Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Savouring Salacious Sawbills

Smew 2 (male and female)
Goosander 2 (male and female)
Red-breasted Merganser 3 (male and 2 females)
Goldeneye 50
Pink-footed Goose 150 flew over

Year 147 (Smew)

The air was completely still, and a light mist rolled over Derwentwater, its mirror like surface disturbed only by the occasional gentle ripples of diving ducks searching for food. It was dawn, and in these conditions my hearing was enhanced, with the early spring song of Robins and Wrens seemingly amplified in the woods, and even the gentle calls of Goldcrests and Treecreepers seeming louder than normal. In the distance  I could hear the calls of Goldeneye, and watched as the drakes threw back their heads in display to their females. An idyllic, romantic scene perhaps, in the heart of the beautiful Cumbrian mountains, yet all was not quite as it seemed, and this was actually a story of betrayal, rejection and forbidden love.

I'm not sure that I've ever seen all three species of sawbill on the same lake before, and it was great to see males and females of each species. I choose my words carefully, and do not say "pairs of each species", because whilst the mergansers and Goosanders were clearly paired up, the male and female Smew, were not, and kept a good 200m apart. Perhaps they'd had a row. If so, the drake had already moved on, plenty more fish in the sea as they say, because he now seemed to be paired with a female Goldeneye. Not only did he follow her around, he also chased off drake Goldeneye and at one point even joined in with a group of drakes that were displaying. I suspect he was trying to make the female Smew jealous!

Below are a few images of Derwentwater this morning.

The mountain in the background is Skiddaw.

Spot the Smew! I'm not sure that the people in the Derwentwater ferry knew anything about it, but they passed close enough for a decent view.

I'm trying to hide the fact that I haven't got a decent photo of the Smew by showing all of these quirky photos. Here it is in the wake of the boat! A much more interesting photo than simply a close up of the bird, I'm sure you must agree.... Make the most of it, this was my first drake Smew for 17 years!

A sawbill that did perform, a drake Goosander.

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