Monday, 5 March 2018

Well, at least it hadn't Scaupered!

For a quick trip out this afternoon, I decided to finally pay a quick visit to the long-staying female Scaup at Elton Reservoir in Bury.  All the time I was driving, I was just hoping that I'd see it and that it hadn't scarpered!

The last time I was here was when I saw the Common or Mealy Redpoll back in January, a bird which has only recently been accepted by the Greater Manchester Rarities Committee.  I had intended to pop in here on my way back from visiting the Glaucous Gull at Hollingworth Lake last month, but the weather conditions were so bad that I called it off.

Today the weather was sunny when I set off, but it became more and more cloudy as I approached the reservoir.  On arrival I met Steven Higginbottom, co-finder of the Mealy Redpoll, and I quickly asked if he had seen the Scaup - he hadn't, but he'd only had a quick look from the Creek area.  However, I marvelled at the fact that he told me he could make out some waders, probably Dunlin, on the small beach across the water at Wader Point though.

I asked him which would be the quickest way of getting down there, as at least I could get some wader shots if I couldn't find the Scaup. He suggested walking around on the path on the pump house side of the reservoir, as the one on the Creek side was very muddy, and so that's what I did.

Fortunately, when I arrived at the bay in the south-west corner of the reservoir, I spotted the Scaup which was loosely associating with a small flock of Tufted Ducks. It was quite unmistakable from the female Tufted Ducks, being slightly larger, with a large white patch at the base of its beak and a grey/brown back and sides. However, as soon as I approached the birds they spotted me too, and started moving towards the centre of the bay.

The light was all wrong on this side, so I walked round the other side of the bay only for the flock to move away again.  I spent the next two hours or so trying to get closer by walking to and fro trying to get ahead of them as well as a little closer with the light behind me.  The Scaup was always on the periphery of the group, and usually the furthest away, often preening and resting whilst always seeming to keep one eye on me.

So, due to the poor light and distance, all these shots are only really record shots, but the bird has taken my year 2018 Year List up to 124.  There were also Great Crested Grebe on the water and three Goosanders dropped in as I was leaving - I never did see any waders today though.

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