadly it wasn't close enough to make out its bill, not helped by the fact it was diving of course!  Well only being about 80-90% certain I'm not sure if I can put this on my list but anyway I thought it was worth learning more about these birds so here are some facts:
  • Seeing as these aren't native to the UK, just a rare vagrant, it was hard to find many facts on them, so sorry again if there isn't as many as usual.
  • As I have just said, the Ring Necked Duck is not native to the UK, and is a visitor sometimes seen resting here in England.
  • They breed and usually live in North America, spending the hotter parts of the year in Canada and going South in the Winter months.
  • They are easily confused with the Tufted Duck and Goldeneye, with mostly the same patterns all along its body. 
The best shot I could get with my camera :-(
(but it was a very grey day !)
  • The way to tell the Male apart is to luck at its cheek, it doesn't have a white patch, and it also doesn't have a tuft on its head, and you can easily tell the Female from other birds.
  • They are omnivorous and so will eat Worms, Leeches, Snails and plant matter such as pondweed.
  • They find all this by either diving or dabbling. We found that they preferred to dive making them very hard to spot!
  • When the Female is laying her eggs, she will actually lay one a day until there are about 8 - 10 ready to be incubated.
  • They are then incubated for just less than a month, and the mother will stay with them until they are able to fly.
Half term is coming soon though, I'm looking forward to having a few more days out, I'll be sure to let you know what I see!

Hope you enjoyed,


1 comment:

  1. Love the shot of the waxwings Zach, and those snowdrops too, lovely! - Tasha