A good year for twitchers as birds wing in

Smew at Wintersett
Smew at Wintersett

SOME familiar feathered faces have winged in to cap an “excellent” birding year.

A drake smew, which spends its time flitting between Millfield Lagoons in Horbury and Wintersett Reservoir, has returned for its fifth successive winter in Wakefield.

The colourful black and white duck returned to its winter quarters on December 1 when it was spotted at Wintersett.

Birder Pete Smith, of Wintersett Wildlife Group, said: “Some are creatures of habit. Some don’t comeback to the same spot.

“But there was one many years ago on the Barnsley moors, which came for eight years.”

The smew been also joined by an American Widgeon, which has returned to Wintersett for a second successive year on October 8.

A female long-tailed duck is also being seen on nearby Anglers Country Park while a male has also visited Pugneys.

And Wintersett hosted its first bittern of the winter on Sunday.

Mr Smith, 58, said: “The birding year has been excellent. We had one new species for the Wintersett list that was a rough-legged buzzard on September 26.

“We also had a juvenile long-tailed skua on Wintersett Reservoir for a couple of hours on August 13. That’s a coastal bird.”

The Belle Vue based birder believes Wakefield is a hot spot for waterfowl because of the vast amount of protected waters with plenty of food.

He said: “Pugneys and Wintersett are only about three miles apart as the bird flies. They are not too far away.

“Some nights gulls will go to Pugneys, other times they will go to us and vice-versa, like the smew, a Caspian gull and the long-tailed duck.

“The male long-tailed duck was on Wintersett the first day and then moved to Pugneys.”

So far 175 diffrent species of birds have been recorded at Wintersett this year, just four short of 2011’s record-breaking total.

All of these pictures were taken by Ron Marshall, from Barnsley, who also spotted a flock of 40 waxwings during a trip to Normanton last month. The colourful and crested birds, which fly in from Scandinavia to devour Britain’s berry crop, were spotted near St John the Baptist Church on Newland Lane.

Waxwings have also been seen regularly in the car park at Pugneys and on the business park at nearby Calder wetlands where they have been feasting on ornamental berry trees.