March 1st, 2012, 10:05 AM
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!
March 1st, 2012, 10:27 AM
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 at 11:50 AM.
March 1st, 2012, 08:11 PM
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).
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.
March 2nd, 2012, 08:36 AM
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)
March 2nd, 2012, 10:07 AM
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!
March 2nd, 2012, 02:11 PM
I visited Leeds Castle a couple of times last year and never saw any Hooded Merganser and have just spoken to Customer Services there who say the aviary has now been closed and the only birds they keep are those belonging to the Falconers. The aviary used to have such delights as Avocet and Black-winged Stilt and I recall a drake Shoveler (pinioned) in with a pair of Ringed Teal (I think) but no other wildfowl. I spoke to another birder who visits there on a regular basis and he too confirms they have never held Hooded Merganser. Where did you get your info from Lee?
All the best
Last edited by Marcus; March 2nd, 2012 at 02:30 PM.
March 2nd, 2012, 05:41 PM
The information was relayed to me by Kent birder Brian Little but I have no idea if he was speaking with first-hand knowledge. Perhaps you may like to email him. It does seem a little bizarre if they have never owned any. Perhaps he was on a wind-up, you know what people are like, especially when dealing with 'duff ducks' like Hooded Mergansers. Interestingly, it is nowhere to be seen today - just the drake Smew still. Was there a full moon last night in Kent? The Northumberland Hooded Merganser famously departed Northumberland on the first full moonlit night in spring of that year - apparently a most popular time for wildfowl to migrate.
March 2nd, 2012, 10:13 PM
Nope; full moon this month is on 8 March, a week's time after its departure. So it left on the half-moon.
Originally Posted by LeeEvans
March 2nd, 2012, 10:34 PM
Originally Posted by LeeEvans
I think someone is having you on, I don't have an email for Brian Little as he's not someone I'm familiar with. I believe the moon was about 75% last night.
All the best
March 3rd, 2012, 06:42 PM
Hug A Hoodie!
I've just arrived back from seeing the bird and it is in fine fettle indeed. It's perfect plumage-wise, it carries no bling on either leg and it's quite suspicious of human activity. More importantly when it did stray towards us it shunned my mate's sandwiches and swam away! Mind you it was probably full after devouring at least a dozen small fish during the hour we studied it. I'm whacking it onto my British List..... but I'll scribble it off if it lingers into June.