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Sunday, 19 January 2020

Out For A Duck - on 30th December, 2019

Harking back to the end of last year, I'd been getting a bit stir-crazy and, having heard of an interesting sighting at the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's Drakelow Nature Reserve, I came to the conclusion that an after-lunch visit was required. 

I arrived at the car park  to find just one car there, with a couple just about to get into it to depart. They reassured me that my target was there, and that there was a 'young man' in the hide that would show me where to look. As there was no other vehicle present, and this place is in the back of beyond, I wondered how he'd got there. As I approached the hide, I got my answer - he'd arrived by bicycle. What was more impressive was that he'd managed to bring a 'scope and full-sized tripod with him.

He told me that my target had been showing well, but that it had currently disappeared round a distant 'headland'. Oh well! - time for a pleasant chat in good company. 

It didn't take very long, however, for my target to appear - there she was - a female Long-tailed Duck. It had been more than three years since I'd seen this species inland (at Rutland Water) and, surprisingly, nearly nine years since I'd seen one on the Scottish coast (where they are relatively common in winter). She was, however, a long way away.

Although the sun was shining, it was fairly low and giving difficult light conditions for photography because of strong contrasts between water, background, and the bird. It didn't help that the bird was actively feeding and spending most of its time underwater, only surfacing for a few seconds before disappearing and then surfacing some time later in a different location.

Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis) (female) - Drakelow NR
After a while, the duck disappeared round the back of the headland again. I waited a while, but the only thing to come near enough to the camera to take a photo of was a Wigeon.

Wigeon (Mareca penelope) (male) - Drakelow NR
After a while, I decided that it was time to explore the rest of the site - if only to get a little exercise! Although I saw plenty, there was nothing to tempt me to use the camera but, as I headed back, a pair of Mute Swans made it quite clear that they wanted their photo taken - or maybe they thought I would feed them!

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) - Drakelow NR
Although it was now 15h00 and the light was failing, I thought it might be worth my while to pop into the first hide again and see if the Long-tailed Duck was showing. It wasn't at first, but it soon appeared again and I managed some more shots although the light was even more difficult.

Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis) (female) - Drakelow NR
To my delight, it then came somewhat closer! It was, however, still spending most of its time underwater.

Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis) (female) - Drakelow NR
I do think that a female Long-tailed Duck looks wonderful face-on.

The light was going and there was no point in hanging around any longer, particularly as the exit gate was nearly a mile and a half away (2.2km) down a slow track and I didn't want to be trying to read the combination lock in the dark.

I'm sorry if this post feels a bit like scraping the bottom of the barrel which, essentially, it is. I have absolutely no idea what the subject of my next post might be as, until I find the time to get out again, I will have little to offer. I'm just hoping that my wife Lindsay's back gets better soon so that I can be released from some of the household duties!

Thank you for dropping by. Please, in all your activities, think about the future of the planet and its wildlife and do what you can to protect it - or it might not have a future!