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For previous years (2012-2019) see the links on the Whitlingham Bird List page.

WHITLINGHAM: PATCH TICK 150! Garganey

28th March 2019

I'd not taken my phone to work, but wasn't particularly bothered as I don't get many calls anyway. Arriving home and checking for messages I found a missed call and a message to say there was a pair of Garganey at Whitlingham! My patch nemesis, and if they were still present then my 150th patch bird. After a gibbered explanation (and a reassurance that no, nobody had died) I set off for Whitlingham, cursing the late night shoppers that were adding to the usual rush hour traffic.

The Garganey had been viewed from the east end of the Little Broad, near the pagoda, so I headed straight there and scanned the Little Broad. They were nowhere to be seen. Had they gone to roost, flown off or just moved? I went across to the Great Broad and scanned as much as I could see. Nine Wigeon were present, the temporarily resident drake plus a group of eight near the island, but on this occasion I wasn't impressed. There was no sign of the Garganey.

Moving back to the Little Broad I decided I would give it ten minutes before having to return home to sort our food. Scanning across I noticed two small ducks swimming across the broad. The light was beginning to dim so I got them in the telescope and hoorah, it was indeed the Garganey! I headed to a better vantage point and was about to digiscope myself a record shot when they flew up and after a coupele of laps of the broad they disappeared from view. At one point they appeared to be being chased by a Mallard, but by the second lap they were chasing it. Fortunately for people arriving later they relocated to the Great Broad and were also present on the day after, although often elusive. 

My 150 patch birds has taken a whopping 13 years since my first visit here in 2006, and there are probably ten or so fairly common 'flyovers' that I would hope to add at some point (e.g. Bewicks & Whooper Swans, Curlew, Golden Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Yellow Wagtail, Yellowhammer...). Many thanks to Justin Lansdell who found the birds.

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