Today I decided to have a pop at the Yankee wigeon that’s been at Angler’s for a wee while. So after letting Ken, my birding buddy, know I was on the way it was offski down the M1. First stop Pugney’s Country Park to try for the long tailed duck, which neither of us could find. The low sun didn’t help as it made a good part of the lake unviewable. After a short period of scanning the lake, we both felt that getting out of the wind was more important than a bundle of feathers. According to the car thermometer it never went below freezing all morning but it was like the Arctic at Pugney’s. Oh and the parking meters were shrouded in black bin liners so we didn’t pay, whoop di do.
The trip from Pugney’s to Angler’s should only take a matter of a few minutes, but thanks to the rubbish map that I had printed from Google Maps and my OS Map being for that part of Wakefield to the North of the city, we wandered around for almost an hour. Ryhill, Crofton, Fitzwilliam, Walton all quite near the place I know but which perishing road do you take? We circled the place, stalking it until at last we found a sign that pointed us in the right direction. The road up to the car park was a welcome sight but only a hundred yards or so before the park the tyres found a patch of ice and the car took a dive sideways, visions of ditches and damaged panels went through my head but the ice patch was small and the tyres found grip before any collision happened.
The visitor centre was closed for a staff meeting, b-b-bother, at that moment I’d have killed for a cup of hot coffee. Anyway we ambled off down to the hides.
Pol Hide was almost devoid of life, a single solitary reed bunting being the only thing about.
The Main Hide did offer up more birds to look at, coot, pochard, wigeon, moorhen and goosander to name just a few. The Yankee wigeon wasn’t immediately obvious and we scanned the lake for some ten minutes or so, until one of the guys in the hide got onto it. His directions were pretty good and I got on to it almost immediately, Ken needed a quick peep through the guy’s scope to get his bearings. So we both scored the bird, year tick for both of us but more importantly for Ken it was a Yorkshire tick. He’s slowly catching me up, I think I’m only about 30 species in front of him.
I scanned the lake for the scaup that had been reported but couldn’t locate it, and I also kept finding smew that turned into great crested grebes so decided to have another look at the Yankee bird. Several scans of the lake later and it was nowhere to be seen, I’d not noticed any birds leaving so was wondering where it had gone when another chap found it on the bank across the water feeding, mixed in with a flock of European wigeon. What a flipping job it was finding the bird in the flock. You had to wait until it lifted it’s head, see the pale spot and work out which way it was heading, then try and keep on it until it lifted it’s head again. By 1.00pm the cold was working it’s wicked way with us so we headed back to the car, warmth and the journey home. This time as I knew where I was going, we made good time.
Species count for the day =39, pathetic I know.