Only the second time we've dipped on a twitch (the Belted Kingfisher doesn't count as we saw it in Scotland a few days later), the other was a Brown Flycatcher in Yorkshire. This was a biggie though, the first twitchable Dusky Thrush since 1959. It was 7.30 a.m., only 30 miles from Margate when the pager messaged the dreaded 'no sign of'.
Turning round at Medway Services, and our first ever visit to a Greggs for breakfast, we drove to Lakenheath RSPB. I'd mooted a visit and it was only a small detour on the way home.
The car park was packed at 10ish, including two big coaches, two staff were needed on parking duty. One of them allowed us - as before - to drive as far as the railway crossing, which is a good mile's walk from the centre. Bliss, as that mile is pretty unproductive.
The open viewing hide overlooking New Fen was packed too, a couple of dozen birders standing outside. I was lucky to find a seat on the bench, Pam only had to wait 10 minutes or so to sit beside me. The adult male Red-footed Falcon was perches as far away as he could get, on a tree stump in the reeds, the heat haze making scoping difficult. It was shirt-sleeve weather, blue sky with some high towering cloud.
Twenty minutes later, I was transfixed by the awesome, exhilarating, acrobatic and lightning fast hunting display of the Falcon. Fantastic. I shot nearly 200 images, the sound of umpteen camera shutters was like machine gun fire in the attempt to follow, focus on and catch a whole bird image. Everyone's automatic exposure was malfunctioning due to the bird's speed, it's unforseeable change of flight direction - and focusing on the background, sometimes water/reed/trees, instead of the bird. Into the light too.....I was not surprised to delete virtually all the images when I got home. Disappointed that I hadn't got any that I was happy with, after so enjoying the experience. I read Penny's Blog, she took 620 images and deleted nearly all. She did get better ones than I though.
|If these were the best I managed, I leave it to your imagination as to how bad the others were !|
When was the last time that Hobbys were the distant runner up attraction? Such lovely birds. Pam counted ten in the air at once, I managed 5 in a short respite from peering through my camera view-finder.
The Falcon disappeared for a rest and to digest all the insects it had caught. We walked about a mile to the distant copse, hoping to hear Golden Oriole. Far too late in the day for that, plenty of song from Cuckoo, Reed and Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats.
Leaving at 1.30, we dropped in at Weeting NWT in the hope of a Stone Curlew. Reaching the packed hide, the head of a sitting bird on the far ridge was pointed out to us! Even through my scope it was difficult to believe that it wasn't a stone - then it moved a little. Underwhelmed, we shopped in Thetford Sainsbury , arriving home in time to do some chores before the last footy of the season at 4.00.
How could Man U draw 5-5, a score never before achieved in Premiership history, after leading by two goals on two occasions ! A fitting first for Sir A's last match in charge but a win was preferable.