Not much to report over the last few days and certainly no Hen Harrier! The Harris hawk is however still loafing around the Markfield inflow. New species to add to the Thornton year list have included Nuthatch, Woodcock and a small passage of Skylarks going north on Sunday. The wonderful mild weather on Sunday had the Mallard displaying. They might get a shock on wednesday if the snow returns.
There are now only two small areas of open water on the res. Today there was a very sad looking group of Coot hunkered down on the ice. The Wigeon have taken to grazing on the bank and are quite confiding. New birds today included a Peregrine and a Jack Snipe, that flew up from the out flow. Eight Teal were in the area of open water in the company of Gadwall, Tufted and Pochard, but no sign of the juv. Scaup. The BTO Blog has some great photos of a badminton playing owl! Its worth a look.
I managed to get good views of the hybrid Tufty on Sunday and it seems to be a classic male Tufty x female Pochard. The vermiculation is indistinct, and appears plain grey and I even managed to notice purple gloss, (it says violet on page 379 of Collins) on the head. Never mind, but at least I was able to console myself with 3 more site year ticks in the form of 1 Yellowhammer, a Goldeneye and a fly over group of 4 Ravens.
I managed to film the hybrid Tufty x Pochard today.(2/1/2010) There were certain features that made me get quite excited ,but then there were also features that had the opposite affect. The shape of the crown and the mantle resembled Lesser Scaup, but the bill tip had too much black, although not as much as the illustration of the hybrid on page 59 of Collins. The bird flew off before I was able to scope the mantle to judge the vermiculation. As it took off my film shows a clear white wing bar on the secondaries ,but it is not obvious how far this extends. I did not notice any gloss on the head. The bird flew off at about 10.30 and could not be relocated in the afternoon. My conclusion is that it is probably a hybrid, but would be easy to confuse as a Lesser Scaup.
The annual Big Day birding around Thornton produced a very respectable 62 species. Best birds were a Water Rail again by the fishing lodge and the dependable juv. Scaup. Although not included on the list the Harris hawk is still frequenting the top end of the res. Most interesting however, is the Tufted x Pochard hybrid ,or is it a male Lesser Scaup!