Sunday, 21 February 2010

The Curate's Egg

It's been rather quiet on here of late I'm afraid, the reason being it's been 'Seaton pantomime week' which means I've had precious little time for any birding. I'm not in the pantomime myself but my daughter Martha is, which in turn means visiting family and all that that entails. More on the pantomime in a later post when I've got hold of some photos from Martha, one definitely worth seeing is of local birder Ian Waite dressed as a Bunny Girl!!
The only birding I've fitted in during the week was a trip to Trinity Hill with Rex on Friday when I again enjoyed excellent views of  a couple of Crossbills, but also fell my full length into a bog, which was nice!


A couple of photos of the Trinity Hill Crossbills
 (Not as good as the last lot but I'm putting them on here because after today's events they may be the last half decent digiscoped images I'll get for a while.)

Come the weekend I was ready for some proper birding and so on Saturday morning I picked up (my twitching sidekick?) Bun and we set off to Hembury Woods near Buckfastleigh in search of the fabled Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. A pair of these elusive birds have been seen here on a regular basis in and around the car parking area, so I was hopeful of seeing one for what would have been the first time ever. Yes that's right, would have been. We saw just about every woodland species there is, except the Lesser Spot of course. I'm beginning to think they don't actually exist. On the plus side though we enjoyed superb views of at least three delightful Firecrests, which were just too energetic for my slow focussing S3 to mange a snap of. Still they were great to see and made the trip worthwhile ;-)

Today we were out again, this time doing a small tour of Cornwall, with the target birds being a couple of potential lifers for me. First stop was Coliford Lake near Bodmin where we were hoping to see the drake Lesser Scaup.
This time we were lucky and soon located it with a small group of Tufted Ducks. It's just a shame that it was on the northern arm of the lake, which is only viewable from a distant roadside vantage point. Viewing conditions however were in our favour, with the good light and a totally flat water surface making the scope views surprisingly good! Photos were always going to be a challenge though....Remember last June when we went to the self same spot to view the American Black Duck and you were treated to stunning photos like this...

 American Black Duck....  Hiding ( it ain't there!)
 Well, today I can bring you more of the same top notch stuff, like so...

Lesser Scaup... Underwater.
I did actually get a shot of the bird, but don't hold your breath!

Classic! Just look at all those clinching features!

While we were here a local birder arrived to view the bird and told us of a redhead Smew 'showing really well' just down the road at Sibleyback Reservoir. So although not on the itinerary we popped over there for a look. Here it is...

Now that's what I call 'showing really well' 
(Clue. It's in between the two drake Tufties)
Admittedly it was sort of possible to walk around the  lake to a closer vantage point, if you'd got a few hours to spare and were also preferably related in some way to a mud loving, wallowing animal such as a Hippo!!

Our next port of call was Maer Lake in Bude where we were hoping to see the Long-billed Dowitcher, that has been seen on and off this week. We dipped. My FOURTH Long-billed Dowitcher dip no less! We did see a superb male Merlin fly through though. Our final stop was back over the border in Devon, at Lower Tamar Lake, where again Hippo genes would have come in handy! We got very muddy but had some good views of at least six Willow Tits. Tamar Lake is one of very few places where they can still be found in Devon. It was good to hear them calling and singing too. Also here were a notable 24 Goosanders.

Why the Curate's Egg? Well, because with a lifer and several other nice birds 'in the bag' over the weekend it was indeed 'excellent in parts' but marred by a teeny weeny 'disaster'. I've broken my scope again! It's still usable this time though, just! Sometime while scrambling along the edges of the muddy paths at Tamar Lake, half  on the 'path' and half in the bushes I must have caught the end of my scope on something, resulting in the twist up eye-cup falling off. This means I'll struggle to hold my eye in the correct place to view and EVEN WORSE I wont be able to hold my camera to the eyepiece to digiscope. To compound matters I also noticed today that 'the blurred patch' is now very seriously ruining my view, with objects only being in focus in the bottom half of the FOV. Looks like the new camera's moved down a place on the things I'd really like to buy list! :-(

However, the massive highlight today was beating Bun in our 'competition of the day' - 9 cyclists beats 6 joggers. Yes GET IN! Excellent in parts, indeed! ;-)

1 comment:

Dean said...

Excellent & entertaining post Karen.
Oh, the ups & downs of birding. You had them all there.