Wednesday 15 February 2023

R-b Merg

Drake Red-breasted Merganser off Shelly Beach this afternoon.

Off Mudbank today - counts included c270 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 30+ Common Gulls, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 20 Redshank, 4 Greenshank, 65+ Wigeon, c70 Bar-tailed Godwits, c145 Curlew, c150 Grey Plovers, 85 Shelduck, c75 Knot, 3 Mediterranean Gulls, 1 Chiffchaff and the Cetti's Warbler. Great to catch up with Rupert and Derek.
A short distance upriver, off Sowden Lane - 1 drake Goldeneye, the female Scaup and 4 Red-breasted Mergansers.
Maer Rocks, early on - the 2 immature drake Eiders, 3 Common Scoters, 3 Great Crested Grebes, 86 Dark-bellied Brent Geese (14 juveniles) and just 2 Purple Sandpipers.
The Eastern Lesser Whitethroat continues its residence in Halsdon Avenue gardens (thanks once again Richard) and, off Shelly Beach late on - 2 Ravens, 8 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 1 Mediterranean Gull, 4 Red-breasted Mergansers, c175 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and 1 Sparrowhawk. Great to bump into Hilary.
Yesterday, off Maer Rocks  - the 2 immature male Eiders, 4 Shelduck, 40 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and 2 Great Crested Grebes.
Mudbank - 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, 1 Ringed Plover, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, and 16 Common Gulls.
Maer Lane - 2 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 Little Egrets, 60+ Pied Wagtails and at least 2 Ring-necked Parakeets.

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat.

Four Greenshank (with a couple Redshank) - Mudbank.

Male Ring-necked Parakeet - Maer Valley.

 Second-winter Mediterranean Gull - in cattle fields yesterday. The same bird was one of three off Mudbank today. A little upsurge in numbers over the last couple of days.

Adult Mediterranean Gull - Maer Farm.


  1. Your top photo of the smart drake Red-breasted Merganser brought a smile to my face as yesterday I was with a group at Arundel WWT (where there were quite a few Med Gulls) & I received a message a drake had been found close to home at Ruislip Lido. I wasn't sure that it would hang around but luck on my side as it showed brilliantly (leaden skies though!) this morning.

    It was a first for the site (they are pretty scarce in London) & at it's closest it was about a metre from the water's edge diving with a Black-headed Gull hovering over it. Managed to see all the regular 3 sawbills at the Lido now.

    Always envy your sightings of these birds, though did see 7 on a trip to Keyhaven on Sunday.

    Should be getting our first migrants soon!

  2. Hi Neil - it's amazing how species that are common in some places are so rare in others. Don't think I can count them as common though. Regular might be a better term. Sadly, locally, Red-breasted Mergansers have declined dramatically over recent years. Memories of 90+ flocks are still fresh in my mind but we've only got a dozen on the river this winter. Smew is a really rare bird in Devon now but I think Goosander numbers are reasonably stable. For how long though? Like you, am looking forward to the arrival of the summer migrants. Apparently there were a couple House Martins seen in Exmouth yesterday. Would like to have seen those. All the best. Matt.