Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Pochard.

Today the Pochard is on the European Red List of Vulnerable Birds, in our recording area it's status is no better than uncommon, and its decline in Lancashire shows no sign of stopping. 

Drake Pochard. Jan Larsson @ Vingspann 

My only records of the Pochard in 2015 were a drake found on Conder Pool - much to my surprise - on 6 February, and two drakes on Blea Tarn Reservoir on 4 November. My best record on the canal basin at Glasson Dock, was of four drakes on 20 January 2014 where winter Pochard could often be seen, but according to my records not since, until I found a drake recently on Monday 18 January. 

I remember making a comment a few years ago to John Bateman, that the Pochard we see in winter always seem to be biased towards the drake, and certainly were with the canal basin birds at Glasson Dock when we saw them there. 

Female Pochard. Kane Brides. 

It is well known that many wintering duck flocks exhibit considerable differences in overall sex ratio, that the male is dominant over the female, and that a greater proportion of the males are found further north. There is an ongoing national decline of the Pochard, and an assessment is being undertaken to collect ratio data which can provide useful information on the population structure of ducks.

Records like the 615 Pochard seen at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve 20 years ago in October 1995, and the 460 Pochard seen at Dockacres in Lancashire 10 years later in October 2005 have been consigned to the history books.

Interesting that 10 Pochard were on Fairhaven Lake, Lytham St Annes yesterday 1 February, were all drakes.

Talking of excellent past records....

Red-breasted Merganser Phil Woollen

Whilst searching through my records for the Pochard, I found one of 50 Red-breasted Merganser which I saw off Sandylands at Morecambe 24 years ago on 21 January 1992, and another of 120 Great-crested Grebe seen off the Stone Jetty also at Morecambe on 14 November 1992. An example of a peak count of the Great-crested Grebe in our recording area today was in a monthly WeBs count of 26 in November 2014. On the excellent records theme, 10 Blackbird were together in our small urban garden in Lancaster last week. 

Thanks to Jan for the drake Pochard, to Kane for the female, and to Phil for the Red-breasted Mergansers....Excellent on all counts.

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