This year I’m having my debut in the Birding Bastards competition, so I’m planning on finding a nice selection of rarities! Last Friday – the 13th – Lars Buck, Marijn van Os and yours truly decided to check rafts of duck along the whole western rim of the Ijsselmeer. We had high hopes as it was an excellent day with little wind and clear blue skies!
We kicked off near Durgerdam and drove north along the Ijsselmeerdijk all the way to Den Oever; meticulously checking every large group of duck and geese we encountered…
The cool thing about this route is that you really get to see how important the Ijsselmeer is for wintering ducks. In the sheltered bay west of Marken we counted more than 500 Smews (Nonnetje), in total we counted more than a thousand individuals of this beautiful and rather uncommon duck. Another real treat were the several large rafts (500+) of Greater Scaups (Topper), a diving duck that is rapidly declining everywhere and will be uplisted to vulnerable or worse within the next few years.
Tufted Ducks, by Lars Buckx
Greater Scaups and Tufted Ducks, by Lars Buckx
The real reason we did this ‘out-of-the-box’ round was to find a rarity. However every Scaup we checked was a Greater, every Tufted Duck (Kuifeend) we encountered stayed a Tufted, every Wigeon (Smient) was a Eurasian and all the Pochards (Tafeleend) stayed just normal Pochards, but near Marken we hit the jackpot when suddenly a cracking male Ferruginous Duck (witoogeend) popped up among a small group of Tufted Ducks!
Male Ferruginous Duck, Bingo! by Lars Buckx
The male Ferruginous Duck is easy to pick out among the Tufteds… by Lars Buckx
Ferruginous Duck is not a real vagrant, but still a rare bird and a find that really made our day! Best however is that after this long day we know exactly where the best places are to look for rare ducks, so Lars and Marijn if you guys are up for it we’ll do this round again within the next couple of weeks!