Sunday 10 November 2013

Pretty Pied for a White Guy

For once the Birding Gods smiled, and a bird was found on a Saturday that remained present on a Sunday. Jupiter aligned with Mars, the weather was fine, I had a car, and Mrs L didn't have a concert on. Rumours that Hell has frozen over are being investigated. Anyway, it all turned out nicely, and after a nice little doze in bed the tweet I was secretly hoping for materialised - "Pied Wheatear still present Notts..." A Wheatear, fantastic, and only two hours away too. I made plans with the Monkey and Shaun, and met up with them near the MaccyDs on the Harlow exit. I haven't seen these guys for ages and ages, so the journey passed really quickly what with all the nattering, piss-taking, birding tales, moaning, laughing and general nonsense.

Shaun tried to string it as soon as we got there, and then I made the mistake of listening to some old dear attempting to give directions to what may or may not have been the bird. I favour the latter, as it's possible she was having trouble distinguishing between Gulls and [white...] Swans. Eventually one chap near me did get on it distantly, and gave some decent directions - Get in! Would have been disappointing had that been the only view, but the bird did the right thing and came a lot closer, at one stage parading along a relatively close shingle ridge. A lovely little bird, not as dark as I expected, I can see why Black-eared got a mention at one stage during the ID process yesterday.

Decent light, so I thought I'd whack on not one but both teleconverters, separated by the small extension tube - approx 1800mm in old money, and at f11 so not ideal but the light was good. Manual focussing, and manual exposure too as the camera only recognises one, but I'm relatively impressed given all the glass involved. It seems that the resulting images lack the usual punch and definition, but it's a potentially useable set-up for sure. Nowhere near as good as the Izzy Wheatear in Wales, but that bird was just a dream!

The drive home was punctuated by a Glossy Ibis and some Monkey-style driving which saw us briefly head towards Nottingham, but we were soon safely back in the big smoke. But what's this small yellow sticker on my windscreen? Oh you bastards. Yep, North Weald Council has decided that a convenient layby near the M11 is in fact a nice little earner, and so although I saved 30 quid in petrol by jumping in with the lads, I'm contributing 25 of that to the local firework display. Took the shine off an otherwise top day out, but I can't grumble. No idea when they changed it, but fair enough, it is signed. There's dick all reason for it to be a "30 minutes max" parking area though. Well, there is one reason.....

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