Friday 17 June 2016

The LONG-TAILED DUCK at Alvecote Pools, Warwickshire.

Long-tailed Duck (female) by Adam Archer.

As I was driving home from work yesterday I noticed an intriguing bird related message pop up on my Twitter feed. The infamous Alvecote Pools stalwart Roy Smith had found a female Long-tailed Duck on my local patch. After brief detour home to pick up my gear, I was soon perched on the north side of Mill Pool along with Warwickshire birding veterans Steve Haynes and Bob Duckhouse who were already watching the scarce sea duck. Admittedly she was a bit of a scruff bag, rather distant and all bleached out in the strong sunlight, but she became a fantastic new addition to my patch list and only the fourth site record in 82 years. With the pollen count extremely high and a moody, teenage daughter to feed I did not hang around for too long though.

Luckily our special visitor did the decent thing and decided to hang around for another day. On my second visit this evening I decided to approach from the village side of Mill Pool for enhanced views. The bird was pretty obliging as she dived and resurfaced in the slightly deeper channel along the southeast side of this very shallow pool. It was from this position where I managed to secure a few record shots.  

Long-tailed Duck (female) by Adam Archer.

The Long-tailed Duck is a scarce visitor to the West Midlands region and mainly turns up during the cold autumn and winter months where it can often linger for an extended stay. Sightings away from the main large deep water reservoirs such as Draycote Water, Chasewater, Belvide and Blithfield are far less common. It is therefore not too surprising that the species is extremely rare at Alvecote Pools, a series of shallow subsidence pools left over from the old coal mining days.

After thumbing through my historic collection of West Midland Bird Club reports from 1934 onwards, I have managed to uncover the following records for Alvecote, in addition to the most recent sighting:

1953 - Warwickshire - female - 20th December only.
1969 - Warwickshire - male in summer plumage - 28th June to 13th July (The first summer record for the region).
1983 - Warwickshire - 4 x birds part of a large scale nationwide movement - 13th November only.
2016 - Warwickshire - female - 16th June to 17th June.

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