HILFIELD PARK RESERVOIR
On arriving I decided to go straight to the viewing platform, were I was shortly accompanied by two other birders. The reservoir was largely frozen over and only two areas remained ice free including a pool, bordering the reedbed on the south side and a second one in the south west corner, although the center pool had shrunk to only a few square meters and was only accommodated by 5 Great Crested Grebes before even they abandoned it. After some distant scanning from the platform and straining our eyes to the limit, we were rewarded with 4♂ SCAUP (a life tick) amongst the commoner Tufted Ducks, Gadwall, Wigeon, Pochard, Moorhen, Coot and Great Crested Grebes. Although distant, it was surprisingly easy to separate them from the smaller Tufted Ducks, by their paler back, and very different, more robust, when seen in profile. For much of the time they remained resting and rarely lifted their heads, however after a long wait they became more active, swimming strongly and even diving frequently. Later on the female appeared bringing the total to 5 SCAUP (4♂,1♀).
♂ Scuap, second bird to the left of the moorhen in the reeds
some Scuap somewhere amongst the Tufties
view over the distant reedbed
Hilfield Park Reservoir
thank you scope once again
two, possibly three of the male Scuap together infront of the gap in the reeds
ALDENHAM COUNTRY PARK RESERVOIR
I still had much time to spare as I had already seen both target species of the day so I decided to get a little closer to some wildfowl by visiting Aldenham Country Park Reservoir. As predicted the birds were closer and were separated into two large congregations on the lake. Each group was keeping a small area in the east and west from freezing over, although sadly this was made all the more difficult by a lot of human disturbance. The usual species including Mallard, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Wigeon, Gadwall were all present in good numbers and 3 Mandarins (2♂, 1♀) (a year tick) were hid amongst the low branches of trees as they sat on the snow covered ground. After a few minutes of scanning the ducks 300+ Black-headed Gulls flew in together with dozens of Common Gulls and 1ad. sum. Herring Gull, but nothing out of the ordinary. Dozens of Great Crested Grebes were also on the lake but I was rather upset at the sight of 1 Great Crested Grebe with a red elastic band stuck around its throat/chest, it was consistently trying to break itself free in vein, yet unfortunately all I could do was stand helplessly and look. On the brighter side 2 Little Grebes were amongst the wildfowl on the western pool and a total of 51 Fieldfare flew over. I decided to make a round walk of the reservoir, which I have never done before. This excursion (mostly through the surrounding woodland) clocked in 3 Ring-necked Parakeets, 2 Song Thrushes, 2 Redwing, 2 Jays, sevearl caling Siskin with 1 seen, 2 Mistle Thrushes and 1-2♂ Red Crested Pochard, one amongst a group of Mallard in the north east corner and a second (possibly the same bird) in the eastern pool.