Wednesday 5 August 2020

A well timed phone call

On Monday I was in the kitchen when my phone went off. I was expecting it to be my mother but actually it was Nick. This was good news in several senses, and I picked it up straight away.

"I've got a big raptor over one of the towers, might be a Marsh Harrier" (or words to that effect)

I dashed upstairs to the turret where my bins were located and where I would get the best view. Scanning, scanning, and then suddenly there it was. Not a Buzzard! Quick, camera! I dropped the phone and ran for the camera, which is always close at hand luckily. Fired it up and dashed back to the balcony. Gone! Dagnabit!! Oh no, still there, good grief nearly directly overhead. Click, click, click, camera seems a bit unresponsive, shutter sounds very slow, whatever, should be good enough.

Click click click - by now it had cleared the house and was heading east rapidly. I ran through the bedroom to the other side of the house but the bird was already becoming a dot over the Park. Blink and you miss it. So what did I have, what had just flown over? A Harrier most likely but never discount Black Kite I suppose.

Well, I had a series of mostly blurry blobs. The camera had last been used at the weekend, and dangling at my side the aperture had dialled itself up all the way to f22 causing crazily low shutter speeds as the camera tried to compensate. No wonder it had sounded odd! In the heat of the moment I had just dialled in some exposure compensation for the light sky and fired away without even thinking about it. Oops. Still, one or two were salvageable and did indeed show a Marsh Harrier, the most compelling of which is below.

I phoned Nick back with the good news and a grateful promise of beer/wine etc. Ooof! Marsh Harrier on the garden list, and only my second record for Wanstead, the first one being last October when Bob, Tony, James and I all went a bit mad in the brooms early one morning. But I had never imagined I would get it on the garden list - this is now #89, and my seventh new garden bird of 2020. Working from home is excellent!

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