I tend not to go birding at the local patch at Holmethorpe SPs at weekends, as I like to spend the time with my wife Sue, but a phone call from Gordon Hay late this morning to say that Ian Kehl had discovered Holmethorpe's first Ferruginous Duck had me scurrying off to the pits, but not before phoning Johnny Allan at Beddington, as this would be a good addition to his Surrey year list.
Meeting up with Ian and Gordon, we were soon having pretty good views of the duck. Its dark eyes and slightly pale loral patches suggesting it was a female. Ian had got good views of the bill pattern and confirmed that it had only a small black nail to it, all good signs that this bird was not a hybrid.
Soon we were joined by Johnny Allan and Frank Prater and shortly afterwards by Steve Gale. We all got good enough views of the bird, between its dives, to say that it was a female (dark eyes and pale loral patches) and everything about it looked good - head-shape, bill shape and pattern, plumage, etc.
One of the pitfalls with this species is hybridisation with Pochard and some of these hybrids can look very Ferruginous-like, but this bird gives no indication that it is anything but the real thing.
Ian has submitted the record to the Surrey Bird Club records committee and we will have to await their decision.
The 'female' Goldeneye had moved to Mercers Lake and, after much debate amongst the local birders, we now believe that it is, in fact, a first-winter male.
There were still several Gadwall, Shoveler and Teal around and two Common Buzzards were over the local patch in the afternoon.
With several of the regular birders visiting the local patch tomorrow, who knows what we'll discover?