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Friday, 25 January 2013

Sad demise of Ruddy Duck

Whilst driving to a meeting at the Time & Tide Museum, I noted a Fieldfare fly over Southtown road and perch in a tree by Matalan, it later flew back to another tree on the same car park before flying over to the Mountain Ash/ Waxwing trees just south of there. At Great Yarmouth Library, by the Sycamore along the eastern side of the car park, a Redwing perched on top of the tree. Along Caister road, another Fieldfare flew east across and over the road, whilst travelling north. Later on at lunchtime from the dual carraigeway going west of Caister, I noted a Brown Hare running along a field carpeted with snow. As I was working at Martham Library this afternoon, I had an eventful lunchtime visit at Filby from 12.45 to 1.45pm. Walking to Filby Broad from the car park, some birds flew in by the alders including at least 5 Siskins, around 70 Coot swam away plus a Kingfisher zipped past first showing its irridescent blue plumage as it flashed past, and later its fiery orange under belly when it returned. At a 95% frozen Filby Broad, near the bridge was an unfrozen patch of water were around 30 Tufted Duck and a very close male Goldeneye. Looking over to an area near the back, to the right of the wooded island, was a long line of unfrozen water, amongst the Tufted duck here, was an excellent female Ruddy Duck, a small pale buff duck with stiff erect tail, now very much a rarity following the ongoing DEFRA cull to stop this bird hybridizing with the globally threatened near relative the White- headed Duck in Spain. It was swimming around merrily swimming left along with the Tufted ducks. I watched it for some time as it swam and constantly dived, it showed paler checks with dark brown band running across them. I then walked to Ormesby Little Broad, (on the walk down, along the boardwalk, by the dyke a Kingfisher zipped past), here too the Broad was 95% frozen, 2 Mute Swans & Tufted duck seen in the unfrozen pool at the back. By the alders, 2 Marsh Tits flew across from right to left and a Lesser Redpoll was heard but not seen. At the very back just left of the wooded island was another small area of unfrozen water and a thin line of unfrozen water by the far bank, this area was covered with many, many c150 Shovelors, a male Pintail was seen here too and following a sighting from other birders, I scanned this area constantly for half an hour before a female Marsh Harrier helpfully (for me!) scattered the birds as it flew low over the ducks here. Many started to swim way over to the right or fly away. At last I had a chance of realistically seeing these elusive Smew, amongst their number, I briefly spied an excellent redhead female Smew swimming right too. The constant scanning over the far side of the Broad, meant that I missed a macabre event reported to me by other birders who just arrived (from viewing the broad from the boardwalk bridge along the eastern side of the Broad, they informed me that they had been watching the female Ruddy Duck swimming in this area, when abruptly a Great Black- backed Gull had flown over and was about to commit a felony, it swam alongside it in the water, the GBB Gull promptly grabbed the female Ruddy Duck's head and held it under water drowning the unfortunate bird. The GBB Gull then grabbed it's unfortunate victim and flew onto the ice. Later, I saw the GBB Gull pecking at a corpse of a very small pale brown duck, which indeed looked like a corpse of the female Ruddy Duck.

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