Thursday, 27 February 2020

Ice Duck

I was back in the northeast again yesterday, and in fact since I was there last week I have done very little birding other than recording the birds in my garden on a daily basis, mainly because of the weather.

It was cold yesterday, and on my drive through the Howgills, with views across to the Lakes and further on the North Pennines to the Borders, there was snow on high ground. There was a hard frost at my survey site near Berwick too, and even the sand was frozen! Cue the climate change nay sayers who stupidly confuse weather with climate, and use cold weather as their argument that climate change isn't real. That numptie Trump in the US is an exponent of this! Anyway, don't get me started...enough of climate change!

The sun rise was beautiful, and I suppose where better to watch the sun rise, but on the east coast!


I had a low water count to complete yesterday, and what is interesting about this site is the lack of species feeding in the estuary. I think this is because of the type of estuary it is, with very little mud, mainly a rocky substrate with sand. The two main wader species that I record were Redshank and Curlew, and I had 81 and 30 respectively of each.


Perhaps my best sighting of the morning was a female Long-tailed Duck, mainly because they are so scarce in the Irish Sea where I bird, but also because of the great views I had of it. I was counting a flock of Goldeneyes, 21 in total, when I saw something different surface and there it was an Ice Duck!


Ice Duck is a name given to Long-tailed Ducks in Northumberland and other local names from the around the British Isles that I like are Sharp-tailed Duck, Swallow-tailed Sheldrake and Sea Pheasant. And it is easy to see how some of these names have been derived when you think of the Ice Duck.

I had cracking scope views of the Long-tailed Duck all morning, but sadly she never came within camera range. Ah well, maybe next time!

Other than the Goldeneyes on the river I had eight Eiders and two Shags, and also a lot of Mallards that I haven't counted up yet. A couple of calling Rock Pipits, a flock of 47 Pink-footed Geese north and singing Skylarks from the dunes, and that was it. Time to head back south through the Borders where there was even more snow on the higher ground.


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