Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Practice makes perfect

Working with the general public brings me into contact with all sorts of bugs and germs. So it was that my Christmas and New Year were less pleasurable than they could have been because of a bad chest infection that needed treatment with antibiotics. So today was my first day out birding for almost three weeks. My Christmas present was a new Opticron fieldscope, so today was the opportunity to try it out.

I was drawn to Tophill mainly because of the continued visitation of a Green-Winged Teal, but also because it is close to home with the weather about to close in yet again. Yesterday was quite stormy, and the strong westerly winds were forecast to continue today. On that basis I decided to use the Watton hide, hoping that the birds may congregate towards the area away from the Tophill reserve. Things didn’t work out quite as planned in that sense, but on arrival I was able to get some good views of the Green-Winged Teal, the reported red-headed Smew, and a female Garganey. However, before I could take any photos, a couple of Roe deer came prancing across the causeway putting all the birds up. Unfortunately I was not then able to relocate the Smew or GWT, and I didn’t see them for the rest of the day.
Female Garganey with Teal
Female Garganey
The White-Fronted geese were in plentiful supply, and a few came quite close, intermingling with Greylags so that you could clearly see the differences. They also gave a few fly-passes, taking to the air when the Greylags bullied their way through the throng to the water.

White-Fronted Goose


White-Fronted in comparison with a Greylag Goose

Fly-pass White-Fronted geese
The scope worked very well, and gave some really good views even in the low light conditions. I certainly got plenty of practice with it looking for the GWT amongst the throngs of its Eurasian relatives, Wigeon, and Mallard. It even helped find the three Black-Tailed Godwit and handful of Redshank that were searching for worms on the bankside amongst the geese.
It wasn’t the best of days with the cold and the wind. However, it was a great opportunity to practice with my new optics if nothing else.

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