Friday, 30 October 2009

Catch the wigeon

The day started bright, calm and mild so a dash off to Holden Creek was on the cards as soon as I dropped Jenny off.

The main channel was almost birdless upon arrival though the marsh area immediately by it was teeming with American wigeon and green-winged teal.
Despite being a rather duckless creek, it certainly wasn't a total loss - a pair of Wilson's snipe were feeding on the muddy edge and a single long-billed dowitcher flew in and started to feed alongside them.
6 killdeer, and a handful of pintail and mallard were also present.

Scoping through the hundreds of American wigeon on the marsh I soon found a drake Eurasian wigeon and before long, another.
Then I picked up a bird which looked exactly like the one I saw at Buttertubs recently.
This wigeon had a dark chestnut head with no discernible crown stripe, though a dark greenish area around the eye and blotchy pink and grey flanks. Presumably a hybrid of some sort, though I'd have thought if it was a straightforward American/Eurasian wigeon cross it would have some pale area on the forehead and crown?

Taking advantage of the good morning I went round to the estuary to see what I could find over there.
From the viewing platform I could see small flocks of dunlin and black turnstone with occasional black-bellied plovers out on the estuary.
There was no sign of any harriers though a red-tailed hawk was sat on the hawthorns and a sharp-shinned hawk came through scattering panicking house finches and flickers. It also landed in the hawthorns and gave great views.
A northern shrike showed well sitting up on top of the hedgerow and, rather incongruously, a downy woodpecker was sat in a small shrub.


  1. Hi Jon, it's Ray here again. In your aldcliffe days ( remember them?) did you ever look at the industrial complex between the Quay and Willow Lane ( Thetis Road) or similar ? We are looking for Black Redstarts and a quick motor around that area impressed me greatly... some parts look right gradely for the target species! Couldn't find the advertised "SAlly's Snack Bar" though. Hope you like my title for the latest Aldcliffe post.

  2. Ray, I used to look there regularly - it's classic black redstart habitat isn't it! Unfortunately, the black redstarts themselves don't seem to know that... it's surely only a matter of time.
    As for the snack bar, it operates during weekday working hours but my own experience would suggest you shouldn't bet tempted by their fine food.