February 6, 2011;
Since the autumn there have been intermittent reports of Smew, both male and female/juvenile, being sighted on the Ribble in the vicinity of the Reserve or roosting on a nearby reservoir. Just before the end of the year a bird spent several days on the icy river below the M6 bridge (see earlier posting for December 29) whilst during this past week up to three birds (including one drake) were seen on the river above the weir. They would therefore seem to be wintering in the area but are very elusive and probably under-recorded since upstream from the reserve the river has virtually no public access over a 7-kilometre stretch.
In today's appalling weather (wet, dark, and with near gale-force winds) a female/juvenile Smew was on No.1 pool, consorting with at least ten Pochard and a similar number of Goldeneye. Watched for a while before being defeated by the weather, it could be seen preening and occasionally diving whilst riding out the semi-gale.
[Preening, two photos above]
A few very indifferent photos (above) were taken at long range in very poor light and through a constantly vibrating scope. Under the circumstances it was fortunate that any recognisable images were obtained.