|Drake Baikal Teal Anas formosa. It was like a composite of the best bits of a load of other good birds: elongated scapulars like a Garganey; the vertical white stripe on the fore-flank like a Green-winged Teal...|
|...and the long white crown stripes meeting at the back of the head like a Cream-coloured Courser. As for the teardrop below the eye, it's just pure Alice Cooper.|
Jol Mitchell had agreed to co-pilot and we arrived at Fen Drayton RSPB shortly after 0800. Jol and I have a (so far) successful record of twitching together but a more neurotic and indecisive pair you would struggle to meet. So between us we proceeded to doubt and double doubt our perfectly clear site directions and the obvious brown signs pointing us to the reserve. Based on a Google Map we had convinced ourselves we needed to be heading down a road called 'The Busway'. It was a good job we didn't find it and try to drive along it as we may have found ourselves splatted by one of Cambridge's guided buses which were hurtling down their dedicated track at quite a lick.
|The Baikal Teal was with a small flock of Common Teal and Wigeon, without which it's origin would undoubtedly be more suspect. Here with a Wigeon....|
|...and here with a Teal for comparison. A few decades ago Baikal Teal was thought to be heading for extinction, and while the population is still vulnerable to a variety of threats, it is growing rapidly.|
|Not quite as pretty: Egyptian Geese at Fen Drayton|
|Just time on the way home to twitch a Red-breasted Goose at Stanpit Marsh - our second rare and stunning wildfowl of the day.|
|Stock Dove, Stanpit Marsh: best of British among the glamorous foreigners.|
It was a particularly sweet moment as Baikal Teal was the 2nd of 3 birds which I missed whilst out of action before Christmas but have since caught up with. Only Orphean Warbler left to complete the grip-back hat-trick...