I assisted Ed with the wildfowl count today and it was plain that there have been some recent arrival of extra birds over the last week or so. Overall numbers are still quite low, we saw just over 2600 birds in all, but they are picking up. Ed saw 2 pintail and numbers of wigeon were up generally, although gadwall remain quite scarce and some of the shoveler actually seem to have left since last month. There were a few highlights along the way, including the return of the ferruginous duck, as in previous years it was on the hardest of all the lakes to view, Kingfisher Lake. I think I have observed before that although the bird has all the plumage features of a drake ferruginous duck the overall structure looks a little robust to me, the neck a bit thick, the head shape rather round and large as is the bill. I am not sufficiently familiar with the species to know how much they vary, but is it a lot less delicate looking than some others I have seen.
The duck was not the highlight of my counting day though, this was not actually a bird at all, but a mammal. As I parked at Ibsley Bridge to walk over to Ibsley and Mockbeggar North Lakes I spotted a line of bubbles in the river, it was an otter!
It was a dog otter, diving close to the bank and catching lots of small items, I think it was hunting and finding signal crawfish, but I cannot be sure as I could never see exactly what was being eaten. I know there are a good few otter on the River Avon, but actually seeing them from the public highway is not always that easy.
Other notable birds were the great white egret, which was again on Mockbeggar Lake, along with 5 mandarin duck. On Ibsley Water 4 goldeneye, including one adult drake and single common and green sandpipers. Oh, and the Franklin’s gull was reported gain at the end of the day. All in all a pretty good day.