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Hooded Merganser in Kent 2011

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  • Hooded Merganser in Kent 2011

    I've just heard the female that turned up in Kent on the 10/02/2012 is 'wary, fully-winged & un-ringed' blah blah blah. I assumed that this bird will be given the benefit of doubt as long as it disappears over the next few weeks based on the fact the BBRC accepted the adult female in Kent that was present during December 2005. Maybe this individual is the very same bird that appeared in south-west Norway towards the end of August last year. It's arrival in Britain would have coincided with the cold snap that occurred in Northern Europe around the beginning of February.

    I was also wondering if anyone had any specific information regarding the alleged feral Dutch population?

    All the best....
    Archie - Association of Satirical Birders & Ornithologists

    check out my blog at www.archiesbirding.blogspot.com

  • #2
    Originally posted by Archie Archer View Post
    I was also wondering if anyone had any specific information regarding the alleged feral Dutch population?
    Sounds like there are quite a lot of escapes, and a pair bred in 2008 at least. With loads of sawbills arriving from a similar source at about the same time, it seems a logical explanation....

    Just thinking about it makes me feel dirty!

    Josh
    Josh Jones
    http://joshrjones.blogspot.co.uk/

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    • #3
      The weather conditions in the Netherlands were not that harsh at the time, indeed a few of their famous speed-skating races had to be cancelled due to the lack of suitable ice. I think the sawbill influx you mention probably originated from much further north and east than 'balmy Holland'.
      Archie - Association of Satirical Birders & Ornithologists

      check out my blog at www.archiesbirding.blogspot.com

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Archie Archer View Post
        The weather conditions in the Netherlands were not that harsh at the time, indeed a few of their famous speed-skating races had to be cancelled due to the lack of suitable ice. I think the sawbill influx you mention probably originated from much further north and east than 'balmy Holland'.
        Pretty sure I saw some photos of the North Sea frozen in N Netherlands... doesn't that make it cold
        Josh Jones
        http://joshrjones.blogspot.co.uk/

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        • #5
          The speed skating in Amsterdam went ahead earlier this year. I have seen photos of one group of lads sitting on a sofa mid canal and another group who were warming themselves with a fire on the ice. Barmy but not balmy.

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          • #6
            It was very, very cold in the first two weeks of February. I'm in Noord Holland and night temperatures were down to -20. Maximum day temperatures were around -5 for much of the period. The big ice-skating race (in Friesland) was called off at the last minute because of dangerous ice conditions on some parts of the course. Given that some 60,000 were expected to participate that's perhaps not too surprising. That race hasn't happened for about 15 years. I think Dutch hospitals dealt with about 13,000 injuries caused by falls on the ice!

            It was bloody cold! We even had a Woodcock at the bottom of our suburban garden.

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            • #7
              BRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!! Still no where near as severe as the conditions in the Ukraine & Russia though hey?

              David, do you have any definite info regarding the 'feral' population of Dutch Hoodies? Are they multiplying at the same speed and taking part in similar acts of anti-social behaviour as the Hoodies (of a different species) we have over here?
              Archie - Association of Satirical Birders & Ornithologists

              check out my blog at www.archiesbirding.blogspot.com

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              • #8
                Hooded Merganser is one of the commonest wildfowl species kept in captivity and is easily bred. It is particularly popular amongst rich gentry, who buy them to 'decorate' their ornamental ponds. They frequently escape in the UK and I have lost count of the number that I have twitched and seen. I find it particularly telling that it was found during a particurlarly cold spell of weather both here and on the continent - at a time when many small ponds were totally frozen over.

                I would have expected a genuine vagrant Hooded Merganser to have turned up late last autumn, perhaps like the Cornish Bufflehead and with so many water bodies regularly checked, I would have expected it found well before February of the following year.

                Last time I checked, there were two pairs breeding 'ferally' in the Netherlands, from memory spawning 7 and 5 young respectively. I suspect several recent East Coast records of this species probably emanated from the near Continent, especially when you consider how regularly we get Australian Black Swans, Bar-headed Geese, Ruddy Shelduck, Chilean Flamingo and other exotica arriving from there.

                As with all species of wildfowl, it really is a lottery whether any of them are any good but commonsense would prevail that a small percentage are genuine vagrants - and a West Coast youngster in November following a period of westerly gales is a pretty good bet (although of course we cannot ignore the Fota bird of western Ireland that was bearing a multi-coloured plastic ring when seen closely)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Archie Archer View Post
                  BRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!! Still no where near as severe as the conditions in the Ukraine & Russia though hey?

                  David, do you have any definite info regarding the 'feral' population of Dutch Hoodies? Are they multiplying at the same speed and taking part in similar acts of anti-social behaviour as the Hoodies (of a different species) we have over here?
                  No, not as cold as Moscow when I was there a few years ago with the daytime high of -17.

                  I'm not aware that Hoodies are that common in the Netherlands. I've only been in Noord Holland for a month and have spent most of that time sorting out the move and the new house. But they still come up as rarities on the waarneming.nl site which suggests they are just that - rare. There was one reported in the last few days on a lake about 6km from where we now live. To be honest I couldn't be ....d, especially as I've seen the "real thing" in the US.

                  David

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                  • #10
                    Lee,

                    I love your turn of phrase. I never thought I'd see the term 'rich gentry' or the word 'spawning' on a thread regarding a species of wildfowl. I'm not really concerned whether this particular bird is an escape, from feral stock or wild to be honest however the point I was trying to make above is the BBRC have set a precedent. This means that unless this individual disgraces itself and lingers into the summer then it's a dead cert' to be accepted. I realise that acceptance is no admission that a bird is wild but it does mean that the record is given some degree of credibility. I don't think the bird turning up in February is particularly a cause for concern especially as a certain North American Warbler did exactly the same thing. Both birds could have quite easily been happily winding down their winter days undetected in Scotland until the cold snap hit during early February.

                    Also I find it quite amusing that some folks are playing down this bird after getting slightly aroused by the recent escaped Wood Duck in Eire. It's about time that some British birders stopped looking upon the Emerald Isle with such misty eyed, aviform related romanticism and became more concerned about events in their own back yard.

                    I assume that based upon your knowledge of the Dutch feral population that the current Kent record will not be quite good enough to make it onto the esteemed UK400 Bird-spotting List?
                    Last edited by Archie Archer; March 1st, 2012, 11:50 AM.
                    Archie - Association of Satirical Birders & Ornithologists

                    check out my blog at www.archiesbirding.blogspot.com

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                    • #11
                      I've done a bit of digging around on the status of Hooded Merganser in the Netherlands and I see they are all regarded as "escapes". In fact the one that was close by and present last week was wearing a coloured ring! Interestingly though, the vast majority of records are between November and February with only a tiny number outside that period, suggesting that they move north or east in spring. Either that or Dutch birders don't look at larger inland waters outside winter!

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                      • #12
                        Cheers David, nice to have someone onboard with some proper Dutch gen. Hope you don't get too much stick over last night's footie result!
                        Last edited by Archie Archer; March 1st, 2012, 11:50 AM.
                        Archie - Association of Satirical Birders & Ornithologists

                        check out my blog at www.archiesbirding.blogspot.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Archie

                          I am kept well up to speed with events in the Netherlands by my good friends at Dutch Birding. As I said, it is well documented the status of Hooded Mergansers in that country and I have provided you with some data from one year (there should be more information within the pages of the magazine). There should also be a file on the UK400 Club email group detailing all acceptable and unacceptable Hooded Mergansers up until 2008 I think.

                          I made the effort of checking out the bird today, so as not to speak of it without having seen it in the flesh. It seems to be a first-winter female, although ageing Hooded Mergansers in March is quite difficult. It is not particularly approachable, coming to within 80 yards of the bank, and the gravel pit is on is quite large and not a small site as some previous birds have visited. It is feeding naturally and almost continuously, is fully winged and seemingly unringed. It is equally as good as the previous Kent bird that was accepted by BBRC (but rather on identification rather than escape likelihood).

                          DIRECTIONS

                          Park sensibly and courteously in Five Oak Green, 3.5 miles east of Tonbridge. Walk along Whetsted Road and then take the entrance to Moat Farm. After 130 yards, skirt round the farm to the right and follow footpaths 158 & 159, keeping the farm buildings always immediately on your left. Continue on the well marked trail across open farmland for a further 350 yards before you come out to the three gravel pits, the Hooded Merganser and other wildfowl favouring the largest pit to the left of the causeway track.

                          The location is typical of the sort of site a natural vagrant would turn up but whether or not it is a bird that escaped locally in the freeze is impossible to glean; equally, it could easily be a Dutch bird that arrived after being frozen out. There is no way of telling either way.

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                          • #14
                            I have had a chance to check our photographs from yesterday and the patterning of the upperwing, surprisingly difficult to see in the field, appears to confirm that it is an ADULT FEMALE - a broad greater covert bar being present (see below). I have also learnt that Leeds Castle has a population of Hooded Mergansers which, as the bird flies, is about 7 miles away.

                            Hooded Merganser, Whetsted GP, Kent, 1 March 2012 (Chris Holt)

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                            • #15
                              Nice one Lee, thanks for posting the pics. I agree that it seems to suggest an adult. Right, what's the telephone number for Leeds Castle? I'm gonna give #em a piece of my mind!
                              Archie - Association of Satirical Birders & Ornithologists

                              check out my blog at www.archiesbirding.blogspot.com

                              Comment

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