Dr. Livingstone moment at Danson as early Shoveler plays tricks on the mind

Yesterday’s trip to Danson Park (Sept 18th) was prompted both by news of baby Newts trying to exit the Old English Garden pond (see separate post) and also Ian Stewart’s London Bird Club wiki report of a pair of Gadwall here on 15th September.

Gadwall (Anas strepera) (Photo: Ralph Todd)

Gadwall (Anas strepera). A pair are currently to be seen on Danson Park lake. (Photo: Ralph Todd)

The Gadwall, a species familiar down on the Thames at Crossness, but only very occasional at Danson, were both still there. A slightly different duck was preening on a log, but I could only get a three-quarter rear view in indifferent light. The plumage was a bit odd and the bill looked Shoveler-like.  I turned away for a minute or two, and when I trained my bins back on that spot a male Mallard was there, with no sign of any possible Shoveler. I convinced myself my mind had been playing tricks and moved on, occasionally looking back down the lake but with no suspect in sight.

A Little Grebe was seen, and there were 8 Cormorants on the island trees.

A person cycling towards me on the lakeside path looked vaguely familiar, and maybe interested in what I was doing, but as I didn’t recognise them I was avoiding eye contact. ‘Chris Rose, I presume? (or words to that effect), he said. It was Ian Stewart who I’ve never met before, but who provides numerous bird and new Dragonfly site records in the Borough. He was out again trying to maintain his 50-or-more species a day ‘patch list’ record.

Dusk was coming on and large numbers of Ring-necked Parakeets were gathering in trees on the south side of the lake, in preparation for flying over to the roost Poplars. Ian wanted to get on, and as we still haven’t sorted out where all the RNP’s from the south are emanating from, I went outside the park. By now I had missed the main movement, but it seemed that stragglers were only coming in from the south and south-south-east by this time.

When I came back Ian was coming along the dam wall to complete his lap, and pointed out a Kingfisher on the frame of one of the kayak polo nets. Earlier he had drawn my attention to a Yellow-legged Gull, something currently beyond the limits of my bird ID skills. And he had seen the Shoveler, which was an eclipse male. This is unusually early for this species at Danson, as in my experience it tends to only show up – certainly in any numbers – in cold winter weather.

Chris Rose

This entry was posted in Bird watching, Danson Park, Parks, Recording. Bookmark the permalink.