Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Local Mega - RING_NECKED DUCK on Wilstone


It's a long drive between Cley NWT Reserve and Wilstone Reservoir but when David Bilcock texted me at 0645 hours to say that he and Roy Hargreaves had just discovered a female RING-NECKED DUCK in front of the Drayton Hide at Tring, that's just what I had to do. Anyway, the male Great Snipe was not performing anyway......


I eventually made it to Wilstone Reservoir at 1057 hours and was very pleased to find the female RING-NECKED DUCK still showing - only the third-ever record at the reservoirs following a drake in the area from 2-30 April 1977 and a female at Wilstone from 8-13 November 1998. It was consorting with 3 of 58 Tufted Ducks present on Wilstone and was showing well moving back and forth along the central Drayton Bank (where it was visible from both the North Bank and the Drayton Hide).

Ironically, just two days previous, I had been asked to check out a drake Ring-necked Duck at Dunstable Sewage Farm. As it turned out, this bird was a hybrid Ring-necked Duck x Tufted Duck (see Lol Carman's photographs above). This Wilstone individual was the 'real deal' - with a high and rounded crown, typical long tail, long pointed bill and a spectacled face pattern. The bird overall was rather greyish-brown, with a predominantly grey bill and an extensive black nail. There was a hint of a pale subterminal band but it was not obvious. Furthermore, the grey flanks were clear but not the vertical whitish fore-flank line that you often get with adult female Ring-necked Ducks. Customary was the brown breast and neck collar, the striking white eye-ring forming a spectacled effect with the rear extension of the curving white eye-stripe. At the bill-base was a very prominent pale facial patch, with a white throat and a relatively dark iris. In all respects, it appeared to be a first-winter female. Size-wise, it was perhaps just a tad slimmer than the accompanying Tufted Ducks but was very similar overall.

Although I could not find the drake Eurasian Wigeon today, in addition to the 58 Tufted Ducks were 11 Northern Pochards (1 drake) and 12 Gadwalls.

Great Crested Grebes had their first young, with one pair nursing a single youngster and another mother carrying two stripy young on her back.

Otherwise, 1 HOBBY was hawking insects over the hide and Common Swifts numbered in excess of 540.


After the excitement of the weekend with 6 species of wader present back to normality. The 7 Mute Swans remained but virtually nothing else - and still no sign of a Little Grebe (the site hosted four breeding pairs in 2010). Nearby, 18 Barn Swallows were flying up and down the lane.

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