Friday, 4 May 2012

It's a Hybrid!

Though maybe not the one that is exercising the minds of many birders up and down the country. Perhaps more predictably mine is a duck. With a car that sounds like a drag racer until the exhaust gets fixed next week I decided not to venture too far yesterday so I breezed up the back roads to East Chevington NWT and planned to work my way south.
From the first hide I had decent views of both male and female Marsh Harriers though apart from hods of Swallows the rest of the pool was quiet-ish, only a single Sandwich Tern and a few Goldeneyes worth mentioning at first glance.
At the bottom car park a singing Sedge Warbler entertained for a while, first of the year for me, whilst along the path south a single female Wheatear.
I decided to spend a little more time, fired by news of a Bluethroat somewhere on the east coast further south, I wandered up the east path, had a pair of Stonechats and tried to string a Robin into something better before arriving at the L-shaped hide. I waded through the floods outside (remember boardwalks?) and clattered the shutters open with metal on metal noises reminiscent of a dodgy fifties movie involving Notre Dame. Had there been an ugly fellow with a dodgy back in the corner I wouldn't have been the least bit surprised.

A 1st-winter Little Gull dip-fed with a few Common Terns, I spent a little time searching through several hundred hirundines hoping for something special, though I couldn't even find a single House Martin amongst the swallows and Sand Martins to cast a second glance at.
A few Wigeon loafed a couple of hundred meters north of the island and whilst casually scanning through them I came across a drake with a very grey looking head; roosting at first it took a little while to get a decent look. Was it a drake American Wigeon in early eclipse? What did 1st-winter drake Yanks look like? I spent a little time taking a critical look at this individual and after some helpful discussion eventually came to the conclusion it had to be a hybrid. Head shape didn't look right, flanks were grey at the rear and it lacked the dark green stripe behind the eye. Presumably then a drake American Wigeon x Wigeon hybrid





I banged a couple of images out on the phone to get a second opinion that confirmed my thinking and moved on. On the way back out of the reserve a further 3 Wheatears sat on top of the willows along the channel.
Little of note elsewhere though two Common Sandpipers at Castle Island were another new species for the year.

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