My Smew record leaves a lot to be desired, so what made me decided to try for the Smew at Pugney's, a solid £12 in public transport fares is beyond me. Obviously though having never been there before I was keen to check out the site and see what was going down. It took me a solid 2.5 hours to get there, and no sooner did I arrive than did the heavens open.
My internet research had found no information on where the Smew was located on the reserve, so I decided to check out the nature reserve section first, it seemed like the logical place to start. There was plenty of stuff on the pool, and the hide offered some degree of protection from the elements, though the hide had a tin roof, so the rain made quite a din.
So here is my list of birds seen from the hide, the top 6 are year ticks this year:
-Kingfisher, brief view but still awesome to see
-Great Crested Grebe
-Black Headed Gull
-Lesser-Black Backed Gull
-Birds on the Nature Reserve
Sadly though no sign of Smew. After a good hour in the hide I decided to move on and see what else was about on the site. I decided to make my way round the main lake to get to the top lake to see if it was up there. The main lake was sparse on birdlife, but still had some good stuff
-Black Headed Gull
Some good birds but by now I had all but given up on the Smew, making it my 5th Smew related dip in a row. I made it to the top pool in terrible conditions. There were plenty of birds here, including another year tick: Gadwall
-Grey Heron - Fishing
And that seemed to be that. However, all Smew hope was not lost, for though my research had been futile I had read somewhere that it was on the river, twitter or somewhere like that, so that was where I made my last stop, useful since it goes alongside the top pool. There were a few Goldeneye quite close on the river, so I took a few shots to fill out this rather wordy post
But then, under the bridge I spotted a small white bird in the water. Could it be or was it another Gull, I raised my bins, water on the lens made identification inconclusive. I got closer, raised the bins again, still only a white speck, but now seemed very hopeful, I got closer again and yes, there it was. A stunning drake Smew, finally setting the record straight.
I was able to get as stunning view through the scope and get a few record shots. I watched it for about 5 mins before decided to get a bit closer, nearer the road bridge. I got to the bridge but the bird had gone, and despite my best efforts I failed to re-locate it.
That left the sighting a tad bittersweet, A stunning bird, but I would rather have been able to watch it for longer and really appreciate its beauty, but it was not to be. I managed some record shots and got a stunning view through the scope, but my Smew tick will now forever be known as 'the five minuet Smew'!
-Stunning Drake Smew
Overall it was a really good day, and great to see the Smew, even if it was brief