Lesser Scaup #2 for Frodsham Marsh

Lesser Scaup #2 for Frodsham Marsh

by Sean O’Hara

25th May 2014 
27.05.14. Lesser Scaup, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Allan Conlin
After a busy weekend it was nice to get out birding, if only for an hour or two on Sunday late afternoon. It was 4 pm by the time I arrived on Frodsham Marsh so I decide to head out to the Weaver bend for starters. Things were fairly quiet but it was May and there were some heavy showers about, I was hopeful that something may have dropped in.
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On the Weaver there were the usual Tufted Ducks, Great Crested Grebes, Coot and Canada Geese. On the Shooters’ pools 2 Avocet were present, but no sign of any young, here’s hoping they survive? Plenty of Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat and a nice male Blackcap as I came back to the car.
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Next I relocated to No.6 tank, parked up near the ramp, and headed off along the path between six and No.5 tanks. Lots of Swallows and Swifts about with some great views of the Swifts as they swooped past at head height. Some heavy showers coming in now so it was nice to find shelter under the big Poplar trees further up the track, I spent some time watching Whitethroats from only a yard or two away, they were obviously too busy feeding young to mind me. The showers eased off for a minute so made it to the view-point and then round to the small secluded pool on six, it was quiet but for a few Teal and some squabbling Coot were there. No sign of the Marsh Harrier, it must be sheltering from the rain a bit like me.
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I again sheltered under the trees for a while on the way back watching the same Whitethroat family. At 7.30 pm it was time to head home as the rain stopped again. I’ll have one last look over No.6 tank before I headed for the car.
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26.05.14. Lesser Scaup and Tufted Duck, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton
Looking over the water and three birds were quite close to me a pair of Tufted Duck and a paler looking bird…? A drake Scaup! All three birds were asleep with heads under wings, so I had time to set up my scope to have a closer look. I’d seen Lesser Scaup before, at Burton Mere Wetlands and at very close quarters on the lily ponds there, and also the bird at Marshside a year or two ago….alarm bells rang in my head! A frantic dash to the car to retrieve my camera and field guide, luckily not far away. However, by the time I returned the birds had woken up but drifted further away.
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26.05.14. Lesser Scaup (drake), No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton
The Scaup…possible Lesser Scaup? The bird did a bit of wing flapping a couple of times, so I managed to confirm that important inner white wing bar and definitely slightly smaller than Tufted Duck it was with. I fired off a few record shots but they were very distant and in poor light.
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My next thoughts…who to tell? My first ever self found semi-rarity !!!  I knew I needed to tell someone and get this confirmed. I regularly follow the Frodsham Marsh Birdblog blog and occasionally report my sightings. So a  quick drive home to South Liverpool and an e-mail to Bill who administers the blog was my best and the quickest option. I must really take my mobile out with me more often!
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The next day I returned to Frodsham Marsh and had seen Bill’s great photos confirming it was indeed a Lesser Scaup. As I pulled up in my car another birder arrived…winding his car window down he asked  ” where is the best place to see the Red-necked Grebe ? ” Don’t you mean Lesser Scaup I replied! I couldn’t believe it?
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What a great place Frodsham Marsh is!
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Sean O’Hara.
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Images: title header by Allan Conlin and others by WSM.