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Thursday, 1 March 2012

HOODED MERGANSER of unknown origin in Kent

Female-type Hooded Merganser at Whetsted GP today (Graeme Leckie)

I made the effort and went and saw this bird today - it was showing well on the left hand gravel pit at Whetsted GP. It seems to be a first-winter female, with little noticeable white in the coverts and rather restricted white in the tertials; the eye is dull orange-brown, the upperparts dark chocolate-brown and the crest long, shaggy and auburn coloured. The bill is extensively yellow on the lower mandible.

The bird is not that approachable, diving almost continuously and staying at around 80 yards distance. It is feeding naturally, often, is fully-winged and appears to be unringed. The habitat and location is typical for the species and full of an assortment of wildfowl, including Smew, Tufted Duck and Northern Pochard


Park in Five Oak Green village sensibly and courteously and walk towards the bridge in Whetsted Road and continue towards Moat Farm. Continue for 250 yards to the farm and skirt around to the right, always keeping to the farm buildings immediately to your left. Follow footpaths 158 & 159 and after the farm, continue 300 yards across open farmland towards the lefthand edge of the distant trees, the three gravel pits then becoming apparent. The bird is on the largest pit to the left of the causeway.

Lee Evans