It was an odd time of year for a pair of Garganey to turn up at Rye Meads but, as they had be there for a couple of days, time to investigate. The scrape in front of the Drapers Hide was fairly quiet, as you would expect for the time of year. The resident Tufted Ducks and Pochards were still looking splendid and it was a nice surprise to see that one of the female Pochards had a brood of ducklings. Pochard do breed in the Lea Valley but nowhere near as much as the tufties.
Most of the action on the scrape came from the Common Terns which were flying to and fro the other lagoons but also indulging in a bit of bathing. This provided some opportunities for flight shots.
But now down to the business in hand.. In previous years the Garganey have normally spent much of their time asleep on one of the islands making photography difficult especially when they were in long grass. However, today they were feeding voraciously to the left of the hide, and were always in full view. Unfortunately when they feed they have their head underwater for most of the time and therefore it is necessary to wait until they come up for breath or haul out for a rest.
I suspect that this was a non-breeding pair or one that had failed, as the male was already entering eclipse plumage as can be seen by the number of brown feathers starting to appear.
The female is a particularly dull bird and can be separated from a female Teal by the pale stripes above and below the eye.