|Total. Utter. Mega. Yesterday's red-head Smew at Alexandra Park, north London - the first site record for 27 years.|
An anxious few moments followed when I arrived to see no bird or birder, but within a couple of minutes Henry and his mum Sarah appeared and pointed out the bird, which had just sailed into view at the west end of the lake. Stunning! A red-head, it showed perfectly at the back of the flock of wildfowl assembling as Sarah scattered some food, but kept a healthy distance and dived occasionally in search of more appropriate morsels. In more than 40 years I have never seen a Smew this well, nor ever on this patch - the last record in Alexandra Park was as long ago as 9th February 1987, making it rarer locally in recent years than the likes of Great Egret, Alpine Swift, Wryneck and Yellow-browed Warbler, the last of which have appeared more than once.
The light was fading fast so I only had time to take a handful of images at high ISO and slow shutter speeds, plus some short video clips. It was twitched after dark by park stalwarts Bob Watt, presumably by street lighting! Big thanks to Henry, who despite his youth has already demonstrated a natural talent for birdfinding and nature photography - see some of his excellent images here.
|Congratulations to local youngster Henry Wyn-Jones for locating this rarity and putting out the news so quickly.|