Saturday 24 May 2014

Garganey at Middleton Lakes RSPB

A view of North Pit at Middleton Lakes RSPB.
Photo by Adam Archer

'Nice weather for ducks', as the saying goes. After studying the weather forecast I thought it wise to head off to Drayton Bassett early before the worst of the rain hit. The plan was to have a thorough scan of Jubilee Wetlands and then take shelter in the hide before the predicted downpour. 

At the Canal Screen there were a number of Ringed Plover and Little Ringed Plover utilising the scrape there that tends to remain flood free during wet weather. Elsewhere on Jubilee Wetlands though it was a different story with just the odd plover, 2 Shelduck and 6 Shoveler. From the River Screen my attention was drawn to a small duck that was fast asleep on the far side. Following a quick head shake from the bird in the light rain, my initial suspicions were confirmed, it was a female type Garganey. Unfortunately the bird remained both asleep and obscured so sexing it with any confidence was difficult.

As I searched through the swifts, martins and swallows I then heard the distinctive dry, rattling display call of a drake Garganey. I assume it had flown in from elsewhere around the reserve unless it had been hiding asleep amongst the vegetation. It promptly swam over towards the other Garganey but failed in its quest to impress her (or him). Looking pretty disappointed with itself it too tucked its head under its wing and decided to have a nap.     

Garganey (summer plumaged male) - Middleton Lakes RSPB
Photo by Adam Archer

As the rain became heavier I took a brisk stroll around to 'The Lookout' to dry off. As with Jubilee Wetlands, the water levels on North Pit were quite high and still rising during the few hours I was there. Unfortunately there was not a lot to see however a single Sanderling flew around for a while but soon continued its migration northwards. Other species included 2 Shelduck, a pair of Oystercatcher, a few more Little Ringed Plover and unfortunately a drake Teal with an injured right wing.

Talking of injured wildfowl I was concerned to see a couple of scumbags with guns make a brief appearance in the corner of North Pit near the reserve border. One of them had binoculars, looked straight at me as I sat in the hide and made a sharp exit. I had heard shots earlier but had assumed it was just from the gun club over the other side of the river at Dosthill. Maybe they thought that because of the adverse weather conditions there would be no birders out and about. I reported the matter to the reserve warden who in turn got in touch with the police. Hopefully that will be the last we see of them on site.

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