Seeing that unexpected migrant Redwing, literally drop out of the sky on Thursday, I was keen to get out there and do some proper birding wherever it may be.. The main task for today was to try and reach the 250 mark for my yearlist, but after a worthy attempt, it wasn't quite reached. It would have been rather good to get 250 on the 1st October but it just wasn't going to happen.
Luckily I had a 4-day weekend with Thursday and Friday off, so after much debate on the thursday night, myself and Alex decided to do a bit of long-distance twitching for a change. Spending the day getting sorted for lectures on Monday, a short train journey to Rhyl, a few hours sleep at Alex's house and we were up at silly o'clock on the Friday morning.
First stop was Draycote water in Warwickshire for an eclipse Lesser Scaup, which after a few mintues of searching, it appeared mixed in with a group of Tufted ducks, some 20ft from the nearby banking.. This was a British lifer aswell as a yeartick for Alex but not for me - still a nice bird to see and my 2nd this year. It was rather disheartening to find that the gates to the reserve didn't open until 8am but we only had a half-hour wait which wasn't too disastrous! Nearly slipping onto my arse on a wet grass bank was..
This is the Drake Lesse Scaup I digiscoped using my Nikon Coolpix P5100, at Penarth back in late March this year. The eclipse drake we saw was similiar to this, but in eclipse plumage so slightly duller markings on the back, but you get the idea. I was able to take a few shots of the eclipse bird, however it was raining, light conditions were awful and plainly speaking, they were shit pictures so included this for reference.
Next stop was going to be Dowdeswell Reservoir for a Wilson's Phalarope which Alex needed for his British list and a yeartick, but unfortunately there was no sign of it this morning, having been present for the last couple of days. More than likely it would have moved off last night before the heavy rain set in!
Dissapointed with this, we made the mad decision to travel down to Chew Valley Lake in Somerset in search of a Ferruginous duck which we both needed for the year as well as being a British tick for Alex. On arrival, the rain was pelting down as it had been all day, at times extremely heavy! Luckily, we had a window of about 30 minutes when the rain had stopped, enabling me to pin down one of the Fudge ducks mixed in with hudreds of Tufted ducks and Pochards.
This is the view we were greeted with. The Ferruginous duck is more or less slap bang in the middle of the picture, slightly on it's own. This was also in eclipse plumage so I have included a picture of an adult that I digiscoped back in Catalonia/Spain this april. Alex then picked me out another yeartick nearby on another lake in Somerset, that I can't really name.. A clue for you:- 'Stiff-tailed duck' and that's all on the matter...
Getting on for 3pm in the afternoon now, the rain had been pelting down since leaving Rhyl, 2 British lifers for Alex and 2 much needed and welcomed yearticks for myself, we headed back to North wales. An extremely long day, more than 500 miles covered just for a few ducks. We managed to get back to Rhyl for around 8pm that night; then I had to catch a train back to Bangor, grabbed a 12'' Margherita pizza and collapsed into bed just before midnight..
My life since university has been so damn busy, with 6 hours sleep, I was up again the next morning bright and early!
To see another account of this journey, see Alex's new blog @ http://birdingnorthwales.blogspot.com/