Friday, 13 January 2012

Back on the road again

A 600 mile circuit held great prospects for a few good birds. Had felt confident to find a couple of slots within the two days but, as all too often, work got in the way and my bins didnt even emerge till the second day.
A night trip across from Devon to Essex was beautiful with a rising moon but was spoilt by a lack of Barn Owls on Salisbury Plain (i have seen up to 5 some nights) and by spurs winning on the radio.
Nothing in Essex nor Suffolk even though i must have been within spitting distance of the Waxwings in Ipswich - doubt they will make them onto my work list this winter then having been there the past 2 years.
Sleeping in Cambridge I had been wishing for a swing north towards Rough-leg territory but not to be. All i had to console was a flock of grey geese which had my hopes up, but as i went 360 round the next roundabout to have a quick look and i knew what they would be - next to Huntingdon race course? Yup Greylags. 2012 wasnt looking good but a bit further - less than 2 miles from my destination and with 20 minutes to spare i came across this place?
..Stanwick lakes. Ever heard of them? Nope neither had I but it was a string of gravel pits and as with all of these places anywhere in the country outside of Devon, they were packed with duck! Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall and a bunch of lovely Goldeneye...what a bird - i can never make up my mind if I prefer the male or the duck...both super cool.
Work then and driving again but with a choice...I had an hour of daylight so where to spend it....3 choices of about the same drive time - Oxford to Newbury then try and find the Short eared owls on Salisbury Plain (gona be tough but nice birds, winter evening etc.). Second would be to go straight thru Newbury and twitch this Junco and come home throgh Dorset but to be honest who really wants to travel 2 hours to a stake out. Then tick an ,albeit quite cute, finch that would probably hop up on a log and hop back down again. Not my scene, dont think there are even any Brambling to make it tempting. So my final choice...even though it hadnt been seen for 2 days, it was going to to drive towards Bristol and try for the Yellowlegs that was 5 minutes off the M5 near Taunton...risky, tide dependent etc...
Onto the Avon bridge & i tell myself, low tide & i dont go. Bugger i dont think i have ever seen the tide that low!!! But of course the temptation was too great, Birdguides still didnt have it reports but i had to have a go, so off i turn and figure out where to go.
Got lucky and found a road exactly to the creek, was my luck swinging - but which bank? I chose south and promptly saw the only birders on the other side looking away from me. Hmmm...
Anyway, lovely saltmarsh, beautiful winter evening and not a soul, my type of place and potential twitch.

But no bird!!! I walk out to the pond, look at the silhouettes of Redshank out in the Severn and realise i wasnt gonna be lucky. I did doubt it had gone, why should it so on the way back i check the last bend i hadnt been able to view and there with a few Redshank was what i was sure would turn out to the Lesser Yellowlegs. A bit a fieldcraft (hard when Redshank are involved) and i eventually get reasonable views of this very nice bird, a Wood Sandpiper crossed with a shank & easy to pick out. Cool, quite fancy going back for another look with a scope though.

So first trip of the year and off we go again!