Having been working on Monday and a very busy day on Tuesday, today was the first chance I got to try for the Lesser Scaup on Wintersett Reservoir. I decided to go after my lecture and spend the afternoon up there as reports suggested it was far more active in the evenings than during the day.
I set off around 12 under gloomy skies and frequently changing weather. That said, it was a very pleasant afternoon. As soon as I got of the bus at Anglers CP I knew it was going to be a good day as the sky was full of Swifts and Hirundines, but especially the former. There were hundreds, flying really low over the lake.
I had a quick look in the hide hoping to pick out the resident yellow legged gull but it was not in for the time I was there. I had a quick scan but only spotted usual things and so headed off quickly to try and get the Lesser Scaup.
I picked up another birder along the way, but he said he had not seen it, though he had no scope. As a result I began to doubt that it was as a forgone conclusion as I had imagined that I would see it. I had no reason to fear, as soon as I had set up the scope I had picked out the bird on the far side of the reser with some tufted ducks. Alas, it was quite a way away so we headed round to try and get a little closer.
On the far side the view was better but the bird had moved out into the middle of the lake where it spent around half an hour fishing. The other birder thanked me and left after about 15 mins, but that was a mistake to make, as after a while longer the bird took flight and came to chill with the tufted ducks on the near side where I was viewing from. It began preening and swimming within 10 meters of my viewpoint allowing me fantastic views of the bird, clearly showing the purple sheen on the head and the peculiar head shape that distinguishes it from greater scaup.
This particular individual has more than just his Lesser Scaup features though. He has an orange tag on his bill which makes him stand out quite significantly. This tag has allowed this bird to be identified before and he has quite a history. The code on the patch is VH and he was trapped and tagged as a juvenile drake on the 20th December 2013 in Sao Jacinto Dunes NR in Portugal where he remained until the 3rd February 2014. He was next seen in Llangorse Lake in the Brecon Beacons, south Waled from the 17th October 2014 to February 2015 when he dissapeared again. The next time he turned up was 4th May 2015 when he was spotted on Wintersett Reservoir, West Yorkshire, which is where he is right now. Stories like this remind you of just how cool birds are.
-Blurred Flight shot showing half bar
After showing close for a while it then moved out into the middle of the lake again, so I headed off back to Anglers to see what was about. There was not a great deal around still but there was a Black-Necked Grebe reported so I headed for a look at that. I bumped into Mick Turton who was back home to do some things, so that was nice. He picked out the Grebe but it was very distant and hard to get a photo, but it was a super summer plumaged bird to look at. It was also a yeartick...
In the hide there had been little change in the scenery, though a Common Sandpiper dropped in, as did an Oystercatcher. There had been good numbers of Common Tern throughout the day too, and some of these were perched up on the rocks near the hide. I had a scan through for arctics but could not find any.
So that was that. Lesser Scaup is my sixth duck lifer this year alone. I can't imagine any other bird group is going to top that, especially with the views I have had from most of those lifers, pretty incredible.
Anglers CP: Black-Headed Gull, Common Tern, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Common Sandpiper, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Common Teal, Black-Necked Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, Willow Warbler, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Jackdaw, Blackcap, Blackbird, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Kestrel, Common Buzzard, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Pied Wagtail,
Wintersett Reservoir: Tufted Duck, Lesser Scaup, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, Kestrel, Common Buzzard, Common Tern, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Starling, Woodpigeon, Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe,