Just back from a day at the Rutland Bird Fair, and as usual had a great time.
Weather forecast over the last few days did not look good, but in the end it was generally warm, with cloudy spells and a few brief showers. Did get rather warm and humid in the marquees though, especially towards the end of the afternoon.
Spent a fair bit of time early on checking out the optics-I am looking out for a pair of close focussing lightweight bins. Used the Leica Ultravids as a basis, in particular the 8x32, though I quite liked the 7x42 and 10x50's even though neither would be called compact, but they both felt good in the hands and suited my eyes. The most interesting though was the Swarovski 8.5x42 Swarovisions. They have had a mixed reception, with a lot of people complaining about motion sickness. Did not experience that in my brief test, but I was extremely impressed with the handling and the performance. I think they are currently my favourites. Would have liked to have tried the new Nikons but they were in a cabinet and not available for testing.
Picked up the usual selection of leaflets and brochures offering all sorts of trips, holidays and so on. Ended up with two new books-the latest Lewington Butterflies of Britain and Ireland, and Duivendijk's Advanced Bird ID Guide (not exactly light reading, but looks to be useful). Bird Life were actually giving away some of their publications and I got Raptor Watch-gave them a fiver as I was almost out of money by then.
Stopped off for the usual laugh of Just a Linnet in the lecture Marquee, but everything was over running so there were a few technical problems. Did not like the way the marquee was shaking in the wind.
One new toy-I finally have a flash gun, a week too late but there you go. Took advantage of the show prices to pick up an SB900 with almost £100 pounds off.
Did a little bit of birding. While on the Zeiss stand we picked up a distant raptor-grabbing a spare scope we had decent views of one of the Ospreys, which have tended to frequent the southern arm of the reservoir. Usual selection of ducks and geese-loads of loafing Egyptians soon to be as abundant as feral Canadas and Greylags I think. A few terns were Common-with Blacks turning up inland, I was hoping to pick one or two up. A Whinchat from the Anglian Water Centre, and a couple of Common Sandpipers were the only migrants I could find. Lots of hirundines still, mainly Swallow and Sand Martin from what I could see. The Tree Sparrow hide had, as usual no Tree Sparrows, but lots of Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Pheasant. A Marsh Tit was a bonus and a nice surprise for many.Single flyby Hobby and Red Kite and Kestrel on the way back were the only other raptors noted.