First Winter / Female Long-tailed Duck at Hook with Warsash NR

   Despite the bitterly cold northerly wind and having no idea about tide times I headed off to Hook with Warsash in the hope that the reported Long-tailed Duck, that has given close views, would still be present.  I arrived at 1450 to find the tide completely out.  The only open water was that provided by the narrow, meandering channel that discharges freshwater from Hook Lake via the sluice.   Having always seen Long-tailed Duck on open bodies of water I did not expect to find the Long-tailed Duck in the channel but it was – less than 50m away! 

   For a few minutes the bird dived for food amongst several Wigeon before it took flight for some unapparent reason.  Although it always remained over the mud it initially headed in an easterly direction towards land before turning about to eventually land back in the channel beside the sluice.  The central dark line down the otherwise white rump and tail was very prominent in flight.  Now even closer the bird continually dived for food progressively moving seaward down the channel. 

   Also present along the channel were a couple of Mute Swan (one with a metal ring), a Redshank, c40 Wigeon and a year tick in the form of a single Rock Pipit.  Also worthy of note on the offshore side of Hook Spit were 13 Ringed Plover amongst c80 Dunlin and a number of Herring Gull, Common Gull and Carrion Crow that were dropping shellfish from height onto an exposed offshore shingle bank.  

   For a couple of photographs of the Long-tailed Duck see Steve’s earlier entry. 

Good birding,

Tony Tindale   BSc (Hons) Geosci (Open)

Long Tailed Duck at Hook

Had a brief walk around the reserve this morning in pretty atrocious weather. I picked up the duck as I rounded the harbour wall. It was quite busy feeding in the harbour itself. I could see another birder snapping away at a very confiding bird. Unfortunately within about twenty seconds of me joining the party, a Black Headed Gull flew in and alighted adjacent to the Duck. Whether the Gull spooked the Duck or not I’m not sure but it flew out of the harbour over the spit and landed on the sea about 30 metres from the beach.Long-tailed Duck, Hook with Warsash, 6 Feb 2009The other birder was a young lad (compared to me) called Ashley. He did say he had a bird blog but I didn’t get the name, but it should be worth a visit for what I am sure will be better pictures than these!

The Duck spent the next hour or so drifting down Southampton Water but staying roughly parallel to the beach. It fed actively for half an hour then proceeded to preen for the remainder of my stay. Hopefully the bird will stay in the area for a while longer and I will get down again and try and improve on the photos here when the weather turns.

Steve Copsey