Monday, 3 December 2012

The Amwell Scaup is Growing Up

The 1st winter male Scaup was found by Barry Reed on the 21st October and is still present, a total of 6 weeks. When I last photographed it on the 2nd November it still had a totally brown head, and just the first signs of grey on the mantle. Today, I thought I would check on its progress.

At the viewpoint Water Rails were still being seen on a fairly regular basis, but just running across the various cuts rather than feeding in the open. The newly dug ditches were frozen today after the hard overnight frosts, but this does have its advantages, as birds such as Snipe will stand out on the ice wheras they would normally seek cover in the reedy margins.

Otherwise fairly quiet apart from a handful of Moorhens and Pheasants feeding on the seed in the newly-cut ride. I always vowed that I would never stoop so low to photograph pheasants, but when you see them up close with their stunning colours illuminated by the sun, they are just irresistible.

So now onto Tumbling Bay to have a look at the progress of the Scaup. It was easy to find in its usual place just past the lock, but I chose to walk along the towpath a little further to get a closer shot. It wasn't very cooperative, hugging the opposite bank and diving continuously for long periods, although I did eventually manage to get a couple of shots.

What a difference those four weeks make. The brown head is now turning green and the mantle has a much more extensive patch of silvery-grey. Overall it is looking much more like a Scaup rather than a stocky round-headed female Tufted Duck.

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