Sunday, 28 November 2010

Out for a duck

Female Ferruginous Duck at Burgess Park, Camberwell. Note the head
and bill profile, uniform breast/flanks and (below) hint of white undertail.

Today was a catch-up day at home with the family, with an Indian lunch prepared perfectly by 14-year-old Ed, who shows much promise with the spice rack. But with impeccable timing, a text from John Archer necessitated a change of plans for the afternoon - there was a Ferruginous Duck in Camberwell, south London, an excellent find by Rich Bonser on one of his urban patches. What's more, it's the first to appear in the capital since I started a London year-list in earnest ...

Before long I was taking a hasty trip down Memory Lane, as the lake the bird was on in Burgess Park was within a stone's throw of the Thomas a'Beckett, the Old Kent Road pub where I spent many a youthful evening some 30 years ago watching (and ultimately working for) R&B band Nine Below Zero.

The light was fading when I got there, but the bird was a done deal as I parked up, swimming among Coots close to the edge of the lake and only a few metres away from its admirers. In the circumstances the 'noisy' images here aren't the best, but they show the key features of the species.

What you can't see here, but which I saw in flight as the bird took off and circled twice around the lake before landing again, was a full set of flight feathers and a pure white, broad and striking wing-bar extending almost the entire length of the wing to all but the outermost two or three primaries. The bird even called several times, a quiet, rasping croak, and though confiding was no more 'tame' than nearby Tufted Ducks and Mallards. It's interesting that it has appeared on the same day as the first Smew has returned to the London Area, and with many lakes and ponds icing over perhaps it will herald the start of an influx of interesting wildfowl.

Assuming the Ferruginous Duck does nothing to disgrace itself in the meantime (it is apparently also unringed), it's a welcome and unexpected year-tick:

London year-list update:
205. Ferruginous Duck.

Also noteworthy in Burgess Park was the regular wintering adult Mediterranean Gull, originally also found by Rich and back for another season.

The regular adult Med Gull (swimming) is back for another winter.

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