Smew Pair at Decoy Hide

February 12, 2013  •  5 Comments

For the last few weeks there has been a pair of smew visible from Decoy Hide at Shapwick Heath NNR on the Somerset Levels.  More recently, a second redhead smew has been on the same lake but rather more mobile.  I was lucky enough to catch up with the pair this morning on a pretty grim dark winter's morning.  They confined themselves to the stretch of water in front of the hide but usually well off to the left hand side.  At one point after a long dive, the drake came up wearing a broad sash of brown weed which he continued to wear for the next 15 minutes.  They are obviously very much in love at the moment (suitably close to Valentine's Day), indulging in much chest puffing and courtship behaviour and I observed them to mate on one occasion.  Unfortunately they are not so wrapped up in each other that they have become unaware of their surroundings and they were very nervous when they heard voices from the path and flew off when more people arrived at the hide (fortunately not for long). Well worth a visit and I may try again when the light is more favourable.

Technical Note:  Here are some pictures taken this morning at high ISO (up to 1600) and lowish shutter speeds.  They are all cropped at least 50% before being resized for web presentation and all required noise reduction.

Smew at Shapwick Heath NNR 1 Smew at Shapwick Heath NNR 3Smew - Mergus albellus Smew at Shapwick Heath NNR 5Smew - Mergus albellus Smew at Shapwick Heath NNR 4Smew - Mergus albellus Smew at Shapwick Heath NNR 6Smew - Mergus albellus


Comments

WildImaging
Thanks Martin. Sorry you missed them. Apparently they are still around but quite easily spooked.
martin cox(non-registered)
great photos , i did go up there about 2 weeks ago from exeter , after seeing the hawfiches , but no sign , so thank you for putting these up
WildImaging
Thank you Sue and John.
Sue Wright(non-registered)
Superb shots of such delightful birds, Tim! Hubby and I went out to see them, they were at the pool on the right for a while, then flew across, but.....stayed behind the reeds instead of drifting through like the Goldeneye did! All in the day's birding. Good views of the PB Grebe though so can't grumble!

Lovely shots, really they are.
John Crabb(non-registered)
Lovely. I especially like the flight shots - the one with the water splashes above all.
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