North Shropshire Meres - 8 Jan 17

This afternoon Sue and I took a tour of the North Shropshire Meres – Ellesmere; Whitemere; Wood Lane; and Colemere. There were reports of Long-tailed Ducks at Whitemere – I had never been there; a Mandarin Duck at Ellesmere; also Scaup. We got lucky with some of these as we will see. What surprised me was to see Goldeneye at all the meres; a Goosanders as well. Shelduck and a calling Curlew at Wood Lane added to a good day out. The fog that hampered things at Priorslee was not a problem until the way home

The Great Black-backed Gull at Ellesmere was the first of a number of new birds for me in 2017 on a visit to several of the meres. Note the size of the bill and ...

... here the lack of any contrast between the tone on the upper wing and the wing-tip.

Also at Ellesmere the Black-headed Gulls are used to hand-outs and quite tame: this adult shows its webbed feet.

In the front we see a first winter Black-headed Gull: note the difference in feet colour between it and the adult’s feet just visible behind.

Somewhat surprising was this duck Goosander that came to mix it with the rather strange feral ducks and geese and gave this close view.

Just as it is about to take off we see the white ‘arm-pits’ as well as more of the white in the wing.

Then on to Whitemere where there were several drake Goldeneye. Here is a smart drake.

And a drake and duck.

Here the left-hand drake is doing the ‘jerking its head back’ display movement. Not too easy to see here as the birds were paddling away.

The real target was the reported Long-tailed Ducks: here is a rather poor record shot of a very distant drake.

Last port of call was Colemere: having failed to find a reported (Greater) Scaup at Whitemere it was a pleasure to find these three. From the left an adult drake; a first-winter drake; a first-winter duck.

Here is the adult drake on his own.

This is the first-winter drake showing some vermiculations on its back.

Here is the duck in the foreground: there is rather less white around the base of the bill than I would have expected – I have seen Tufted Ducks with as much or more – but note the head shape and complete absence of any ‘tuft’. A duck Tufted Duck would also show a pale band towards the tip of the bill. The relative lack of ‘white face’ indicates a first-winter duck [the first-winter drake behind].
(Ed Wilson)