Two work lunchtime trips out followed the Waxwing twitch, both to Whitlingham, which seems to be on top form at the moment.
On 13th, we fought our way through the hordes of other birders* and found a spot on the bank where we quickly located the monster Great Northern Diver right in front of us. A redhead Smew was nearby and a female Ruddy Duck.
Our second visit, on Monday this week, revealed a fine Red-necked Grebe and even higher numbers of birders. An interesting Aythya was present which seems to be being reported as a 1w Scaup. To me, the bird looks like a hybrid. It has a wrong headshape, with quite a sloping forehead. The bill is smallish, with a white subterminal band and a fair bit of black on the tip. The bird generally was still very brown. Most 1w m Scaups I have seen recently are much more advanced than this bird, though Im not sure about the significance of this.
Some good quotes today:
"Have you got the Red-necked? You will have to put me on it, as I don't know what they look like".
"Do they have crests like Great Crested Grebes? No? Well, do they have red necks then?"
"Is this the Smew or the Ruddy Duck?"
* in the loosest sense of the word