Ring-necked Duck at Bray – 23rd Dec

It’s a low-key state of affairs when county year listing becomes the best available motivation. So after more than four weeks without national action, news on RBA of a drake Ring-necked Duck in nearby Berkshire suggested an agreeable twitchette as well as a good way to fill a short winter’s day. I had seen this American species once before in 2010 but quite distantly. Today’s bird was on a gravel pit between the millionaire’s row village of Bray and the M4 motorway. As I followed a public bridleway to the stated location, CCTV notices on every fence and gateway projected the property complexes of the wealthy residents. Eventually a none too welcoming gate to one side (pictured below) gave access to the private angling pit where the duck had been reported. DSC_0019 A permissive path led around the security fenced site but there were few clear vantage points from which to scan the numbers of wildfowl present. I was nonetheless indulging more than my usual patience on a path close by the M4 when four birders from Reading walked up saying they had located the bird. I followed them to where they were heading then thankfully picked out the RND myself before anyone put me on it, which is always more satisfying. This duck’s grey flank and white spur stood out prominently amongst the flock of Tufted Duck with which it was associating, but it was dozing with it’s head turned away from me. I walked back along the path to try for a better view but without success.

News having gone out on RBA, when I returned to the first spot some well-known twitchers and a genial big lens photographer were on the RND, that was now swimming with it’s head up and showing all its diagnostic features well. As always I make no apologies for the quality of the record shot (below), this was how I saw the bird. Eventually something spooked the flock and they all went up.

Drake Ring-necked (right) and Tufted Ducks

Drake Ring-necked (right) and Tufted Ducks

So this was mission accomplished and a far better view of Ring-necked Duck than first time around. With the shortest daylight hours of the year to negotiate at present and one thing or another, I had not felt on top form when heading out this morning. Now I was returning home with a greater sense of well being, and that for me is what being into wildlife is all about.

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