Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Smew....

....and some pics.

Smew. Cliff Raby

It was always good to find the returning drake Smew on the old Dockacres Gravel Pits in the 1990's and although I'm not making accurate claims with dates here I recall my visiting one day in November to find it had done just that. Unfortunately this is all a thing of the past not least because the DGP's are - and have been for some years - now developed into a fishing lake, something which should never have happened in my opinion, but we'll leave the politics there for now. The bird is now regarded to be nationally in decline and in our recording area sightings are certainly few.

Smew. Pete Woodruff.

In 2009 just one bird was at Leighton Moss for two days in February, and in 2010 I recall only seeing one record on Freeman's Pools for a period, and the picture above is of this 'redhead' individual.

The Smew is a relatively short distance migrant with a breeding range extending from N.Sweden and Finland through Siberia to Kamchatka. The majority of the breeding population is to be found predominantly in European Russia with an estimated up to 15,000 pairs. N.W.Europe is thought to hold a wintering population of 15,000 pairs with up to 10,000 of these in the Netherlands. Only small numbers reach Britain during the winter, most of which occur in Southeast England and East Anglia, the bird is scarce in Wales and Scotland, and very scarce in Ireland. Adult male Smews are far outnumbered by female and 1st winter birds known as 'redheads' which make up more than 70% of all records.

And finally....

Greenfinch. David Cookson 

I can't resist this image of the Greenfinch, a bird seriously declined over the past couple of years. One day I'm going to 'dig out' my record to give a precise date of c.200 seen in the Silverdale area with my old friend and mentor John Leedal probably something like 25 years ago. Today you can claim an excellent record if you find a double figure flock.

Brambling. David Cookson

Nor could I resisit this image of the Brambling, a winter visitor to our area in variable numbers. Thanks for these DC, and to CR for his photograph of the smart drake Smew at the top of this post. 


Pete Marsh said...

The reason the old Dockacres was so good for wildfowl in the early 1990s was the vast amount of grain put in there by the BASC-affiliated shooting syndicate. Shooting didnt seem to bother Smew!

Greenfinches are on the up again. Following good productivity, record numbers were ringed at Heysham Obs last autumn (= the highest annual ringing total in 30 years history) with, as you implied, a disproportionate percentage of 1CY birds

Pete Woodruff said...

Thanks for this Pete, you will have checked your 'inbox' by now.