Wednesday, January 4, 2012

All the old dudes, waiting for news....(sing along)

Short of time as usual in winter with lots of survey work to do, had to limit this trip to 2 days so I aimed straight for Cley.

Red Kite somewhere in Cambridgeshire

Seemed to take forever to get to Cley, with no overtaking places on the lorry infested single lane roads of East Anglia. Finally arrived at around 10.30 to be greeted by huge swirling flocks of birds. Well that was just great. There were birds going in all directions. As suspected on arriving at the hides I was greeted by the usual 'it was here 10 minutes ago but all the birds were flushed' Yes I know! Wind on 5 hours and it turned out to be the only sighting of the day. What was more annoying was the flushing Peregrine wasnt seen again either so it clearly didnt make a habit of coming here.
Most time spent searching so not too many photos

Ruff + Dunlin

Leaning Wigeon. This was the only shot I could be bothered to take so have to use it.

Teal doing its wooden decoy impression. Yes I can see you.

Cold looking Lapwing taking me up to a BOU friendly 5 species for the year!

Day 2

After 2 cold and painful dips out of 2, peppered with countless encounters with completely clueless dudes (mostly at Cley, the car park was full and it was only a week day. Did I mention one showed me a photo of an odd looking Ruff and asked me if it was the Western Sand) I almost drove home that evening. But surely I couldnt give up that easily. I decided to give it to the next morning and if it didnt appear I would reassess the situation then.

The next morning was lovely and sunny and crisp and the scenery (to me anyway as I like it up here) was fantastic

East Bank

This bird was sat sunning itself on the roof of one of the hides

A morning in all the hides and a good scan of the many waders at Pats Pool (where nobody else had actually looked all day yesterday and this morning, too far to walk from the carpark and even if they saw it they wouldnt know it. Better to wait in the main hides so it can be pointed out) and there was again no sign.
Ah well, that was that then. With no Humes or Western Sand and the thought of meeting many more dudes in the future, I decided to call it a day.
What happened next could be called a stroke of luck but in hindsight some months ahead may have been infact a stroke of bad luck. In the day and a half I had been at Cley I hadnt even been to the Coastguards car park. A car park I had spent many happy occasions in the past, mostly discussing the great bird(s) (2 Slender-billed Gulls in 87) that we had just seen.
I'll just pop down there before I head back.
On driving down the beach road there was a guy leaning on his car scoping the flooded fields. Can I be bothered to ask him if he had any news? "No sign of the Western Sand I suppose."
He replied in the most casual manner you could imagine, "yes its out here" as though it had been there all day.
And here it is

Doesnt look very long billed here (think the grass is obscuring the tip)

But does here

After I had got a few digiscoped shots, the flock went much further away so didnt even have time to try and see the lower scapulars which is a bit of a crime really but thats what happens when you have to put the photographing first I suppose.
I was buzzing now and wanted more! A quick spin round in the coastguards carpark (a few less buildings than on my last visit) and it was off to Buckenham Marshes.
I arrived at the main track, scanned the fields and hey presto there was the Lesser White-front, feeding with the Taiga's. My luck was changing, this also could have proved a very awkward bird as they regularly moved around.
Problem was that it was about a mile away. So if you thought my Western Sand shots were crap just take a look at these beauties.
One of the criterions I wanted to impose on the yearlist was that all photographs would show identifiable birds. Now with the magnitude and clear difficulty identifying the Western Sand (first thought by very very good birders to be a Semi-P) I kind of relaxed it a bit on that one.
However a bird later and I am at it again.

Well its definitely a White-front of some description! That white really was how bright it came out on the photo. I havent touched it at all.

However, take a look at this photo. Is it my imagination or does this bird have a rather steep-foreheadedness and small billedness about it? I think it does so I am claiming that this falls just within my parameters! Hold on is that a yellow eye ring I can see there....!

Time was now definitely not on my side (it was nearly dark at 15.40 yesterday). But I had to try and get to Titchwell for the Coues's. On arrival it was a quick dash around all the local likely spots (tripping over a few dudes rooted to the spot on the way round) but to no avail. Did see some Lessers but didnt have the energy to lift the heavy camera in their direction.