A pair of Common Scoter lingered on one of the hyper-flooded Natterjack pools in Ainsdale Local Nature Reserve this morning – a totally tranquil interlude as I watched them.
Point blank views of a species usually seen in the thousands, but at scope-range offshore, black puddings scudding along the horizon.
Scoters occasionally visit the flooded slacks in winter, generally when they are unwell or exhausted, but the male of this pair was chipper, bold even and quite unintimidated as I slid down a dune to get closer to the fenced pool (Slack 169e to Natterjack surveyors, “the big one that has Red Veined Darter some years” to dragonfly freaks).
The drake was fearless and kept his position on the water.
Closer inspection of his partner revealed she had sustained an injury on her undercarriage visible as she rested on the bank.
It was clear that the male was going nowhere.
I’m not prone to sentimentality, but I was touched by the way he stuck by her, patrolling the flat calm pool while she rested.
I watched them for 20 minutes, videoing the male and papping the bird to bits. You can watch a video clip of him on YouTube here.
I don’t know much about the strength of pair bonding in scoters (Clarko?) but his dedication was impressive and I really didn’t relish checking whether the female needed rescuing/putting out of its misery.
This is not something I usually do as injured birds are dinner for other dune species, and I’ve always been more eco-system than Disney.
Are Aquafoxes a thing?
Luckily the female slipped off the bank into the water to join her mate when I got to within a few feet and the pair steamed about happily.
Relieved, I watched them a while longer before they flew off strongly to the south east, uttering those superb piping calls so beloved by noc-miggers.
Great encounter and the drake was, without doubt, a prince among wildfowl, astrakhan head and all.