Sunday, 1 March 2009

Weekend Wittering

I didn't get time to write anything on here yesterday, I was so tired after work I went straight to bed without my Horlicks. I had gotten up at around five to go to Seaton Marshes where the AERG were Canon Netting for the last time this winter. We had a good catch of 39 birds (32 Shelduck and 7 Mallard) 15 of which were 'fresh' birds. There were sixteen of us, so the birds didn't take long to process and we were finished by 8:30.

This drake Shelduck was doing his Indian Runner Duck impression. Mike took this picture- I don't think he liked ny hat!!

Whilst at Seaton Marshes I got a text from Phil saying the Red-necked Grebe and a Black-throated Diver were at Bransccombe, so seeing as we'd finished nice and early I decided to go and try for the grebe for the fourth time! When I arrived Phil and Ian M were still there and immediately got me onto the RNG, which was much nicer than the October one because it was coming into summer plumage. I had missed the Black-throated Diver though and although I was keen to string a couple of distant divers into the black-throated variety, Phil and Ian insisted they were too distant to ID with any certainty, so it will have to remain another patch year tick to look forward to! After Phil and Ian had left it drifted slightly closer, close enough to digiscope I thought. There was a problem though. I had picked up my scope from home on the way but hadn't collected my digiscoping camera. I did have the S3 with me which is woefully inadequate when it comes to digiscoping. I have to have to scope set to almost full zoom (!!) to get it to work at all.

The Red-necked speck is in this photo.

The s3's attempt. Viciously cropped and attempted to sharpen, you can tell it's a Grebe, perhaps. You'll have to take my word for it that it's Red-necked.

A while later more birders turned up to see it, including Doug and Clive:

They've seen it but are somehow managing NOT to jump up and down like Tigger! ;-)

Before work I had a quick look along the estuary and saw a single drake Gadwall (which Nick had texted me about earlier) looking really out of place. We seem to have had a lot more of these than usual so far this year.

Today I had a much needed lie in and missed another Black-throated Diver at Branscombe, Phil texted the news at around midday. I don't know what time he'd seen it at but I wasn't going to go anywhere near Branscombe on a sunny and 'warm' (compared to some recent weather) Sunday afternoon. In fact everywhere in the Axe Vally was teeming with sun- starved humans today and when I walked the dog along the Coly late morning, I thought I'd inadvertently stumbled into the 'Pedigree Chum' dog cross country championships!! So no decent birding today.

This evening I found myself down at Seaton Marshes again because another member of the AERG had contacted me because she had found a dead Sparrowhawk. I wanted to see it, firstly because I wanted to check it hadn't been shot, or trapped in any way and secondly because I've never seen one up really close, so even a dead one would be better than nothing. It was a first winter bird and upon examination was found to be incredibly emaciated, so had more than likely starved to death, poor thing. Obviously not enough prey around at this time of year. I wonder how many young Sparrowhawks starve to death each winter? I know some people would say " not nearly enough". I'm happy to declare that I'm not in that camp. For some reason I just had to take the unfortunate's corpse home to show my 'lucky' family, who weren't in the least bit surprised by this very 'normal' behavior on my part. The cat was literally terrified of it! Perhaps he's had a nasty encounter with one while on his travels, it makes me wonder....

On a happier note my Skylark (remember that) is still alive and very well. A couple of days ago I gave Steve the wing measurement and he was able to tell me it was a female. Well, she managed to take off from the floor for the first time on Friday and yesterday flew up two flights of stairs. She's been getting a lot stronger and more active since I've been feeding her insects and worms in addition to seed. I do this by scattering compost and leaf mould in the cage and letting her find all the tasty morsels herself. I think I'll be able to release her very soon but may have to wait until late next week because there are gales forecast for Tuesday. Here's a video of her foraging for insects.

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