Friday, July 23, 2010

"No Two Days Are The Same"

A couple of weeks ago a White-tailed Lapwing which had been seen previously in the last year in this country and Holland turned up again at Rainham Marshes in London prompting me to suggest to the lads a "mega twitch" on the weekend of 10/11th July.
A text from Dan on Fri 9th July alerted me to the fact that the bird had now turned up at WWT Slimbridge on the Friday afternoon,now that's a bit closer to home and plans were made for the Saturday morning.
Wayne was unavailable due to family committments and so myself and Kevin arranged to meet at Dan's at 7.00am for an early start,this was then modified to an 8.00am meet up when hopefully the bird would have been found and we wouldn't make a wasted journey.
We hung about drinking tea/coffee on Dan's patio for a while waiting for news but after an hour or so gave up and Kevin headed for home.
Myself,Dan and Geth headed down to Glamorgan Canal in the hope that I may be able to photograph a Kingfisher which unfortunately proved to be about as elusive as the "mega" Lapwing !!
Just as we were about to call it a day and leave the hide Kev phoned to confirm that the WT Lapwing had been found at the Holden Tower,it was all systems go and the race to get to Slimbridge was on !!
Kev headed back and we all arrived at Dan's at the same time and with Dan at the wheel we made good time and were soon joining the other "twitchers" walking rather briskly through the grounds.
The bird by this time had relocated to the Zeiss Hide and we were pleasantly surprized to find that there was room enough comfortably for the four of us.
The bird was showing well but quite distant at about 200m from the hide as it fed with the other more common Lapwings in the lagoon,what a "stonker" of a bird !!

Guessing that the bird would be quite distant I'd covered both options by bringing the compact camera as well as the SLR and "Bigma" and although there was fair amount of heathaze managed to digi-scope a couple of record snaps,sorry I mean "images".

I did have a go with the "Bigma" but didn't end up with any good photos with having to zoom/crop far too much,which reminds me I must invest in a 1.4x teleconverter.

The first four photos are digi-scoped at 60x on the 20-60 zoom eyepiece on my scope and are un-cropped whilst 5+6 are taken with the "Bigma" and SLR and zoomed/cropped to blazes !!

We chatted with Paul Bowden for a while after having our fill of the bird as he was digi-videoing (is that correct terminology !!?) up on the top floor of the hide and as we nonchalauntly swaggered back through the grounds (as you do after ticking a "mega" lifer) we came across Phil Bristow and Mike Powell making their way out to the hide before bumping into the Cram family in the car park.

We headed for home (a lifer in the bag for all four of us) and I spent the remainder of the day in the garden accumulating a few more brownie points enabling me to get back out "twitching" on Sunday !!

Myself and Wayne met up at Dan's early on Sunday and headed for Slimbridge,this time in the Grousewagon hoping to catch up with the WT Lapwing again for Wayne.

We hung about the Holden Tower and then the Zeiss Hide but to no avail,had the bird gone overnight ?

We gave it until 11.00am and then headed down the West Country the plan being to catch up with the Gull-billed Tern at Exton/Bowling Green Marsh,Roseate Tern at Dawlish and the Little Bittern on the Somerset Levels on the way home.

The G-b Tern was showing from Exton Station and finally after much scanning the bird was picked up loafing out on the mudflats at some distance away,we enjoyed distant scope views as it took to the wing for a while before returning to exactly the same place.

As it didn't look as if it was going to come any closer we returned to the Jeep for a quick bite to eat before moving on.

A call from one of the other birders still watching the bird alerted us that it had moved a little closer which enabled me to digi-scope a couple of record snaps.

A lifer for myself and Wayne and only the second of the species for Dan.

We'd opened our account after a dismal start at Slimbridge and we were soon trudging through Dawlish Warren on our way out to the hide in search of Roseate Tern which had been reported in a mixed tern flock out on the estuary.

We soon came across a large very distant flock but they all looked like Sandwich Terns,as we sat in the hide I checked Birdguides on my phone to find that the WT Lapwing had relocated to Dungeness !!, we gave up and moved on up the M5 in search of the Little Bittern at Walton Heath.

The reed beds were eriely quiet and there was not much sign of anything let alone a Little Bittern,what a contrast to 2009 when we had enjoyed stonking views and even had Little and Great Bittern in flight side by side.

It had been a long and tiring day and as we headed back to the Jeep the only bird of note was a distant Marsh Harrier coming in to roost.

The Gull-billed Tern was a good bird to get but the rest of the day was instantly forgetable and the three of us agreed that we'd all enjoyed better day's out.

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