Thursday 26 November 2009

Unringed and Wary? .... And The Best Dip Ever!

I'm pretty late getting this blog post on here, so much so that most of you (those who've read Gav's blog) will already know all about where I went and what I saw yesterday, therefore I'll try and keep this brief. Yesterday morning Bun and I popped along to East Budleigh to look at the Red-breasted Goose which has taken up temporary residence in a quarry there. For this foolish act we have been ribbed and ridiculed not least by Steve, who said (several times) and I quote (minus the profanities obviously) " What did you want to go and see that ******* piece of **** for?!" If that's the way he's been referring to his beloved 'pet goose' Geraldine, it's no wonder she's upped and done a bunk! I have two reasons (or excuses, if you prefer) for going to see it, firstly I haven't seen one outside of the confines of an enclosure in a collection/zoo. Secondly, I really wanted to see for myself the curious anomaly which is an unringed and WARY  (!) goose in a working quarry!! When we arrived at the quarry edge we could immediately see the goose standing on a small island oasis in the middle of a vast wasteland of clay and gravel, with people and working machinery in the close vicinity.

The island in question is there right in the centre, massive dumpsters were working around that large heap in the background, there's one just visible in the photo.

The Red-breasted Goose was definitely unringed, but wary? I don't think so! It  made Sunday's Scaup look positively hyperactive. It stood still, preened and slept and when a large bang rang out (sounded like a small explosion) I jumped but the goose didn't. It didn't even wake up!! I'm not saying the fact that it looks very relaxed and also that it is alone point to it definitely being of captive origin. ( If the same bird was on the Exe Estuary with the Brent Geese we'd  most probably all consider it wild, wouldn't we?) I think in a lot of cases it's pretty arrogant of us to think we can easily judge. For instance we had a lone Brent Goose on our patch in March this year which was also pretty confiding, but the rings it was wearing proved it had been part a wild flock travelling between Iceland (where it was ringed) and Ireland. Without this evidence it would no doubt have been judged as 'plastic'. Wrongly.

 A very nice bird indeed even if very distant, Red-breasted Goose.
It's on my list, right next to Ruddy Shelduck ;-)

After arriving home at 10 am, I'd just sat down after putting the kettle on for a celebratory cuppa when Gav phoned. I nearly fainted when I heard, NOT the news of a White/Black-bellied Storm Petrel but the fact the Gav was asking me if I fancied a twitch! This was indeed a rare occurrence and so I immediately acquiesced, probably against my better judgment as I'd be pressed for time having work later in the afternoon. I relayed the news to Bun who had just arrived at work, ten minutes later I was picking them up! The news on the pager looked grim as we made our way to Gloucestershire but I wasn't too concerned because I was pretty eager to get my first ever views of an animated Leach's Petrel; my only other one being a particularly moribund cat attack casualty in a box! As you  probably know there was no more sign of the W/BB Storm Petrel but we did indeed get superb (and at times really close) views of a Leach's Storm Petrel and also an absolutely stunning sub-adult Pomarine Skua. Brilliant stuff! Best dip ever! Here are some photos from Severn Beach.

The twitching elite.
Devon birders, Dave and Brian (on the left) plus a few others

This photo shows something I've noticed which is even brighter than Gav's neon hat. See it? Right in the centre of the photo below the railings. It's the ultra brilliant white socks of Lee Evans. He noticed me pointing the camera at him I think, (he's looking at me) so I didn't zoom in!

Gav checking his camera for little black specks after attempting to digiscope a Leach's Petrel. I also very optimistically tried this technique, but amazingly I did manage to get identifiable birds on a few shots. I think this was down to setting the camera to continuous shooting mode, but I didn't half have a lot of images of  brown waves to sift through to find anything.
Stunning I know :-) You can tell what it is though.

The New Severn Bridge, which I find quite aesthetically pleasing for a bridge especially with the refection of the setting sun on the water....  Whoops, no my mistake! It looked a zillion times better with the magnificent Pom Skua gliding above it though. What hat? Where? I never said a thing ;-)


Jonathan Lethbridge said...

Love the hat comment!

Gavin Haig said...

I have flagrantly lifted the 'hat pic' and am now using it for my blogger profile pic. As the victim of such ruthless fun-poking I feel no guilt whatsoever...

Karen Woolley said...

....And as the inexorable perpetrator nor do I! ;-)