Did you think I'd forgotten you? Perhaps you hoped I had. Don't waste a breath mourning Miss Barnes. — Frank Underwood, House of Cards
So, yes, I've been gone for a while: I've been otherwise engaged with things that you really don't want to have to hear about; and yes, I'm slightly addicted to House of Cards. Or was, I should say — I finished season two a week after it was was released. I'm looking to get a wrist band, W.W.F.U.D? He's my new role model in life.

Spring arrived in London today and the world and his dog were out to enjoy the sunshine. Against my better judgement, I jumped on a bus to WWT Barnes. The place was crawling with small children. Thankfully, their little legs can't carry them as far as the wader scrape hide, and I found relative solace in there. I notched up forty species over a couple of hours on side — not bad for London, though there wasn't particularly anything of great note.

I spent most of my time taking a look at some of the dabbling ducks that were on the scrape, particularly the Shoveler. Having caught a bird last autumn and learnt a little bit about ageing the species, I was keen to see how things were now, some four months later. One question I always wonder about is when — or if — young birds moult the tail and/or tertials. It was nice to see that the 2cy birds today had retained all of their juvenile tertials. The difference between the retained juvenile tertials and the adult birds' tertials was noticeable, even at range. No birds came close enough to check the tail, although it was apparent even at distance that the belly feathers — even on some of the 2cy birds that were more advanced in other aspects of body plumage — were either retained or “immature”, being brown and scaly compared to the red-chestnut flanks.

Adult (below) and 2cy Shoveler — this 2cy was one of the more scaly immature-looking birds; on others, the body feathers were more adult-like but the tertials were nonetheless still retained.

I also had a play about with the slo-mo video function on my iPhone. I was pretty pleased with the results!