February 28th, 2012, 08:48 AM
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....
February 28th, 2012, 10:04 AM
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....
Originally Posted by Archie Archer
Just thinking about it makes me feel dirty!
February 28th, 2012, 11:37 AM
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'.
February 28th, 2012, 01:05 PM
February 29th, 2012, 01:37 PM
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.
February 29th, 2012, 02:15 PM
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.
February 29th, 2012, 02:28 PM
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?
February 29th, 2012, 11:18 PM
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)
March 1st, 2012, 08:05 AM
No, not as cold as Moscow when I was there a few years ago with the daytime high of -17.
Originally Posted by Archie Archer
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.
March 1st, 2012, 08:23 AM
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 at 10:50 AM.