Yesterday after attending to some business in Middlesbrough we stopped at Saltholme for an hour.
The warden in the visitors centre told me that the Hooded Merganser was on the pool outside the visitors centre but was proving difficult to see.
I was surprised when the first thing that I saw when looking through one of the scopes on display, was the female Hooded Merganser – Lifer, preening itself on the edge of a small island in the water.
It stayed on the edge of the island preening for a further five minutes before disappearing back into the water where it frequently dived and proved why it was so difficult to find.
I also noticed that it was smaller than a Red Breasted Merganser when it swam along side a Tufted Duck, which seemed to be a similar size.
Before it went back into the water I got a good view of its impressive all white stomach and orange bill, which stood out a lot more than photos would suggest.
Normally I would be more sceptical of a bird such as a Hooded Merganser but this bird seems like a genuine rarity to me.
No rings, full wings and not coming to bread are all good enough signs of a genuine bird for me and the fact that it appeared on the night that a hurricane had just finished passing over England from America make it seem all the more possible.
The warden at the visitors centre also said that Washington Wild Fowl Park, (the nearest know keepers of Hooded Merganser) are not missing any birds.
Whilst doing some research on the distribution of Hooded Merganser I was encouraged when I found that the eastern American population can be found from south Canada right down to the Gulf Coast.
It's staying on my list until proven to be an escapee, at least it isn't a Bar Headed Goose I am worrying about.
Also I am sure if somebody was going to keep a Hooded Merganser as a pet then the male would be a much more popular choice.
On the way home I checked Arcot Pond. With nothing on the pond I was about to leave when a Willow Tit- Patch Tick, called twice from the southwest corner of the pond where a Tit flock had just flown towards.
110 – Willow Tit