Sunday 27 December 2009

Post-christmas birding: Aythyas and Ansers

I've been spending a very enjoyable and quiet Christmas up in Norfolk with the family... Suzanne found the lure of a four-year-old niece stronger than that of a nearly-year-old husband! With the snow dwindling fast, there's been no problem getting out birding; as is typical for the time of year, geese and ducks predominate.

Yesterday's trip up to the north coast produced excellent views of the Snow Goose again, just off the coast road towards Choseley. For a change, it was the closest bird to the road... but compensating for this helpful positioning, spent 99% of its time asleep! A few photos were grabbed when it briefly stirred, of which this is the best.

Today I've been around Broadland, starting with the drake Ferruginous Duck at Barton Broad. It showed very well from the boardwalk at the southern end, with about 15 Pochard, some Tufties and a few Goldeneye. Generally holding its tail flat to the water, the white undertail was rarely visible, but the characteristic ski-slope head and bill profile, and pearly white iris were pretty obvious.

Next stop was Wroxham Broad, looking for the returning female Ring-necked Duck, and for yesterday's Velvet Scoter. The scoter is probably a rarer bird inland, but had apparently done a bunk, and after 90 minutes searching, it seemed that the Ring-necked may have done the same. However, a welcome phonecall from Tim brought us back to the site to see the bird showing pretty well near two wooden chairs on a small pontoon. Another distinctive Aythya headshape noted (peak very much to the rear of the crown), together with a banded bill, face pattern with eyering, and prominent sticky-out tail. Another spot of dodgy digi-scoping illustrates...

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