Sunday 29 January 2017

Snowy Egret

Blogging is great isn't it? I think I have almost reached the zenith, whereby I flip open the laptop and write down everything I've done recently in the mistaken belief that anyone cares. I went here, I saw this, I went home. This is bird blogging as it is meant to be. And you wonder why it is on the way out... and this is today's offering I am afraid, as the last few days have been rather uneventful. Don't forget the 'back' button.

So.....I nipped out yesterday afternoon in order to avoid cabin fever. My destination, Loch Leven RSPB. No reason really, I just wanted to see some birds. Any birds. I didn't get out until about 2pm, there is a lot of stuff that needs doing in the ancestral home at the moment. It was a nasty day, drizzle and quite windy, and as I crossed over to Perthshire it started to snow - not the best birding weather but I didn't care, it was just nice to be out. I've not been to Loch Leven for quite a few years, my usual destination when I am up here is the coast. I crossed through the tunnel that takes you under the road and wandered down the muddy path to the first hide.

No birds. Not one. I could make out the shapes of distant Swans further away on the loch, and lots of duck, but in terms of birds right there? Nada. The second and third hides were the same. Two Black-headed Gulls and a Mallard in 800m. Glacial, driving sleet, and nothing to see. Any nacsent birders visiting Loch Leven yesterday would have ditched their binoculars there and then and taken up golf. Or knitting. I retreated to the visitor centre and went up to the top floor to warm up. They have a few telescopes bolted to the windows, and despite the fact I knew there was nothing there I idly fired one up and started scanning.... Yes, there was the Mallard, phew. Only one Gull left, you can't win them all. Oh, a white blob on the next scrape, that's where it is. Better check it, just in case.

WAAAAAHHHHH!! It's only a bloody Little Egret! I know what you're thinking. Dross. Down south maybe, but up here it's a rare bird. No doubt it will become common as the species inexorably conquers the entire world, but in 2017 it's still a good record. I've been birding in Scotland a lot and this is the first I've ever seen. No doubt had I been chasing a list I would have seen one some time ago, but ex-Shetland my birding up here tends to be a pretty casual affair. To put this in context, I've seen Spoonbill and Hoopoe in eastern Scotland, and you would easily say that Little Egret is by some magnitude commoner than either of those. Very pleasing, and turned a turgid excursion into a downright success. Needless to say it didn't look happy. The flood was mostly frozen and it was just stood there, hunched up and doing nothing whilst the snow settled on the ice. You would think that at some point these pioneering species would reach a point where they stopped, thought about it for a while, and then decided that enough was enough and actually it would be better if they retreated a bit. This Little Egret looked like that was on the cards. 

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