Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina)

Birds of this species, presumed to have escaped from collections, were recorded in three winter tetrads during this Atlas. A free-flying, unringed drake was seen on Birkenhead Park Lake (SJ38E) on various dates in winter 2004/ 05, also being found occasionally on the lake in Wallasey Central Park (SJ39A). At Doddington Pool (SJ74D) a female was present from 30 April to 4 June 2004, and another, or the same, female was there on 27 December 2004.

Bell (1962) noted a record of an adult drake at Rostherne, 1 February 1948, with it, or another, there again on 31 December 1948. Extensive enquiries were made about the possibility of the earlier bird being an escape, but the result was negative and it was considered to be genuinely wild. According to Lever (1977) in the 1950s the Red-crested Pochard was a regular autumn migrant to south-eastern England, but since 1962 it reverted to its earlier vagrant status; another influx came in 1986, but none reached Cheshire and Wirral.

The species may well have been overlooked or under-reported, the fate of all birds suspected of having escaped from collections, but after 1948, the next one recorded in the county annual bird reports was in 1974. Further birds were noted in 1975 and 1977, then in all but five of the years from 1981 onwards. There are sightings in every month of the year, not least because three or four of the birds have been resident at a site for several months. They have been found on most of the well-watched inland waters, not least because some were reported in the 1980s to have wandered from a collection in Tatton Park, and at the Weaver Bend (SJ57E) and Hilbre Island.

A few Red-crested Pochards have been reported at various sites in the county in the summer over the years, sometimes in pairs, but never with any indication of breeding.