Sunday, 24 January 2010

Great Company, Great Birds, Treasure!, Crap Pics

I sit and read other blogs and see comments like, this is only a record shot, the light was awful, was too far away and Im sitting looking at stunning pics!!!!!. Well thats not the case for me. So the weekend started with me picking up Segedunum Warbler (Johnny) for a days wander round. We went first to QEII where there was a lot of Swans to-ing and fro-ing from the lake but a silhouette of a Great Crested Grebe was spotted (it was just a couple of mins after 8) and we watched intently for a few minutes catching a couple of more glimpses but then it dissappeared. Off up to Linton next but across the road in the far fields from the QEII there was at least 40 Swans (type unknown). At Linton we were looking for the Smew but with not very happy results, the 3 guys in the left hand corner of the hide saw it for a few seconds as it popped out from behind a clump of grass, Johnny saw it for about 2 Secs and me sitting in the right hand corner saw it for precisely 0 Secs. Never mind there was plenty else to see, including a few Shelduck,

lots of Teal doing their best to impersonate Roger Whittaker, several GoldenEye, loads of Canada Geese who seemed to have ants in their pants with their constant moving around the lake.

A Grey Heron also popped in for a few minutes. Some of the Canadas broke up into pairs and started doing their "thing" which involved quite a lot of neck biting (still not as good as the GoldenEye though). A few Pochard were seen also and a couple of Gadwall(Note to myself - must remember to write notes).
Next in line was Longhirst Flash but only a couple of Mute Swans and a Grey Heron were showing.
Off down to Bothal Pond which was still partly frozen next to the road therefore all the birds were quite well into the pond. Lots of birds there including a couple of stunning Bird Book looking Goldeneye, lots of Teal, Mallards, Lapwings, a Shelduck, Pochard and Canada Geese.
Back into the faithful steed and down to Druridge where there was very little on the main pond with the exception of a couple of GoldenEye, a few Teal and Mallard and that was it. Next door in the screen was exactly the opposite, the fields were flooded with quite a lot of mud on the margins. Teal, Mallard, Curlews, in abundance with Lapwings, Redshank, a few Dunlin and when we went round to the other Screen we saw a Bar Tailed Godwit with even more Teal and Curlews

Down to Cresswell and a little walk down the path between the ponds where we spotted lots of Curlew with 13 Brent amongst them.

They all took off several times and flew together for a couple of laps around the lake then landed again. Had only seen Brent before in Martin Mere.

Finally we headed down to Blyth Estuary where it was right on bottom water and it was absolutely packed with birds including lots of Redshank, Dunlin, a Shelduck, a Little Grebe, Turnstone, a few Ringed Plover, Lapwings and a couple of Bar Tailed Godwit.
We spent a good 90mins surveying the estuary which was really the highlight of the day. Thanks John for a great day and good crack.
Next morning had to go to Big Waters (withdrawal symptoms setting in). Still suprised to see that some of the lake was still icebound even though the Feeding Station was now mud instead of a foot of water. Realised that it was getting dryer when Alan was able to update the log on the White Board which had been unusable since November. The pic shows a couple of Mallard about 30m from the Hide practising for "Dancing On Ice"

Spent an hour in the hide where the normal suspects were seen including Siskin, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting and a solitary wren. Then went for a walk round with Alan, Ian and Graeme with my ears wide open straining to hear every bit of valuable information they imparted and trying to remember it (some hope as the hard disc was screaming full after about 10mins). First thing I spotted was this unknown passerine with a minature Scottie Dog in its pouch (or have I been having too many psychiatrist interviews lately).

You thought the pics before were crap, now look at these. Alan said "John get a pic of that Jay, as I haven't got a pic of one at Big Waters", after eventually finding it in my bins and knowing roughly where it was I pointed the camera. Result ???? (Honestly there is one there)

After a while Alan had to go and do some Sonly duties (might have been shopping as I know he is such a fan of it) and Ian went with him. Graeme and myself wandered on a bit more and eventually started scanning one of the fields for Linnets and Skylarks but the cupboard was bare and "all" we could find was at least 100 Reed Bunting which kept flying around without any purpose although they still might have been spooked from a Sparrowhawk which was around.


We then headed back and when we got to the bridge Graeme went off to the Car Park whilst I decided to look for the elusive Green Woodpecker. After about 10 mins I spotted a woodpecker in the trees, wrong type unfortunately but still unusual (for me that is, birding alone without someone to confirm that I had seen a Sparrow)

Wandered on for a bit more and caught a glimpse of something about 50m away moving along the ground (remembered that Ian had casually remarked that they are groundfeeders when we were looking previously as the others were looking on the ground and he had noticed I was looking at the top of the trees but had said it in such a way that I didn't feel a fool). I got the bins on it and what a magnificent bird, lot bigger than what I had thought, watched it for a couple of mins then thought I had better try (LOL) to get a pic of it in the bad light, bit of drizzle and god know what settings I had my camera on. Took a couple of quick snaps just as a ball came bouncing across the open ground closely followed by a Labrador. Up it went but I followed its flight path and saw where it landed so started to follow with the Labrador running up to me and jumping up (If dogs are prone to jumping up why dont owners keep them on bloody leads when they get near people or learn how to BLOODY call them off). Got the bins on it again but it kept hopping around and I couldnt get much closer, it eventually dissappeared but despite hanging around for another 15mins I never saw it again.

Finally the treasure. One of us decided they needed to relieve themselves and whilst wandering into the wild blue yonder spotted something in the base of tree.

It turned out to be a plastic box full of little "treasures" such as crayons, pink headband and several other little items including a book showing who had found it and what they had taken and replaced, it had been there since Mar 09. There was also an explanation for finders saying that it was part of a treasure hunt and if you wanted to know more you should go to http://www.geocaching.com/.
Well, great weekend even if the weather was crap and the pictures were. As long as the birds are there and the company canny what more can you ask.
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