What a day! Just in case you missed that title, today was a bit of a red letter day in the Dearne Valley. More details in a minute but first, here’s the summary of sightings…

For some while now, birding folk will have been aware that a very handsome ring-necked duck has been frequenting the South Kirby area. Very recently, he’s had a companion in the form of drake ferruginous duck. Today, just to keep us all on our toes, the ring-necked duck swapped to the serene waters of Bolton Ings.

Although this is a well-known bird in the wider area, its appearance at Bolton caused quite a stir and many watchers took a brisk walk down the Trans Pennine Trail to catch a glimpse of this rarity. In fact, they got more than a glimpse. Though distant, the drake was present throughout the day.

Drake ring-necked duck – taken at his previous abode!

Ring-necked ducks are rare vagrants from North America and there are only around ten to fifteen birds recorded annually in the UK. As you can imagine, for one to turn up ‘on our doorstep’ is quite something!

But the day was to spring another surprise. Back at Old Moor, a visitor showed around a photograph of a rusty-looking duck. It couldn’t be, could it? But it was - the ferruginous duck!

The ferruginous duck (foreground) taken today at Wath Ings

Now imagine all those folk at Bolton taking an even brisker walk back to Wath Ings!

Ferruginous ducks are another vagrant species but this time from Eastern Europe. And yes, another rarity. How rare? To my knowledge, the only other ferruginous duck recorded at Wath Ings was 47 years ago. Maybe that’s why Wath Ings Hide filled up very quickly with watchers who could not believe their luck!

Sadly, the end of this tale was that the ferruginous duck left around 15.45. It flew high over Green Lane and then was lost to view. Attempts to relocate it failed though you can be sure that it will be looked for again tomorrow!

Is this the back of him?

As the light faded over the Wader Scrape, a barn owl began to hunt. The last of the watchers scanned through the larger gulls, just in case there was a third rarity out there!

Until next time.