Wednesday, 29 December 2010
Smew on the Ribble near the M6 bridge
December 29, 2010:
Much of yesterday's daylight was taken up attempting to locate the female Smew reported earlier on the Ribble near Brockholes Wetlands. It proved to be a very elusive bird and readily flushed but was eventually found late in the afternoon near the north bank of the river just downstream from the bridge. Failing light and heavy drizzle meant that any attempt at photography was hopeless. However, returning this morning in better conditions and light, the bird was still in the same place, diving and feeding around and amongst a huge mass of blocks of floating river ice.
Soon afterwards it climbed onto one of the ice floes to rest and preen. Although the light was still poor, its reddish head and faint crest could be seen.
It was accompanied for part of the time by a juvenile Goldeneye, although the latter usually kept some distance from the ice.
Eventually the Smew crossed to the south side of the river where it continued to dive. Presumably there was another good food source there. On the whole though, it favoured the ice-choked part of the river when diving.
Several other Goldeneye and Goosander were on the river which at times was partly covered by floating ice. Being a sub-Arctic bird, presumably the Smew felt quite at home here.
[The ice-choked part of the river favoured by the Smew. It can be seen (very small dark object) on the edge of the ice in the centre of the photo]