Monday 31st Jan 2011 - Slimbridge WWT

Today, myself and TS went for an away day to Slimbridge WWT in Gloucestershire. The target bird was the female Lesser Scaup that has been there for knocking on two weeks now. Lesser Scaup is an North American diving duck and fairly rare vagrant to the UK. This bird is a lifer for me and although I'm not really an obsessive list chaser (although I do know a few), I thought It would be a good opportunity to see the bird and combine it with a days birding somewhere different.

Shortly after arriving at Slimbridge and paying the extortionate entry fees (I really must stop moaning...its a sign I'm getting older...a few more years and I will be a right curmudgeonly old so and so) we headed to the Rushy. The Lesser Scaup had been spending its time, along with 2♂ Greater Scaup (its more common European cousin) between this location and the South Lake. After a few minutes scanning I managed to pick up the ♀ Lesser Scaup - result!. Ive included a few photos showing the bird next to some Tufted Ducks. You can see the difference in colouration and the difference in head shape. I do apologize for the quality of the photos though - taking them from behind glass of a bird over a certain distance isn't the best.

Also seen during the day of note were 200+ Bewicks Swans, 300+ White-fronted Geese, c.150 Barnacle Geese, 1 Pinkfooted Goose, 100+ Dunlin, 2 Common Snipe, a Great Black-backed Gull and a ♂ Siskin. Large numbers of Wigeon and Teal were present but Pintail numbers seemed much lower than on my last visit in December. Other duck species seen included Shelduck, Shoveller, Gadwall and Pochard. Believe it or not, even with much scanning, we didn't connect with the ♂ Greater Scaup...ah well.

Lesser Scaup (leftmost bird) with Tufted Ducks:

Lesser Scaup with Tufted Ducks (middle bird):

Lesser Scaup - 31 st January 2011:

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