About Two Owls

Thursday 7 April 2022

Untickable Baikal Teal

On the 7th of March Jackie and I decided to take a trip down to the Somerset Levels, to Greylake RSPB, in the hope we would get lucky and see the Baikal Teal which had been present there for a few weeks. Unfortunately when we arrived we were told it had been on show but the RSPB had gone out to do a check on the Fox proof fencing and had disturbed the bird.  Though everything had returned no one was able to find the teal. It was a fine but cold breezy day and we decided to give it to lunch time and if we hadn't seen it we would go to Ham Wall for Bittern and the egrets etc.  During our time there searching for the teal on occasions Marsh Harriers also a Buzzard flushed most of the water fowl and they would lift off and fly around, eventually settling back on the marsh again.  We would scan again to see if we could find the elusive Baikal Teal.  During these mad whirling mass of duck that flew around in panic avoiding the raptors I took a number of photographs just at random of the mass of birds and scanned for the teal but we had no luck at all finding it.  So we ended the morning with a dip and headed off to Ham Wall for lunch and the afternoon.  

Now this isn't quite the end of the Baikal Teal story as several day after returning home when I had a little time to process the photographs taken on the day.  I had a quick scan through the photograph of the flushed flock of ducks. Yes, you've probably guessed now what I'm going to say, in one of them there is a Baikal Teal unseen by everyone at the time but captured by the camera, a camera tick. 
The question is would you tick it or not? We've decided not but it is a bit of a dilemma. The only year tick I had here was Cetti's Warbler which was hardly any consolation. 

                     Untickable Baikal Teal - Greylake © Nick Hull

Ham Wall as ever was great with all the usual species that one would expect good numbers of Great White Egret, Marsh Harrier and a good selection of water fowl.  We only managed to hear a Bittern 'boom' but that was enough to add it to the year list and we will return on another day and hopefully see one before the year is out.

Back home on the patch at Lytchett we added Green Sandpiper, Kestrel, and Mistle Thrush the latter of these species isn't particularly regular on the patch so was nice to get under the belt.  Our next patch tick came on the 20th when Ian Ballam called to say he had a Garganey out in the bay and it had headed towards the end of footpath 12.  We headed out but was unable to find it, it had probably headed into one of the little creeks in the reed bed out of sight.  We didn't have much time as we had arranged to meet friends at Lodmoor. This  turned out pretty well as we added Ruff, Red Kite and our first Swallow of the year and on the way home a quick stop at Maiden Castle added Corn Bunting to the year list too.   Not a bad day but it wasn't over after arriving home, Shaun called to say he had relocated the Garganey out in the bay and it was viewable from the Lytchett Bay Viewpoint.   So we quickly popped around the corner and joined Shaun who directed us onto the bird. It wasn't the best view as we were looking into the late afternoon sun but you could make out it was clearly a Garganey a nice way to end a good days birding.

Yellowhammer taking a drink St Aldhelm's Head © Nick Hull

The last couple of weeks of the month were spent trying to catch up with a few of the species that are not so easy to find the local area, well particularly in the 10km challenge area.  We made a couple of visits following up on information passed to us from friends, one to St Aldhelm's Head which proved fruitful with us seeing our first Wheatear of the year followed by Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting and both Red-legged and Grey Partridge.  

Little Ringed Plover - Lytchett Fields RSPB © Nick Hull

Then to finish up the month on the 25th we had two Little Ringed Plover at Lytchett Bay on the Sherford Pools field, which we followed on the 28th with one of the Isle of Weight introduction immature White-tailed Eagle in the Lower Frome valley.  This made a nice end to the month.

Very distant Carrion Crow (top) - fem Marsh Harrier (middle) & imm White-tailed Eagle