Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Wednesday 2nd. January 2013

Gone was yesterday's sunshine , but with a promise of half a day without rain , I set off to see if I could find the Smew that I saw posted yesterday , not for from a site where the Surrey Hedgelaying Group worked a few years ago . Spynes Mere was where we worked , but I was heading for Mercer's Lake close by , and used through the warmer months for aquatic sports . Although the car park was closed for the Winter , I soon found another entrance which could well be called 'The Somme' , as the footpath , although on a good gradient , proved something of a challenge . The report told of one drake and 1/2 redheads , but the lake is a good size and attracts a lot of gulls , not exactly what is needed when looking for the drake , an almost white bird .The footpath got somewhat better half way round , but no Smew were sighted , not helped by the thickly wooded banks of the lake , providing plenty of hiding places . Eventually I slipped and slithered around to the Water Sports Centre , where at least I was able to have a good look around from the vantage point . It seemed that every floating
platform was covered with gulls , with a high number being Greater Black-backed , like these two , and needless to say it was quite noisy . Along with the expected Coots , Moorhens , Cormorants
and Little  and Great Crested Grebes , there were lots of Tufted Ducks along with a few Pochard and various types of Mallard , but not what I was there for , until , from nowhere , a white blob popped up
out by a fallen tree , the drake Smew . But , as quickly as he appeared , he disappeared again , where to I don't know . Scanning the lake again , I failed to find him , but right over the other side I could just make out a redhead , tucked almost into the bank and the overhanging trees . I decided to trudge back to see if I could get a shot of her from the elevated footpath behind . Carefully , I managed to
get into position without spooking her , only to find that she wasn't alone , the drake was with her . I managed a few shots , but a dog walker with two dogs , closely followed by another birder came by and the birds saw one or both or all four , and flew off . I managed to follow them as they flew back towards the fallen tree and touch down just beyond . I followed , my boots now feeling like two blocks of concrete . On reaching the Centre , there was no sign of either bird , but once again the drake 'appeared' phantom-like , just beyond the tip of the fallen tree . A few minutes later , the
redhead appeared and had a wash and brush up , before rejoining the drake , then the two paddled off together , back across to the other side of the lake . I had to pass by again to get back to the car via 'The Somme' , and had a quick glimpse of the redhead but no sign of the drake . Back at the car the promised rain was imminent , but I decided to have a look around another couple of lakes , more open , with a housing development on one side and a landfill site on the other . There wasn't a great
deal to see , but there was a very tame Great Crested Grebe that posed quite happily just 15 mtrs. away , with no cover between us , most unusual , and several pairs of Gadwall , the males not looking
quite so dapper without the sun on them . I was about to call it a day , or should that be morning , when I met a local birder who said he was on his way to check out a spot where 8 Jack Snipe were seen at close range yesterday , so I asked if I could tag on . As it turned out , a good search by the two of us was in vain , as not a single 'bob' was seen , but if you don't look , you don't find . Getting back to the car it started to drizzle , which turned into rain on the way home .


Phil said...

Great to see a drake Smew Greenie, I never tire of seeing them, not that I've seen that many. Managed to see the red head version at Streamside lake New Hythe yesterday afternoon.

Marc Heath said...

The most attractive of our Ducks. Nice shots and report Greenie.

Alan Pavey said...

Always nice to see Smew Greenie, sounds like you put in a lot of effort, i'm pleased you were rewarded :-)

Warren Baker said...

Drake Smew really are stunners Greenie, a set of photo's to keep I think :-)

Marianne said...

Wow, gorgeous drake Smew. It sounds like you had to work pretty hard for that sighting - hope your boots have recovered from their ordeal!