R and I managed to dredge up some errands this afternoon, to justify a trip to Stratford. The return of the Indian summer had brought out scores of tourists too (how dare they!!), but despite the irritation I experience whenever I have to negotiate crowds of people, I must say that it felt positive to see the town so busy after the dog days of Covid. Not that we're anywhere near done with Covid yet of course, but some of us at least are still trying to practise distancing, and wearing masks indoors.
The current tufted duck count on the Bancroft stretch of the Avon is twelve, which is pretty positive for this stage in the autumn. It's a nice little mixed flock - mostly males, as is usual, but with a few females too - and though some of them were staying in a group in the middle of the river, most were mobile and hunting for food, and seemed quite prepared to approach the wharf even when there were people there. This male is already well on his way out of eclipse and into breeding plumage, and is beginning to show a nice hint of iridescence around the cheeks.
For the record, down at Lucy's Mill Bridge we saw at least five male Migrant Hawkers hunting over the reed bed.