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White-headed Duck at Salthome pools.

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Old Thursday 29th July 2004, 20:31   #1
Dougie Preston
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White-headed Duck at Salthome pools.

Does anyone know if the WH duck is still in North East England?, as I'm going to Norfolk on Saturday and would love to stop off on my way down.
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Old Thursday 29th July 2004, 20:42   #2
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Hi Dougie,

Yes it's still around. In the main it can be found on Saltholme East pond - the one on the chemical works side of the road. It does move around between the various ponds but that is definitely it's favourite. I go down several evenings a week and have never failed to see it. There are usually a good few local birders down there on Saturdays so if you can't see it immediately someone should be able to help out. I'd have popped down but I have other plans for the day hopefully chasing Scotch Argus on the Pennines.

There are 3 - 5 Little Egrets around too if you're interested, but they're very active and can be found anywhere from Greatham Creek area to Dormans Pond (just behind Saltholme East).

Black Tern, Little Gull and a Spotted Redshank are around on Dormans Pond as well, along with almost guaranteed close views of Water Rail from the hide on Dormans - but a member of the bird club would have to be around to let you in.
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Old Thursday 29th July 2004, 21:09   #3
Edward woodwood
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not sure i'm up to speed here but is there any particluar reason this individual hasn't made it onto the news services....or has it?
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Old Thursday 29th July 2004, 21:17   #4
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It's old news Tim. It's been around for several months now and so only occasionally gets reported on the likes of Bird Guides. It's a stonking male with good colour. There are a few photos of it in the Gallery.

I should have said that it seems to favour the area to the left of the road just as you reach the pond travelling from the Fire Station (north) end. There is a drop kerb 80 yards after the pond starts that you can just to say pull onto. It swims up and down 10 - 50 yards out feeding quite regularly early mornings and in the evenings before it gets disturbed.
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Old Friday 30th July 2004, 10:16   #5
tom mckinney
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Hi Ian,

What do the Teesside birders think about this bird? I saw it and I'm yet to tick it for the year and with Stevie Evans clinging to my backside all year I need every tick I can get!

Tom.
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Old Friday 30th July 2004, 10:24   #6
Jasonbirder
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Isn`t this the same bird that was darn `sarf earlier this year/last year
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Old Friday 30th July 2004, 17:17   #7
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Well it has been there for months, it is still very wary of people so I would say it is the genuine thing and not an escapee from someones collection.

I think even one of the big birding magazines came to that conclusion the other month.

So give it a tick.
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Old Friday 30th July 2004, 17:45   #8
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Hi Tom and Jason,

As Marmot says it certainly behaves as if it was a wild bird and most of the birders I meet down there are happy to tick it, though I suppose it's a personal thing. I have ticked it. I think it was either Birdwatch or Birdwatching that made out the case for it being wild. It not ringed, is very wary of people and moves about the area freely.

It is reckoned to be the same bird as was 'darn sath' but I guess no one knows for sure.

Last edited by IanF : Friday 30th July 2004 at 19:44.
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Old Friday 30th July 2004, 18:40   #9
StevieEvans
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Hello.
The drake WHDuck first appeared on North Tees Marshes (Rec Pond) on 30th March this year.

The last recored sighting of the Drake from Broadwater GP, at London was 2 days earlier.....

Almost certainly the same one.

The 29th/30th saw a steady breeze from the South East, the bird appeared in a notable arrival of Ruddy's, along with a pr of BNGrebes to the same pool.

Whilst i agree with its 'wild' credentials whilst being in the North East, i have not counted it as a genuine wild vagrant as i'm sure it is the Broadwater bird.

This London bird spent a long while at its previous location, & as i dont know how long it was there OR where IT came from originaly then its only a 'could be' for me.

If anyone has the Full Story about this bird & it can be prooved without doubt to be a wild vagrant then i'll gladly 'tick it' so i can keep up with Tommy Mac.

An interesting bird to watch regardless of its provenance, especially when it bullies the Drake Ruddies.

Regards Stevie.

PS. (Apparently the Only Way White headed Duck will be Oficially added to the British List is if one is caught with a Spannish ring on its leg......)
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Old Friday 30th July 2004, 20:33   #10
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Whatever the result whether tame or wild . . . Stevie and Tom have both seen it, so whether it is ticked or not doesn't affect the yearlist competition results

Michael
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Old Friday 30th July 2004, 22:01   #11
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Yes Michael Good Point, but...

I saw it before 'im.
& its a County Bird for me.

Plus, ive got some "spares" under my hat......like bridled guillemot, shoddy relduck & me nana's budgie.

SE.
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Old Friday 30th July 2004, 22:43   #12
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See what I mean?

Each to their own.

I visit the ponds quite often as they are on my doorstep and quite frankly the local birders are quite happy to accept it as a wild bird.

If it was appoaching people looking for a free feed then I'd doubt it's wild origins. But it is very wary of people, soon disappearing to the other side of the pond if it spots you, so I'm pretty happy with it being a wild bird.

Despite what Stevie says, it's just too presumptious to me to assume it's the same Broadwater bird. Maybe it is maybe it isn't, but that's no grounds to assume it isn't a vagrant. Both birds could be - certainly as far as the north-east is concerned!

BTW it was still on Saltholme East Pond this evening

Last edited by IanF : Friday 30th July 2004 at 22:46.
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Old Friday 30th July 2004, 23:37   #13
StevieEvans
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Ian

We know you quite often visit the North Tees marshes........but, that doesn't make you an authority on authenticating British White Headed Duck records!

I dont think its presumptious at all to imagine that the Tees bird & the Broadwater bird are one & the same.

Drake disappears after a prolonged stay at one London site..........then..........2 days later one appears on the Rec.

Anyone with an open mind would presume what had most probably happened.

In fact i thought it was common knowledge in the birding community that they are one & the same, indeed my latest Bird Club bulletin (v.late as usual) clearly states this fact.

Strangely...There are not that many records of Drake White Headed Ducks in the UK this year or last year or the year before........


Stevie.
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Old Saturday 31st July 2004, 00:00   #14
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Dougie
Hope you get to see this attractive bird.
Feel free to PM me if you need any reliable & up to date info as regards that area. Keep an eye open for Little Egrets as there are now 5 in the area!
I'll be down before first light as i've just had a message about a Spotted Crake.
SE.
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Old Saturday 31st July 2004, 00:13   #15
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Yet another plastic 'needed' by the twitchers, getting passed-off as a wild bird with the same old "it behaves like a wild bird" justifications.
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Old Saturday 31st July 2004, 07:23   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StevieEvans
Ian

We know you quite often visit the North Tees marshes........but, that doesn't make you an authority on authenticating British White Headed Duck records!

I dont think its presumptious at all to imagine that the Tees bird & the Broadwater bird are one & the same.

Drake disappears after a prolonged stay at one London site..........then..........2 days later one appears on the Rec.

Anyone with an open mind would presume what had most probably happened.

In fact i thought it was common knowledge in the birding community that they are one & the same, indeed my latest Bird Club bulletin (v.late as usual) clearly states this fact.

Strangely...There are not that many records of Drake White Headed Ducks in the UK this year or last year or the year before........


Stevie.
Ouch! I guess I struck a nerve there Stevie.

I wouldn't presume to claim to be an expert on WH Duck records in the UK or much else for that matter.

I do recall that around three or so were reported last year in the UK - obviously not the same bird and more than one were have been reported this year. I'd still say it's very difficult to be 100% certain that it is the same bird from Broadwater, though it's obviously a distinct possibility. Perhaps it would be better to keep at least a partially open mind on the matter?
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Old Saturday 31st July 2004, 10:19   #17
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Chris,

I agree that the "wary" thing is garbage in assessing a birds wild status.

However, there are far more factors that point to this bird being wild...or not as you shall see...

In September of last year a small, but undeniable, influx of White-headed Duck occurred in SE England and the Midlands. (I saw the one at Belvide and that is permanent markered in on my list - regardless of any "official" decision.) This has happened before with Ruddy Shelduck in 1994, but these were considered by the BOU to have been from a feral population in Holland/Belgium (perhaps incorrectly?).

As there are no known feral populations of White-headed Duck anywhere in the world, unless there was a general consensus among wildowl keepers to have a combined "pen opening day", I see no valid argument for the White-headed Ducks in that influx being anything other than wild.

Now the Cleveland bird has to be ticked with a bit of blind faith. For a start is it the Broadwater bird: how can you really be certain?

However the real killer is that the Broadwater bird was present in that area since at least the end of 2002.

So maybe people should stop trying to link the Broadwater bird to this one if they want to add a bit more credibility to it!!!

Tom.

Last edited by tom mckinney : Saturday 31st July 2004 at 10:27. Reason: forgot to mention something rather importante
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Old Saturday 31st July 2004, 11:06   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom mckinney
In September of last year a small, but undeniable, influx of White-headed Duck occurred in SE England and the Midlands.
Ah! So a pair bred in captivity somewhere and the owner wasn't interested in pinioning the offspring.
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Old Saturday 31st July 2004, 11:27   #19
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Ian, I can assure you that no nerves have been struck.
I'd just like the Full & accurate Picture.
What were the ages & sexes of last years 3 ?
How many individuals, of what age & sex, have been reported this year ?
"Partially open mind on the matter..." - mmm, you're the one who's ticked it on its behaviour !!
Theres a subtle difference between a 'tick' & a new addition to the British List!
We've ALL 'ticked' it! that doesnt make it a wild bird.
What will make it a wild bird is if all the appropriate facts are gathered together.
There's no one who'd like to see it accepted more than a keen lister like me (this year anyway) (I set off at 1AM to see the Mongolian Plover, had no sleep saw the bird, then came straight back for a full days physical work. ie i am KEEN to get new birds!)
If i hadnt heard of the Broadwater bird then i'd imagine the Tees one to be a 99% genuine wild one.

Tom.
Your last sentence sounds a bit like " stop discussing the London bird & the Tees one will get wilder...? "
I can imagine that you would know how much i'd like to include it on my list!

#Maybe, if this matter doesn't get sorted, which i doubt it will 100%, then we should set up a Bird Forum British Birds List
Any dubious birds & especially ducks could be put up for a vote by BF Members, the outcome will determine its 'tickability'.
Then there'd be less squabbles & Listers could compare "like with like"

PS the last idea was intended to be serious.

Regards Stevie
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Old Saturday 31st July 2004, 11:39   #20
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Howdy Stevie,

I just think that there is no reason to link the Broadwater bird to this one. It's purely circumstantial so why do it?

The Lesser Sand Plover you saw is a classic example of assumption causing a cock up. There had been a Greater in Norfolk so this bird has to be a Greater - surely a Lesser couldn't turn up as well???

The reason people have linked the two, I think, is that it may be likely that the BOU will put WHD on the Brit list on the strength of that mini invasion. Lots of people have incorrectly assumed that the Broadwater bird was part of that mini invasion - I believe the Broadwater bird to be an escape (I'm prepared to be hung for saying that) as there is no wild credibility to it whatsoever.

Therefore, knowing these incorrect facts about the Broadwater bird, it seems better to link the Broadwater & Saltholme birds - which many people are doing.

What I say is take all the concrete facts (ignore the circumstantial crap) and assess the Saltholme bird on the grounds of those.

Tom.

Last edited by tom mckinney : Saturday 31st July 2004 at 11:44.
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Old Saturday 31st July 2004, 11:54   #21
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Isn`t it considered likely that this bird (which was previously present at Broadwater - any other explanation is very unrealistic) is the same adult male which arrived in June 2002 (I remember dashing for that bird after work - wasn`t really any hurry was there!) was then seen at a couple of East Midlands sites, then at Shardloes lake, Bucks before turning up in the London area?

This particular bird arrived in Britain during a period of extremely hot and dry weather over Britain and Europe - the possible explanation being that the Spanish White-headed Ducks are dispersive rather than migratory and their moves are related to dry/hot conditions.

Length of stay is absolutely no indicator either way of a bird records credibilty - look at the old Uist Stellers Eider or any of the current Scottish King Eiders or Surf Scoters for proof of that - something that would also tie in nicely with the birds dispersive rather than migratory tendancies.
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Old Saturday 31st July 2004, 12:00   #22
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oh the old chestnuts are the best....

can be summed up like this: unless it's got a ring on you will never know for sure....all else is speculation.

I remember the one near me at Hardley Flood, Norfolk....loads of people went for it - if it was gen then it was the only duck on that water that didn't look like it had come out of a farmyard! Which means nothing of course......

Have any WHD that have occurred in UK got decent credentials for acceptance? Probably not....Spanish pop is very small...do the eastern birds from Turkey have a reputation for moving west into Europe - any ringing recoveries?
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Old Saturday 31st July 2004, 12:13   #23
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The small influx into the UK in Autumn 2003 coincided exactly with a similar small influx of birds into Northern Spain, Southern France, Southern Germany etc....

So unless the argument is that across Europe - but only in locations which would give the creduluous reason to believe the birds might have Spanish origin though, small numbers of White-headed Ducks simultaneously escape from captivity - but not just unpinioned juveniles mind, a mix of juveniles and adult birds - and coincidently the timing of this geographically dispersed "mass breakout" coincides exactly with the timings of the wild Spanish birds annual post-breeding dispersal then the birds which pitched into Britain, France, Spain etc are wild White-headed Ducks from the Spanish Population, their usual and annual dispersal perhaps being more nomadic than usual because of the well publicised heatwave which affected France and Southern Europe at that time.

Make a judgement - which seems more likely?

What that says for the current bird is a different question - there are pro`s and cons for it - but pure common sense says that last years birds were overwhelmingly likely to be wild in origin.
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Old Saturday 31st July 2004, 12:27   #24
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Hi Jason,
looks like there could be a case made there. Seems quite convincing to me. Unfortunately we don't know the full picture and this will probably disuade BOURC from accepting one. To play devil's advocate for once....

problem is ducks get out regularly and are only selectively reported in bird reports and these figures are often used unscientifically. Remember the stats used in BW recently with regard to Cinnamon Teal? I remember a BF member wrote to say he had recorded (what he considered escapes from somewhere nearby) Cinnamon Teals in his local area a few times.....these birds for example never made the stats. Only needs one of those to go wandering and turn up somewhere west coast and hey presto! It's a wild bird.....did birds appear in other countries but not get reported? Very hard to know! How many are kept in North European countries? Were those in France etc taken more seriosly/focussed on because they give weight to the theory? Is there a historical precedent? The small population makes it a little suprising too....

So many unknowns make it hard for BOURC to make a decision. And it's very difficult to backtrack once one has been made.

For what it's worth I think i agree with you....!
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Old Saturday 31st July 2004, 19:15   #25
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Ah! Tim I was just about to mention the Cinnamon Teal. I guess serious tickers wouldn't like my list at all. I have Cinnamon Teal on mine from when one turned up last year by Ovingham, Co. Durham on a lake miles from anywhere - well the A66 runs alongside it. It kept moving between two ponds and stayed for several weeks.

It was living wild so I added it to my personal list. I even have Barheaded Goose as well

A birder watchers list is a personal thing. I agree though that for a serious list everyone has to work to the same standard and what is judged to be on the British List. Birds like the White Headed Duck on Saltholme will always be contenscious.

I don't have a problem with such things.
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