Saturday and off early to play with my new Bridge Camera, the Fuji Finepix HS20 EXR, thought it was time to upgrade from my now ever so old Fuji which has had more drops and bangs than any of my equipment. The first pic I took with it earlier on in the week was a memento of a momentous day in my life, the Bus Pas for Wrinklies - my first Zero Fare ticket. Cant see myself using it a lot at the moment but might be handy when I eventually finish work and don't have to shoot off at dawn when I'm off work to get the maximum birding time in
Headed off to Gosforth for a couple of hours before going to Big Waters on Saturday, no Bittern but there was a trio of Snipe who failed their camouflage test as I spotted them, a few ducks on the pond with my first Pochard of the year and an hour in the hide with Paul M, Davy and Nigel T was quite agreeable. I bumped into Terry C on the way out, looking like a pack mule as he lugs his big lenses around. I stopped at the Feeding Station for 10mins where a couple of Nuthatch, Treecreepers and Woodpeckers were "showing well" until a Sparrowhawk put paid to the chatter and everything went silent apart from Jeff and Paul banging away repairing the store shed which didn't seem to phase the birds at all.
I then moved on to Big Waters where I added two more bird to my patch list, Long Tailed Tit and Song Thrush. A pleasant couple of hours spent with AlanJ and KeithB added to the enjoyment. Then onto Prestwick Carr where nothing had been seen for most of the day but as a lot of people left out came at least 2 Short Eared Owls.
On Sunday off to Blyth where at least 20 Snow Buntings wheeled around and above the Stubble Field next to the church although a lot of their movement was caused by quite a few walkers and their dogs and during my 30mins there I didn't see one of them pick up any deposits left by their uncontrollable dogs (there is more shit lying round that area than passes through the main inteceptor pipe for the Howdon Sewage Plant), 4 of delightful well under control dogs, ran at me barking with one of them jumping up and putting its paws on my back. When they eventually get control of their dogs the standard phrase used by these morons spews out "They wont hurt you, they just like people", well how the F**K do I know that, how would they like it if I ran around waving my tripod in the air and stopped just in front of them telling them I was just having a bit of exercise. A flock of Curlews flew over and eventually landed on the field to the South but a delightful little Scotty Dog, white with tartan coat (thats the owner, not the dog) ran into the field sending them up again and the bloody woman never took a bit of notice as she puffed away on a fag. The 8 Partridge I saw were quite mobile due to various dogs trying their sheepdog tactics on them. 3 of the owners got together in the middle of a field for a chewing the fat session whilst their dogs ran wild, although I did hear the odd call for them to come back which they totally ignored (thought I heard the call FENTON at one stage also, which made me look up in case I had missed a herd of Deer). On to Big Waters for a wander round with AlanJ and IanR and as I arrived 2 Goosander flew over my head in the direction of Arcot and then when we got to the pond there was another 5 swimming around. Unfortunately that was the highlight of the visit but even so the walk was informative and entertaining as usual.
Well a couple of days playing with the camera is probably not enough as I still hanker for the instantaneous action of my Nikon "instamatic" but the old camera definitely needed replacing. I will give it a couple more weeks but still feel the need for a 300 F4 (and if that Lottery Win happens I will get an even bigger lens and hopefully hire Maria's Sherpa to carry it round for me)