Monday, 17 April 2017

Garganey and Little Gull at Elton Reservoir

A quick look on our L.O.S. Facebook group today showed me that Martin Loftus had seen a drake Garganey on a flooded field near the canal at Elton Reservoir in Bury yesterday. There was also a Little Gull reported on the main reservoir, so with two good target birds in mind today, I set off at the crack of 11:30am.  Graeme Robertson had also been later and suggested that Withins Lane was the best place to park, and so that's where I aimed the SatNav at.

It took me about 30 minutes to get there, and ten minutes later I'd crossed over Bury Road and the railway track, turned left at the canal and was heading down the towpath towards the floods.  Half way along I met Graeme who had returned today for another look, and he put me straight on to this lovely little duck.

The bird was closer today than when Martin had seen it yesterday and so we had really good views but the light was a bit dull for photographs most of the time, only occasionally brightening up. Much of the time it was feeding with a dabbling motion so it was hard to get a shot with its head out for the water.

Even ducks as beautiful as this can be a little dull to photograph at times, so it's nice when they have a wing flap or do something different.

Graeme left to have another look for the Little Gull and I was soon joined by Dennis Atherton with whom I had a really good chat.  We spent a little time wondering if we could get down to water level for a better shot, but the ethics of getting closer and the steep drop covered in brambles made us decide against it.

The Garganey is a rare summer visitor to the UK from Africa, one of the few migrant ducks that we see here in the summer. There was also a Common Sandpiper bobbing and flitting around the same pool.

After this Den and walked along the canal towpath up the pump house on the side of the main reservoir to look for the Little Gull.  There was no wind and all the gulls were on the water picking flies up of the surface, but Den soon picked out the Little Gull by it's pinkish breast feathers and much darker head.

Back to front comparison shot showing the main diagnostic features:

Back: Light grey wings with rounded tips and white trailing edges and a pure white tail,
Front: Pinkish breast and much darker underwing. No sign of the red feet on this one though.

Look, it does have bright red feet!

This is a Gull which think's it's a Tern with its constantly dipping flight low over the water. Going in for the kill on a small unsuspecting fly.

I popped in to see the Garganey again on the way back to the car but he was asleep.

So another good birding session with great company. And Elton certainly has been delivering the birds again recently.

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