Saturday 5 November 2011

Patch Tick!

Quick health warning that this post contains some horrendous images taken in horrendous light conditions.

Tiring week, this week. The shock of full time employment was evidently too much for me following three years of not really doing alot at university. Anyway, I woke up this morning about 8 feeling a bit shell-shocked, and was mildly disappointed to see that it was pretty foggy outside. Great - a morning's birding ruined.

Long story short, things started to clear up yet it was still pretty misty on my arrival at my favourite place in most of the world, Dogsthorpe Tip. The poor visibility was making gull-watching pretty difficult, but it did mean that the birds were mostly cotching on and around the pit, giving good views when the weather cleared. Although there were plenty of birds present, alot were sat out of view behind the crest of the 'hill' of ex-rubbish and finding anything interesting was proving difficult. The best I could do were the two creatures below:

Adult Yellow-legged Gull - a decent winter bird here.

First-winter Med

I also had a black darvic-ringed 1st-winter GBB Gull with the inscription 'JP070'. Which reminds me - the yellow-ringed 1st-winter Herring Gull I had earlier this week had actually been ringed the previous week at Blackborough End Tip (Norfolk). Interesting to get proof that gulls commute between Peterborough and there, but not quite the Polish-type I had hoped for.

As the morning wore on, the gulls started to misbehave a bit more, getting restless as there was no tipping activity occurring. By just after 11:00, they started to disperse and so I headed off home via Deeping Highbank, where these four adult Whooper Swans were chilling out in a field by the River Welland towards Spalding:

After heading home for some lunch and a chill out, I headed back down the patch to see if anything was lurking on the pits. These cold, calm and misty mornings traditionally produce decent birds in the Peterborough area; I've had Long-tailed Duck and White-fronted Geese amongst other bits on days like this previously. A check of the old wader scrape revealed plenty of birds, but nothing out of the ordinary, although a Dunlin was flying around calling in the poor visibility. It might sound weird, but waders such as Dunlin are usually a good indicator that some kind of displacement has gone on here in winter; indeed on 'Long-tailed Duck day' I saw Dunlin, Sanderling, Grey Plover and Curlew locally. So, with renewed vigour, I decided a more complete check than usual was necessary.

Our old friend Pochard 'H'. I originally thought it was an 'N' but better views today confirmed otherwise.

A female Pintail was nice on North Pit with a decent selection of dabbling ducks, as were a few redpolls and Siskins. However, that one bit of real quality was still lacking as I headed towards the northwest pools to check the slurry pits here for any odd waders. What I wasn't expecting here was to pick up on a young drake Red-breasted Merganser, just sort of floating about and looking a bit knackered on one of the small pools. After what must be about six or seven years since Mike Weedon gripped me off with a short-staying party of three at BLGP whilst I was in Norfolk, it was great to finally nail this to my patch list. And this is what it looked like, in the dank conditions:

Mike even managed to get over from the Nene Washes and successfully twitch it for his PBC year list, just as dusk was approaching.

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