Saturday, 12 April 2014

Pied-billed Grebe at Rutland Water

I received a phone call on Wednesday afternoon from my friend Chris Orders to inform me that a pretty rare bird had been reported from Rutland Water, a 3* mega rarity in the shape of a Pied-billed Grebe, no less! This small bird is a normally found in America, although a couple can turn up over here every year, and I had yet to add it to my life list, a twitch was on the cards!

With the evenings now drawing out that little bit more I was able to finish work, get home and ready in time for Chris to pick me up and by 6.45pm we were enjoying views of this lovely little bird, quite happily swimming around the small bay close to the sailing club. Another tick!

The Pied-billed Grebe is a little larger than 'our' Little Grebe and in breeding plumage has the obvious thick, heavy, pied bill, a giveaway if seen well. In fact, so similar are these two birds that in 1993 an adult Pied-bill paired with a Little Grebe in Cornwall and hatched three young!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Baikal Teal at Fen Drayton RSPB

A very dodgy 'record' digiscoped shot of a potentially dodgy bird at the RSPB reserve of Fen Drayton lakes in Cambridgeshire. A quote from the Collins Bird Guide 2nd edition "Very rarely seen in Europe and arguably doubtful whether any record involves a genuine straggler". This, however has not stopped a number of people (including myself) making the trip along the A14 in order to get a glimpse of this bird that is normally found in Russia and East Asia.

After a 30 minute walk from the car park Lisa and myself arrived at the birds location and was soon put onto it by a fellow birder. It was rather a long way away to put it mildly and we were told that it was closer from the hide where we walked to next. On entering the hide we were greeted by a handful of birders and the bird was indeed nearer, but still at least a few hundred metres away! We settled down in anticipation of it coming a bit nearer. It didn't, hence the digiscoped shot above and this even more dodgy shot from my DSLR

The bird was seen out of the water at one point and does not appear to have any rings and there doesn't appear to be any damage to wings or other plumage that can be attributed to an escapee (this breed is very popular in wildfowl collections and often escapes). Time will tell whether it is accepted as a truly wild bird, but whatever the outcome, it is most definitely a 'cracking' example of a male duck in all its' breeding finery.