07 March 2010

It at first you don't succeed!

This entry refers to both the 6th (Saturday) and 7th (Sunday) of March. I was going to visit New Fancy, and then Frampton, for Goshawks and the Ring-necked Duck respectively. I blew them off (the RND for the third time, I think!) to bag a duck I was desperate to see. Friday evenings trawl of local birding websites revealed a number of Smew sightings at Cotswold Water Park (West). I'd never seen a Smew, and had contrived to dip them on countless occasions when others had (it felt like) wandered right into their paths.

I also hoped to see the male Scaup on pit 37.

fyi, I don't tend to recall bird numbers (I take more pleasure in watching than counting) - and other than in 'good / great bird' circumstances the pit numbers don't get noted. But for the record... I scoured pits 28, 28a, 29, 30, 35 and 37. Good access to these pits - unlike some others.

On the water I came across Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Shelduck (very few), Shoveler, Pochard, Red-crested Pochard (about 20 in total), Goosander (only three on 37), Mallard, Goldeneye (at least 30 across my visit - best views I've ever had), Mute Swan, Cormorant, Coot ('millions' of them), Little Grebe (only one) and Wigeon. A good number of Canada Geese, too.

As I walked I also encountered:

One Raven
Blue Tits / Great Tits / Long-tailed Tits
Robins / Chaffinchs / Dunnocks / Blackbirds
Goldfinches / Greenfinches
Reed Buntings
Grey Heron / Little Egret
Two Buzzards
Black-headed Gulls / Herring Gulls / Common Gulls / Lesser Black-backed Gulls / Greater Black-backed Gulls
Green Woodpecker / Great Spotted Woodpecker
Pied and White Wagtails / two Green Sandpipers / Linnets (all on the way to Shorncote)

At the end of Saturday I tried pits 12 and 74 (the Gull pre-roost sites) for the Mediterranean Gull but failed to spot it.

So I went home without having (SOMEHOW!) seen a Smew. As I inspected the Gulls I commented upon this to some other birders who couldn't quite believe it. Alas, I had just been very unlucky.

When I returned home in the dark I was annoyed to note that the Smew and the Scaup had been there - as the CWP Birding Blog had records of them for the day. So I resolved to get up early on Sunday and try again. DESPERATE, I was... to see a Smew.

My luck turned on Sunday. I rolled up at pit 74 shortly after 9am - great weather - and after a quick scan (taking in more and more Goldeneye) I came across my quarry. One drake and two redhead Smew. Diving for breakfast. Although someway across the lake, my scope afforded me good views. You know that feeling when you finally spot a bogey bird? Elation followed by "Great bird!"? I got that.

Honestly... such relief.

I walked the course around the same pits as yesterday - but at a greater pace as I was really heading for pit 37 for the Scaup. Along the way I clocked up Great Tits, Blue Tits, Bullfinches, Reed Buntings, Song Thrush, Gadwall, Goldeneye, Goosander (six this time), Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Wigeon, Cormorant, Robins, Blackbird and some other 'regulars' I didn't note down.

As with the Smew, my luck was much better today and all I had to do was fix my scope on a group of Tufted Ducks on the Eastern section of pit 37 to reveal the Scaup along with them. RESULT!

So a long weekend, but I did get Smew and Scaup - both lifers.

If at first you don't succeed... try again. 103 birds for the year now!

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