Drake American Wigeon thanks to Paul Baker.
A drake American Wigeon was found at Cockersands yesterday and I'm grateful to the caller/finder to my mobile to alert me of this, a clear case of 'not necessarily what you know but who you know'. The bird has had no mention today which makes me feel a little better as I've had no opportunity to visit Cockersands since last Tuesday and in all probability won't do so until Monday and no guarantee to that either.
The American Wigeon is one of the most frequently recorded Nearctic ducks in Britain today, it breeds across North America and moves in winter to the Atlantic coasts, the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico. Its first known mention in this country was in the winter of 1837/8 when a bird was purchased from a market in London, the second record was 57 years later in 1895 and was again a purchase from a game stall on a market in Leeds. As with lots of vagrant wildfowl recorded in the UK some will have been escapes, but there have been ringing recoveries including three from New Brunswick in Canada.
A red-head Smew recently and found again today on Freeman's Pools was a very welcome bird following the species absence from the area since 2005 when a red-head was at Hawes Water in Silverdale, but gone are the days when a drake returned each winter for something like a decade to the then Dockacres/Pine lake area. A maximum count of 109 across the UK in February 2008 was lower than the previous 5 year average probably due to the trend of milder winters and a shift in distribution towards the NE of the wintering range.
The link to SIGN THE PETITION on the BirdLife Malta website is now in the left hand sidebar on Birds2blog and I'm sincerely hoping each and every visitor is going to sign to help make a difference to this tragic situation which is in breach of the EU Directive. I'm desperately trying very hard to steer clear of any controversial comments/opinions I make on this blog in keeping with a policy I have so far maintained in this regard, but whether or not I succeed remains to be seen.