Sunday 17 June 2012

Breckland birding

Today I went to the Brecks with Hawky and Hawky sr. for a crack at Golden Oriole and a few other things. Although we failed to see the Orioles, which is pretty much par for the course, we heard at least three, and possibly four or five. Depends how quickly they can move through the plantations really, and given we saw nothing, it's impossible to say. We did come across a very shy and elusive Jackdaw though, which more than made up for the lack of Oriole sightings. A birding lens was entirely useless in this situation, so instead I resorted to the macro. I've barely taken a photo of a bug this year, I didn't think I'd be using it on a bird! It took quite a liking to Hawky, as you can see. People talk about the great wildlife experiences, you know, herds of Wildebeest crossing the Mara river, millions of Monarch butterflies wintering in Mexico, that kind of thing, but rarely does 37 year old essex man feeding Jackdaw bits of apple from his lips get a mention, and I think that's a real shame. National Geographic are definitely missing a trick.

Passing the rictal bristle test with flying colours!

Several Bitterns, and gazillions of Cuckoos and Marsh Harriers jumped out at us as we wandered round, and the flutey calls of the Orioles carried far on the breeze. We finished our meander around eleven, and so headed for some well deserved breakfast at the roadside Cafe near the five ways roundabout. I had a coffee which I sprinkled lettuce in, delicious.

A few miles deeper into Breckland and we stopped to check out a Redstart site we had been told about. I could tell you but I'd have to kill you. The young had left the nest and were being fed by attentive parents. No idea how many young, but dad was feeding one, and possibly mum was feeding others. I've rarely seen Redstart so well, the odd passage bird on Wanstead Flats (Remember Wanstead Flats? This is a blog about Wanstead.) being the exception, and I didn't have my camera with me on the really memorable occasion. At this site, the adult rarely stayed put, and a two hour vigil resulted in few opportunities, and when they came I was often too slow. The one time where the bird landed close enough, in the right light, and stayed put long enough, the angle was such that I had to lift the lens with monopod attached up off the ground and take it handheld. Sharpness, I'm sad to say, suffered, and sharpness is everything. Or it's a start at any rate. Still, best Redstart photo I've ever taken by some distance, so I'll take it, ever so slightly soft though it unfortunately is. Lovely weather, and when the Redstart action became all too much, I fell asleep in the sunshine. You can't beat birding in June!

PS An explanation of yesterday's post about Mistle Thrushes, as it appears to have confused some. Desperate for a London tick, I dashed to Rickmansworth on Wednesday afternoon in order to see the Little Bittern. I saw it in flight for approximately 4 seconds, but it was it, and I sent a few tweets (what a great word, oh yes...) saying I'd seen it. Not one but two people texted or tweeted back asking me how I had ruled out Mistle Thrush. I mean, please. Whether they were being serious or not only they can say, I know what I think though - if I have maligned, then, er, too late. Anyhow, there are some things I might confuse, and some things I might not. Mistle Thrush and Little Bittern come into the latter category, and so I thought I might respond with some light sarcasm, and that's what you got yesterday. It's always tough when you know only a handful of people will know what you're talking about, but I enjoyed it, and as I've mentioned before, that counts for a lot on here. Nonethess, sorry if it appeared a little left field, as one correspondent put it. Now that you know, go back and read it again, as it will be a lot funnier.

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