Sunday 22 December 2019

Ring-necked Duck in Osaka

If I couldn't be bothered to go for a couple of Baer's Pochards in Osaka last week, why did I make the effort for a Ring-necked Duck this week you may well ask. I certainly asked myself. I suppose it comes down to how many of each I've seen, and even though Baer's is a far greater rarity in global terms, this Ring-necked was only the third I've seen in Japan. One of those birds, though seen on two occasions a year apart, was viewed through blizzard conditions on each of those occasions. The other was a totally unexpected find as I was scanning a duck flock trying to re-locate two Baer's x Common Pochard hybrids I'd found on my previous visit to that stretch of the Yodogawa in Osaka. It didn't stick and I never heard of it being relocated anywhere else, a one day wonder Ring-necked Duck is a rarity in its own right.

So a Ring-necked Duck on a park lake had to be a piece of cake, right? A golden opportunity to get good views at last... and as things turned out it was one of those occasions when reality shamed expectation. I still haven't seen a male though; that's for another day.

I arrived at 8am and after a quick scan revealed no photographers, I thought the duck may have moved to a different pond. Shock: I'd have to look for the duck myself. Working my way along the lake shore I picked up a hybrid Eurasian x American Wigeon, a good start but no great surprise, then suddenly as I rounded a woody curve... success! There at the lake side were two photographers. What's more they were intent on something. I literally overlooked the Ring-necked when I fetched-up at the spot, it wasn't till my scan had drawn a blank that I noticed the camera lenses were angled downwards towards the closest duck on the lake. Unbelievable.

Of course the duck hadn't moved to a different pond! It was simply that the vast majority of photographers (being sensible folk) were enjoying an unhurried morning and leisurely breakfast before strolling along when the overcast morning had already brightened, as the forecast predicted.

No sooner had I unpacked my camera than the Ring-necked woke and, as if the light wasn't bad enough, swam off purposefully to and even duller, shadier part of the lake where it, and a few Common Pochards, dived for berries dropping from the overhanging trees.

The forcasters weren't wrong, morning did brighten and of course the photographers did arrive. I was delighted with my unsurpassable views of the Ring-necked Duck. I'd qualify that by saying I never saw it in direct sunlight, but sunlight was never going to reach the spot the bird was diving for berries and if it moved elsewhere it probably wouldn't have been nearly so close. So... unsurpassable views. I made my way towards the park exit as there was an obvious American Wigeon close to the shore in that direction. All done and dusted by shortly after 10am.

The close views...

The more helpful ID views (sometimes up close doesn't do it)...

And some nice reflections on the water (well why not?)...

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