WE WERE surprised to see so many Mallards, about 50 of them, in the wood at Newmillerdam this afternoon, feeding under beech trees on the slope above the eastern shore of the lake. It has evidently been a good year for beechmast.
And talking of water-birds in uncharacteristic places, we passed a moorhen, pecking at the turf of the grass verge on the double-bend by the Black Bull at Midgley. I imagine that there must be a pond hidden away somewhere nearby.
That was on Saturday and on Saturday morning, before breakfast, I had the best bird tick that I’ve ever had while sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea; four goosanders flew across our street, heading towards the Calder.
Although they were a hundred yards or more away, the low morning sun picked out the blocky ‘black and white’ pattern on their underwings. My first thought, even though I knew it was wrong, was Shelduck but a quick look through the book proved that the goosander is the only duck with the white wing-square that I’d seen. Other ducks tend to have streaks or bands of white running along the wing. Even its close relative the Red-breasted Merganser differs slightly by having the white wing-square divided by black line.