While the ongoing flooding at the rear of Henbury Rise is awful for those bordering the field, it is at least attracting some waterfowl, which may of course be little consolation for those affected.
Together with the Canada Geese, Mallards and Coots this morning, a pair of Shoveller ducks were busy upending themselves and feeding below the surface. From a distance it's easy to mistake these for mallards, but the chestnut side of the male sets them apart, together with the distinctive bill, if you can get a closer look.... This specialised bill allows them to efficiently skim the water for food and gives the duck its name.
However, the interest didn't end there. Two pairs of Goosanders landed at 8-45am and had a quick look around. These are very striking ducks and while they can often be seen on the reservoirs at Macc Forest in small numbers, they are rare in Henbury (unless you know otherwise!). Like the Mallard and Shoveller, males have a dark green head, but their flanks are very white. They also appear much longer in body when on the water. As with the Shoveller, their bill is specialised for their feeding – in the case of the Goosanders it has a serrated edge to help them grip their prey – likely to be wriggly! Therefore, they're sometimes called 'sawbills'. Unfortunately, the Goosanders had left at 9am, but perhaps they'll be back?
It just goes to show that it's always worth keeping an eye out, and to take your binoculars out with you just in case. And don't forget to let Henbury Online know if you do see something interesting!
Simon Browne, Thu Feb 4th 2021