Sunday, 12 January 2014


Of the four decent birds currently at Ice Station Draycote I have been able to get some shots of the Great Northern Diver,the Smew and some poor ones of the Long-tailed Duck but the Red Breasted Mergansers have eluded me completely.So when I saw that Saturday morning would be sunny I set off pretty early to see if I could get some shots of them.

The big trouble for me was that the Red Breasted Mergansers had been favouring the water from the Inlet to the Valve Tower and this is a hell of a long walk for me these days.These old legs that half a century ago were bursting through defences and scoring fantastic goals now struggle to handle long walks.

Before I rabbit on about my epic trek I was very pleased the day before to get my first shot this winter of a Lesser Redpoll that visited my back garden very briefly. 

Got to the Ice Station at 9.00 AM and set off to Draycote Bank heavily layered against the cold.I walked via the Yacht club and was a bit dismayed to see that numerous boats were being readied for action so I'd better find the Mergansers quickly.

I didn't see anything to point the camera at until I got the other side of the inlet where there were several Goosanders which are great birds to photograph.There were only a couple of males and at least a dozen females but more importantly there were no sign of the Mergansers.

I then went to check out the Valve Tower to see if the Mergansers were there but they weren't. Oh Dear !!! Did have some fun down there though a Grey Wagtail led me a merry dance in the rocks but I didn't get a single decent shot.A Little Grebe was being very successful fishing.

 Feeling a bit down I headed back to the Inlet which was where I received text from a friend which told me that the Mergansers had been in Toft but had just flown my way.Damnation !! I had to walk back to the Valve Tower to see if they had flown there.The miles were mounting up.

They weren't at the Valve Tower and they weren't at the Inlet when I walked back there.Just as I was half way to Rainbow corner and was seriously thinking of stiff arming one of the passing cyclists and commandeering their bike so I could give my aching legs some help with the walk back I spotted what I thought initially were another couple of Goosanders. But no I'd found the Mergansers !!!!.Thank God for that.Managed a few shots in difficult very bright conditions as they swum quickly towards the Inlet.

After this I very slowly ambled back to the car park very pleased to slump in the car and have a drink.I think I must have walked at least 5 miles which is the equivalent of 20 miles to most people but a very nice morning's birding.

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