Saturday, April 26, 2014

Opportunity knocks

A window of opportunity. D#2 at a course in Cambridge from 10:30-3:30. Mine to do what I like between whiles.

First stop somewhere in the Fens. I have no idea where I just plugged in a postcode and a road and off I went, trusting that a group of birdwatchers in the middle of perfectly flat plain would be easily located, and so it turned out. Equally fortunately 3 Dotterel were also easily located in a pea field (where else?) but unfortunately at distance and against the sun. Nevertheless a cracking 20+year reunion with this species and a chance to brush up on the finer points. Everyone else had their lenses and digiscoping equipment so I thought I'd try my hand at digiscoping. Slap the berry over the scope lense, click the shutter, how hard can it be?

The Dotterel are just to the left. Or possibly just to the right.
Well fortunately for you the experts got here first.I'd thought the male seemd to have first winter-style feathers on the back so was pleased to see this described as "a wintery or first-wintery, male-ish bird".

Then done and on to Fen Drayton RSPB for a Black Tern. this was my first visit and wow, what a place. Its big. Like several Amwells joined together. I drove down miles of path, across the strangest tram-line I've ever seen, and then parked up. Just a few minutes in and I was comfortable picking out Arctic Tern when an realised that the annoying person next to me wasn't asking me what I was looking at but telling me that the reason all the birds were in the air was a White Stork gracefully gliding over the far side of the pit. Holy Cow! Not as good as having one on a lamppost just round the corner from you but neverthelss a cracking sight.

The rest of the list is Avocet, c30 Black Tailed Godwit, Hobby, then a few more standard birds such as Goldeneye, Oyk, Redshank, warblers galore, and I missed a few more.

Being largely by myself my comparative inexperience and caution gets in the way. Two brown waders went up with a Whimbrel-like call. If I had to guess I'd say 1 Whimbrel plus 1 Curlew given the size disparity, and checking on xeno-canto, but that's a pretty unsatisfactory conclusion. And then there was a tern settled amongst the Commons. Lighter, with a bill more black than red, could it be? But then it moved and the differences seemed to disappear.

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