Leaving the house at 7:30 to get a good session of early morning birding, we went down to Moor Green Lakes. Moor Green Lakes was the first reserve I had planned to visit. It was a new site for me, and I had read about its goosanders and juvenile scaup. When we arrived, I took a brisk walk along the footpath towards Colebrook Lake. Here, within seconds I caught sight of my first target species – goosander. Directly in front of the rustic viewing screen a female goosander cruised past. This elegant saw-bill was a wash of auburn browns and oranges contrasting with subtle greys and blacks. After a few seconds of excellent views, the goosander dived underwater and eventually re-surfaced in an area partially obstructed by various branches. I briefly scanned the large lake through my scope and managed to pick up several more. A few minutes later I had managed to achieve a total of seven goosanders – three males and four females. The male goosanders are vibrantly coloured, they sport a dark green head followed by white or sometimes pale salmon-pink breast and body. Males have two thick black streaks down their back and a deep plum-red bill with an obvious hooked tip.
After photographing these elegant birds, I continued the walk alongside the lake heading towards Grove Lake. From the other side of Colebrook, I managed much better views of both the male and female goosander. As I wandered further towards Grove Lake a large group of finches massed at the top of a nearby alder tree, readily they were identified as siskin. These beautiful vibrant finches settled on many of the surrounding hazels where I accumulated some reasonable photographs. This winter, siskins in the area have appeared to be much scarcer than during previous winters, so it was a pleasure to finally watch such a large, noisy flock. Grove Lake was relatively empty however it still contained numerous wildfowl including widgeon and gadwall, as well as a tame little egret hunched over in front of the hide. I took a final check of the lake and carried on to Horseshoe Lake. At the time, Horseshoe Lake was quite empty, so we briskly walked over to the final lake where the juvenile scaup was rumoured to be staying.
Following the guidelines of a local birder for the area we came to what appeared to be a wasteland. Large pieces of machinery had recently been filling in this lake and it was rather barren. Viewing the small group of wildfowl, the juvenile scaup was revealed, its tatty grey flanks and messy back consisting of brown and white scaling gave me the key identification features. Although a juvenile scaup is nondescript it is still very enjoyable to watch and was a great ending to my first trip to Moor Green Lakes. Because this was a rarity I decided to try and acquire some record shots of this bird for future reference, I looked into the camera screen and in the corner of my eye I noticed a raptor gliding past, picking up my binoculars I watched the stunning kestrel hovering effortlessly before returning to a gentle glide on the breeze.