Pochard, Portishead


Three days ago, after the black redstart, the Boating Lake had a dozen of these ducks right on the perimeter, almost under my feet, just begging for a super crisp shot. Today, only two, one of which ventured about close enough to salvage this picture out of a handful.

Of the Aythya genus, which allies it with the more common tufted duck and distinctly uncommon scaup, the pochard does breed in Britain, but not in great numbers. However, thousands of European birds join them for the winter, so this is the best time to see them. Oddly, the red-crested pochard is not in the same genus, being the European representative of Netta. It is not a British species but we do have feral populations – yet another dodgy duck!

On the Severn shore, next to the Lake, a lone oystercatcher was my first for Portishead and hence the car-free list. That, and an earlier bullfinch – also new for the town – took me up to 64, only ten short of 2006’s foot-powered tally at Auchmithie. And well in sight of my personal best in 1997 at Upton Warren. It’s easy, this walking business.

Portbury Wharf, N Somerset

Big rain is forecast tomorrow and I may not get out into Ashlands, aka Portbury Wharf, to keep the momentum going. So, here’s a picture of its saltmarsh with the Dock in the background. Can you see the short-eared owl? No? Well, there has been one. I live in hope.

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