Friday, 15 April 2011

New Toys and a Friday Off

 Bought some new toys recently-a Nikon D3S body and a Zeiss 35mm f2 lens. Had the day off today to do some birding and things and see how they work-my initial tests last week were very promising.
 Last year, a White Spotted Bluethroat was on territory at Welney for most of the Spring, and it has come back. The reserve has been opening early to accommodate Bluethroat twitchers, and we arrived not long after 7am.
 Got down to Lyle hide to see one or two birders looking at a speck in a sallow, and I thought I heard a snatch of song before it dropped out of sight. About twenty minutes later, one or two got a glimpse of the Bluethroat low down in the bank vegetation, but I could not get on it. My first Reed Warbler, and a lot of singing Sedge Warblers was not much compensation. We spent a while in one of the hides overlooking the bank in the hope of picking it up with no joy. A few Avocets on the pools, and decent numbers of Black Tail Godwits, some Dunlin and frequent flyby and drumming Snipe helped pass the time.
 Around 1020 we made our way back to the Lyle path, and not long after, the Bluethroat flew over Colin's shoulder and down in front of one of the small fibreglass hides. It was elusive initially but eventually came out and started singing. We were rather pleased at the performance it put on for us.

To put it mildly, I have never had such good views of a Spring Bluethroat. A nice start with my new camera.
 On the way back, we encountered several Green Veined White butterflies, my first House Martins from the observatory, and several Yellow Wagtails.
 The Ouse Washes Blue Winged Teal was back on the pagers last night and was reported again today, so we headed off to see it.
 On arrival at Welches Dam hide we were rather disappointed to discover that it was sleeping with some Shoveller. However, from time to time it did lift its head. I had to use the 500mm lens with both 1.4 and 2x converters to get an image.

  There were hardly any duck left, compared to two weeks ago, and no waders apart from a few Lapwing, Redshank and Oystercatchers, and the pair of Little Ring Plovers.
 Just outside the hide a hunting Kestrel payed us no attention. This is with the manual focus 500mm and both converters!

Our final destination was Haley Wood in Cambridgeshire. We were there last year for the Bluebells and Early Purple Orchids. This year the spring is slightly more advanced, and some of the orchids were in flower though the Bluebells are not quite at their best yet. We also saw a lot of Cowslips, and what I presume to be Oxlips.
 Photos will follow later.

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