Lovely ducks the Garganey, the last one sighted in Gateshead being 2012, which I didn't get to see, and my memory fails me regarding the last time I did see one, though I know I've had one at Shibdon before (or was it Far Pasture?) but we're talking a decade ago at least.
I digress, the point is, now I can walk to Shibdon this was too good an opportunity to miss, but as I had tasks to perform I decided to get them out of the way first then make the trek to the pond, as past experience of these ducks means I could expect them to be dozing for long periods before one bothered to show itself, so was unsure how long it would take to get decent views and a half decent record shot for the blog.
|Shibdon Pond, a panoramic view from the hide|
Consequently it was around 11.30am when I entered the hide, just one other birder (unknown) in attendance. I wanted to find them meself so didn't enquire as to their whereabouts (if indeed they were still present) but a quick sweep of the pond revealed the tell-tale white eye-stripe of a (very) distant Garganey, and the second was quickly located (as I thought it may be) tucked asleep front of the main island.
For the next half hour or so this was as good as it got, the sleeping duck seemed to tuck further and further into the island, and the dabbling duck ended tight against the far reeds, the dullness of the day not offering great views or photo opportunities.
|That's a Garganey tucked in just left of the sleeping Shoveler, great view.|
|And that's about as close as the other one came before retreating to the reeds art the back|
There wasn't actually a great deal of other interest on the pond. Only three species of gull present, a few Shoveler are always nice to see, and the only waders were a pair of Oystercatcher which at least flew in from the far raft and entertained me close in with their carrot-beaks and noisy calls.
|Pair of Oyks on the far raft|
|at least came closer but still very dull for photos|
|The huge beak on the well-named Shoveler|
But while I was watching these the sleeping Garganey must have awoken, as next time I scoured the island he was nowhere to be seen, then I spotted him further up nearer the duck feeding area, dabbling in open water.
I made haste, packed away, closed the windows, locked the door and yomped further along the shore, where this dandy of a duck was showing beautifully and close enough for half-decent record shots. The sun even shone for a little while, enabling me to see him in all his glory, great binocular views, a fine fellow indeed.
|even out in the open it was tricky to get a shot with his head out of the water|
|plenty of arse shots to be had too|
|patience rewarded, look at the size of that head-stripe|
|slightly better in the sunshine for showing his plumage but the gusty wind didn't help matters either|
|At least on this one you can see those long back feathers, the photos really don't do him justice.|
That was good enough for me, it was almost 12.30pm now, and I couldn't hang around too long as I still needed to get things done at home. Nevertheless a successful twitch, and you won't hear me say that too often ;-)
(biro and coloured pencil)