On Wednesday, while leading a group of birders Graham found a female Scaup on Black Water. Dimitri was nearby and saw it as well. Both Graham and Dimitri messaged me to tell me about the bird.
I was originally planning to visit on Saturday but with the arrival of the Scaup and the fact that the weather wasn’t great on Saturday I decided to head over to Needs Ore early Thursday morning. I met Dimitri at Shore Hide and we headed over to Black Water.
In Black Water hide I quickly picked out the Scaup. Being a night feeder it was asleep for most of the time. Larger than the Wigeon and similar sized to the Shoveler, the broad chest and large rounded head were obvious with no sign of any tuft and an obvious and extensive whitish blaze. I think it is probably a first winter female based on the browner body, reduced black nail on the bill tip and the less extensive white blaze particularly above the bill.
Scaup are some of the most maritime of all the ducks that visit us, the nearest breeding populations are Norway and Iceland. Most of the wintering birds around the UK are coastal but smaller numbers can be found on lakes and reservoirs. Ringing recoveries suggest that most of the UK wintering birds are from Iceland.
In the past we have had one or two Scaup turn up on Blackwater in the autumn and they have stayed around for several weeks or even months. There are usually around 10-20 in Hampshire in a typical winter. Most of the Shoveler on the reserve are concentrated here and so it was worth a quick count, there were at least 52, with 11 Pintail mixed in and a single male Pochard.
Migrant Hawker and Common Darter were around De L’Orne and a Clouded Yellow flitted across in front of De L’Orne hide and settled in the grass.
The 24 Cormorant on Venner Island is my largest site count.
We headed back over Warren Lane to watch the sea at Mary Monts. A confident and bulky Rock Pipit called overhead before landing on the shingle beach. After a close Razorbill on the sea on Saturday I picked out a Guillemot also resting on the sea.
Large groups of Black-headed Gulls were loitering off shore in loose fishing flocks with a handful of Common Gulls and one or two Mediterranean Gulls. Dimitri picked up two White-tailed Eagles over the Isle of Wight and both of them headed over the channel towards us and then headed towards the Black Water area.
On the way back to the car we picked up a Dartford Warbler at the Shore Hide end of the Beach Gorse, calling regularly but it didn’t show in the breezy conditions. At the Sailing Club 13 Little Egret and 14 Cormorant were engaged in a cooperative organised chase up the river edge herding and chasing fish.
The Little Egrets were high stepping along the edge of the river with occasional wing flicks while the Cormorants were swimming low and fast in the water alongside them.
Four Black-tailed Godwit were feeding on the river edge towards De L’Orne and the adult male Pied Wagtail was hanging around the Sailing Club, it’s presumably one of the two adult birds who raised two broods in the eaves here.