Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Productive Days

Tuesday September 16

Yesterday's very busy pager, reporting the many migrants along the east coast during a spell of easterlies with coastal fog, was frustrating. I was busy harvesting, shucking, blanching, cutting off the kernels and freezing corn cobs.
After a moth trapping session at Natural Surroundings, full of hope, we set off for Garden Drove, east of Wells. Which one of the 'unsafe for vehicles' tracks north is Garden Drove? Not marked on the very large scale map book nor on the track itself. Local folklore! Fortunately, distant memory took us to the right one. In the 80s we had been able to drive right down to the gate onto the marsh where there was just enough room to turn and park. Nowadays, one has to park on the concrete pad at the end of the driveable section, keeping field entrances clear. The 200-300 metre track down to the marsh is narrow,  heavily rutted, lined by mature trees and shrubs, giving  dodgy walking conditions for the elderly unsure of foot. We hadn't expected to see as many parked cars nor the numbers of birders - mostly older  - scattered around the tree belt lining the marsh.
Nearing the gate, Dave H ran past telling us that two Honey Buzzards were over the marsh. We didn't run.......couldn't. We got there in time to see one gliding away across the tree-tops.Phew. Time to look for and see, two Red-breasted Flycatchers, our first Spotted Flycatcher of the year (!) and make a hasty retreat back to the car for a drive to the toilet block at Wells. No bush stops to-day, too many birders. I would have liked to have seen the male Redstart further on down the track. We took the upper way back, along the field edge, which was much better walking. 
Relieved, we drove to Salthouse, parking in the track leading to Kelling Quags. 300 yards down the track, a few birders gazed at a willow thicket. We joined them. I'd taken a stool this time so could wait in relative comfort. A beautiful Yellow-browed Warbler fed,  restlessly flitting through the centre and back of the willows. I had very good binocular views, probably the most prolonged ever, at a comfortable viewing height. None of the usual painful neck craning. The many branches impeding camera viewing and focusing meant that I had not even tried a shot. Suddenly, the bird appeared in a clearer area. I pressed the shutter .......nothing. Hm, I only changed the battery last week when nothing showed in the display. I did so again when I got home, still nothing. Despond, the electrics must have died.Never had a camera go wrong before and it's only 3-4 years old. Worse... I've carried it all day to no avail. Just as well I didn't have the possibility of achieving the crippling shots Penny C has on her Blog.
Plenty of birders' rumours abounded to-day. The buzzards were Common - someone had a photo purporting to be of a Honey. It wasn't. There certainly were both sorts there.
The reported  Icterine Warbler at Garden Drove - another photograph reporting - was a Willow Warbler. And so it goes on. Men's stuff. Some seem to delight in bad mouthing other birders, Lee came in for more than his fair share of this. He was there to-day, scoffing at the 'I can see wingbars' etc plus other calls - of the same bird, which was a mooted Barred Warbler when it was the often confused, juvenile Garden Warbler. Part of birding which we walk away from.

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