12 Dec 2007

A Milestone. My 200th Bird of the Year and it was a Lifer. Ferruginous Duck.

200. Ferruginous Duck

Peregrine's Bird Facts The Ferruginous Duck used to be called the White Eyed Pochard

I am one of those birders that will go and see a rarity in my own time.(and consequently quite often miss out) I rarely race off to see something that has been spotted unless I am a few minutes away. So I decided that as it was a reasonable looking morning to head off to Lough Corbet which is near Banbridge as there had been reports on Flightline ( Flightline is Northern Ireland's Birdline which can be found on 04428 9046 7408 to hear the latest bird news. It is a free service provided by the Northern Ireland Birdwatchers Association) of a Ferruginous Duck. A scarce migrant to the UK.
Here is the single species action plan for the Ferruginous Duck of which one of the authors is James Robinson the Conservation Manager at the RSPB in Northern Ireland. He also volunteers at the Belfast Harbour Reserve Hide with his wife on alternate sundays from myself.

Well I arrived at the Lough which has decent parking facilities due to the fact that the Lough is used by fishermen. There was at first glance about a dozen Mute Swan, lots of Coots, some Mallard, lots of Little Grebe, Pochard and Tufted Duck out on the water. There was also about a dozen House Sparrows feeding near the waters edge as well as a Pied Wagtail.

I scanned the water for the Ferruginous duck but couldn't see it. The sun had gone in at this time and it was fairly grey looking so there was little contrast.

I then noticed this Coot which had a fishing spinner caught in its left foot

It looked really uncomfortable and was hopping along and even in the water it swam in an odd way. I wasn't really sure what to do. As I thought the chances of it being caught were not that high and would probably stress it further. On looking at the bottom photograph I think it is actually beginning to work its way out. Well lets hope!

The sun finally came out and I scanned all the ducks on the lough and thank goodness spotted a deep mahogany/coppery coloured duck in the distance.SUCCESS. First of all I tried digiscoping with my nokia N95 not easy and not a very good photo so I walked round lough to get closer. It went further away and I thought I wouldnt get a shot at all. So I made my way back to car park and after about half an hour having lost site of it I noticed it about a couple of hundreds of yards away. So every time it dived I ran towards it and every time I thought it would re emerge I lay down. Then it was close enough to get a reasonable shot . Bingo my day had been made.

As I have been writing this I have had a delivery from the postman.It was calendars of birds I have photographed in the last year that I decided to get made as Christmas presents. I got them done by Photobox and I am really pleased with the result. So much so that I am about to order some more. If you are interested drop me a line. I think they will be around £14.

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