22 Mar 2007

Another Lifer: Two Smew

115. Smew

Peregrine,s Birding Facts A Kiwi lays the largest eggs for its size of any bird. It weighs 25% of its body weight and a female will lay upto a 100 eggs in its lifetime.

I went down to RSPB Portmore Lough after work as I was determined to see the male smew that has been wintering there. The weather was not at all good with constant drizzle. I had remembered to put my wellies in the car the night before as the last time I went there in early January it was so muddy that it completely covered my shoes. I am glad I did it was worse.

I walked down to the hide or was that swam! Well not quite.
Once inside I had a quick scan of the lough and couldnt see any smew :-( However right out in front of the hide were two Little Grebes Unfortunately the light was really bad. I did a further scan with my scope from the hide (here is a photo taken from the interior earlier in the year when the light was good) of the whole Lough and saw Mute Swan, Teal, Widgeon, Ruddy Duck, Shoveler, Mallard and finally a Male Smew and with a bit further scanning saw another so there were two. BrilliantHere is a slightly closer look of one which I took at WWT Castle Espie

I always find it quite exciting when you see a new bird for the first time in the wild but more was to come as I was looking out of the front of the hide at the grebes some thing caught my eye to the right of where I was sitting and it was an Otter swimming along the waters edge. I got my camera out to photograph it when I noticed there were two!!!
To me the otter is the pinnacle of wild animals in Britain if I had to see no other it would definately be the otter. I think this is because of reading "Ring of Bright Water" by Gavin Maxwell who incidentally went to the same school as me. I feel quite fortunate that I do see them from time to time. A couple of years ago I was walking out at Killard with pickle and thought I saw a bird struggling in the seaweed and it wasnt until I was ten feet away that Pickle flushed it into the sea. It then swam about five yards out and lay on its back and looked at us.
The other really close encounter was in Co. Donegal when Penny and I were swimming round one of the small islands in Mulroy Bay when some body shouted from the shore that there was an otter with us and blow me it was swimming right next to us. Infact it shadowed us nearly the whole way round the island. Even though the people on the shore had a camera did they think of taking a photo. NO they didnt.

1 comment:

Snail said...

What a magnificent duck. And you saw otters! Wow!

(Okay, not the most articulate comment but you get the idea that I am seriously impressed.)