A duck in the wrong place

Today was another travel day – this time from Church Stretton to Malvern College, where I’ll be working tomorrow before heading home. It was another good day – to me it seemed like the warmest day of the year so far. A short walk at a local nature reserver near Church Stretton in the morning produced a few woodland species, perhaps the nicest being good views of a nuthatch. After lunch with my Mum and her partner I left for Malvern via another reservoir where there had been reports of a common scoter.

This visit highlighted the issues sometimes encountered with places one has not been to before: The sat-nav took me to the main entrance of the reservoir, but that was private member’s only access for a sailing and fishing club. So I headed back round to a track I had seen at the other end of the reservoir, parked by the road and walked along to where the track intersected the end of the reservoir: No public access there either but I could see nearly the whole reservoir – and that’s what telescopes are for! Perhaps there’s better access somewhere else that the local birders know about….or perhaps they join the sailing club so that they can get in that way!

This cheery fellow was an unexpected encounter on the track I took to the reservoir!

There were very few birds on the water and so I quickly located the female common scoter. And this brings up an interesting point: I only went to this location because the scoter had been reported (fairly unusual inland as they are a sea duck!), and I had checked out the field guide to remind me of the identifying features – so once there it was very clear that the bird, though distant, was indeed a female common scoter. But had I not known it was there, and had I seen the bird at that distance, I would undoubtedly have dismissed it as a “female duck of some sort”. This shows a lack of skill on my part, and brings into question whether or not I should then add this bird to my list! But actually it was an absolutely clear identification and by going to see it I had checked the guide and therefore learned more about the species, and in future I will be more careful when scanning through somewhat drab ducks on a reservoir! So overall it was a win and I’m happy to add this somewhat out of place duck to my 2023 list.

In the evening I arrived at Great Malvern and had a meal with my friend Mark Fawcett (whose birthday it was) in a local pub with a rather spectacular view.

New species for April 7th:
Birds: common scoter