Sunday, 13 April 2014

Ring-necked Duck at Abberton gives us the run around!

With time limited today, we decided to head for Abberton and search for the drake Ring-necked Duck that was reported on Saturday.
The last report yesterday was Ring-necked Duck "drake still at Northwest end of Layer Breton Causeway late afternoon but mobile with 6 Pochards".
Feeling much more optimistic about this bird sticking around overnight than the 2 Black-winged Stilts from Friday, it was still a relief when having travelled 30 of the 50 miles the pager announced that the duck was still present.
This early report had the bird viewed from East of Layer-de-la-Haye Causeway. On arrival, we drove passed the reserve centre and onto Layer-de-la-Haye causeway. To find no cars and no birders present here.
Thinking the bird maybe have been posted on the wrong causeway we continued round to Layer Breton Causeway where several birders were already scanning the area.
After scoping both sides of the road there was no sign of the target bird, or for that matter any Pochards. A chat with one of the local birders see's us back in the car and driving back round to Layer-de-la-Haye Causeway.
We then meet the birder who had put the news out this morning. He tells us he saw the bird from here first thing still with the Pochards, but the Pochards had disappeared and with it the Ring-necked.
He told us "find the Pochards and you will find the Ring-necked"
A scan of this area failed to locate any Pochards, so back to the car and a short drive along the road. Turning into School Lane to scan the Eastern side from the passing bay.
From this location, the area was a little easier to scan, with the sun now hitting the waterside on rather than directly into our eyes.
Plenty of Tufted Ducks present here along with Shelduck and Wigeon,  But after another thirty minutes of scanning, there's still no sign of the target bird. For a bird that was reported as present at 7.30, There had been no sign since and it was now 10.30.
Returning to the causeway we were met by the local birder who told us that the bird had been re-found at Hide Bay.
Again back to the car, and a drive round to the reserve car park. After paying a donation to enter, we set off along the pathway towards the bay.
Reaching the bend in the path, two birders have their scopes trained on a distant group of ducks. A quick scan and the group of Pochard are found. Seconds later the Ring-necked Duck pops back up to the surface!
Time to relax and enjoy the bird, Although too distant for any photos it gave good scope views and eventually stopped the constant diving and started preening on the narrow strip of vegetation.
A Common Tern appeared low over the water and then landed on a buoy for another year tick and a third tick was added when a Swallow was spotted perched up on a telegraph wire.

A very productive weekend, which started with the 2 Black-winged Stilts at Bower's Marsh on Friday, A Hoopoe at Stodland in Kent on Saturday and ends with a Ring-necked Duck today.

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