Monday, 24 December 2007

Quick trip ticking!

Today I was able to get out for the first time in what seemed like ages. However it was only for a maximum of three hours at midday. I was contemplating this over RBA last night formulating my plan of attack on the avifauna of suffolk. I decided on Slavonian Grebe at Alton Water and Peregrine Falcon at the river Orwell bridge as my target year ticks for the trip.
I pulled into the wonder car park at Alton Water after a 20min car journey. After hurridly making the quater mile walk to the hide at tattingstone wonder bay in record time, i was pleased to see they had erected a new screen hide looking over part of the like the original hide didn't. After five minutes of scanning with the scope, grilling every great crested grebe my dad calls the birds over near the far bank of the lake, sticking the TSN-3 on 60X zoom I scanned over to where my dad was pointing and found two winter plumaged Slavonian Grebes. Much cleaner cut then the accompianing great cresteds, slavonians always brighten up a days birding with there crisp colours. Some more scanning amongst the assorted flocks of tufties and pochard revealed a rather bright female red crested pochard. This was a self found lifer for me and about as wild as you are likely to find with these birds!
Deciding to push my luck I travelled to the Orwell bridge for the wintering Peregrine Falcon. Before I got more then 5 metres down the footpath my dad stopped (again) to call out a bird by a green buoy far out in the middle of the Orwell. Cracking the scope out on the bird I was delighted to be greeted by the vaguely reptiliean jizz of a Diver. Identification was quickly confirmed as a Black Throated Diver probably the one that was reported yesterday further down river. My second lifer of the day in under two hours! I passed into the lee of the bridge for a respite from the wind. Scanning with the scope produced a bird which at first I presumed to be just a 'runt' Cormorant. However with the lack of any action on the Peregrine front, i took more interest in this bird. It's neck was extremely thin and the head small and crested for a cormorant. The bird unfortunately wasn't available for close comparison with other cormorants and I was satisfied with runt cormorant as the identification as it looked very dark coloured for a shag. However I was distractred from this by a huge flock of feral pigeons and rooks, exploding from the docks! I scanned and scanned but to no avail for a Peregrine until the flock was nearly settled again, when circling high above was a the Peregrine! I switched to scope views as the bird stooped on the pigeons, missed them all, tussled with some rooks and flew back to its perch on the supports of the bridge. Fantastic!
Getting back home and checking the Collins Bird Guide and the Birdguides photo gallery, convinced me i was looking at an adult winter shag, with the poor light making the bird seem so dark.
2 lifers and 5 Year ticks in three hours not bad! (220/205) and i momentarily draw ahead of jyothi on surfbirds listing!

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