Thursday, 12 April 2012

The Egret has Landed

Done little real birding lately, real as in seeing much of any interest! One of the most exciting moments this week was watching a weird raptor over the house. I was busy swearing at the laptop (bloody Windows!) when this thing got closer, flying parallel to the window, and my super sixth-sense kicked in. To put it bluntly I thought "What the **** is that!?!". Osprey? Kite? Rough-legged Buzzard?

I did some Olympic-grade parkour to get downstairs and rushed out the back door, grabbing the bins on the way. Fortunately there were no children or old people en route or they would be flat. On relocating this avian mystery I was a tad disappointed to find it was a very pale Common Buzzard with 90% of it's tail feathers missing - hence the v weird flight. It powered on north in shame to go and re-grow it's end bits before suffering any mews of derision from the local birds. 

Pwllheli harbour has been virtually dead - really dead, apart from a few Redshank... while down here the local Red-legged Chough, Ravens, Yellowhammers are all present and correct and there have been no huge falls of migrants.

Anyway, I've been receiving a lot of flak recently from various people about the lack of images on this blog - notably Mr Stringer... as if my well-crafted words are not enough... so have decided to do something about it! I have a little experience of digiscoping, mostly traumatic. I got caught up in the hype during the first flush of digiscoping in 2003 (the digital equivalent to the Mesolithic) and bought a second-hand Nikon Coolpix 990 3.34 megapixel from the lovely folk at Cambrian Photography for £300 (yes really) which I considered an absolute bargain!! Years of half decent images of people and places were the result plus loads of terrible birds. The probable Blyth's Reed Warbler in Porth Meudwy a few years ago is a case in point. Point, click, fail to photograph it!!! I kept losing adaptors, batteries got flat and the lens got greasy. Arrgh! Fortunately it expired a while ago to my immense relief.

The cunning long-term Plan A is to purchase a nice DSLR with huge lens as the images are the very best and at least I'll be able to answer Joe Public with a yes if they ask me if I take photographs when out birdspotting and mistake my scope for a camera. Problem is they're rather expensive -  as in new family car prices! I've contemplated selling body parts (my own I must state!) - but doubt I'd get much for anything I put in the medical bargain basement of eBay, am still hoping and waiting to meet a (very hot young) wealthy birder woman to subsidise my photographic fantasies...and for some reason Canon and Nikon still refuse to long-term loan me one of their bazooka lenses.

So time for Plan B and yesterday I popped into Curry's Bangor and bought a new Panasonic Lumix camera. My God it felt so wrong, knowing it would be out of date before leaving the shop and I would still miss loads of birds and take hundreds of shaky blurred images!

Having tucked the shiny gadget in my pocket I  headed east towards Llanfairfechan and the great little reserve at Morfa Madryn Local Nature Reserve. On parking up a Wood Nuthatch was calling by the sewage works and my first Willow Warbler of the year was singing away.

I do like Madryn. Comfy oak and pine hides have been well placed and designed for people with scopes and long legs. Point-blank views of calling, gallivanting, floppy-winged Lapwings are guaranteed in the Spring, lots of waders roost at each high tide and wildfowl, grebes and divers all winter offshore. The Cornchiwglen were "pee-witting" away, doing a spot of foot-pattering to bring the worms to the surface in the wet grassland and Skylarks were singing overhead.

The spit where the waders roost held 250 Curlew (quite a lot for such a late date in the Spring) while 59 Redshank were on the lower pool plus a couple of Ringed Plover. I met a lovely woman and her daughter on their first visit to the reserve who were also charmed by the birds and were blown away with scope views of their first couple of very plumey Little Egrets.Great birds, albeit common as muck these days.

So here's one of them, and If I've ever gently taken the Mickey out of any of your photos dear fellow bloggers/readers you're very welcome to do the same!


  1. Very good indeed for your first attempt ! Is that just hand held ?.....You need photoshop now !

    Are we going to see more pics now then ?

  2. Yes just shaky hand held and did not bother to crop it (long day, I was tired). Did consider changing the lore colour to see if anyone might notice it was just a Snowy Egret.

    And sure, if I remember to pack the camera, there's more to follow :-D