Sunday, April 8, 2012
Tufted Duck, finally
Today I saw my first Tufted Duck; specifically two males, and two females. This species has been a bit of a nemesis for me. In Calgary, Alberta, where I began birding in 1986 and continued to do so regularly until 2001, I chased several reports of this accidental migrant with no luck in seeing it. In British Columbia, where I have resided in Victoria and birded throughout the province from 2001 to the present, I still have not been able to locate this casual winter visitor. Even with four visits to the U.K. between 1999 and 2009, I had still failed to see this elusive bird, although admittedly I was never there at the right season. Yesterday I arrived in England to celebrate Easter with my wife's family, and to squeeze in a bit of birding before heading to Spain next week. The first birding opportunity was the morning of Easter Sunday, the day after I arrived. There was a chance that I might suffer from jet lag, but with the best of intentions, I committed to going birding at 6:30am at Otmoor, an RSPB reserve located just north of Oxford. That plan however didn't quite work, as at 6:45am I was reluctant to crawl out from under the warm duvet. By 7:30am Joanna, Amelia and I were ready to go, and with hot cross buns in-hand (fully buttered), we made our way to Otmoor for a bit after 8:00am. Amelia made it very clear that she did not want to walk, and after a 10 minute showdown, she eventually won and ended up being carried along the muddy trails. There was lots of bird activity. In the fields there was Greylag Goose, Carrion Crow and Lapwing. In the shrubs and trees there was Eurasian Goldfinch, Great Tit and Chaffinch. In the sky there was Common Snipe, Eurasian Skylark and Red Kite. Other highlights included Blackcap, Eurasian Curlew, Eurasian Golden Plover, Common Redshank and Common Pochard. The bird of the day was Tufted Duck, followed very closely by several good looks at Reed Bunting, and a pair of Red-legged Partridge that walked across the road. In the 1.75 hours of birding we were able to afford, we tallied 37 species. Until next time, happy birding wherever you may be.