Monday, February 19, 2007

Sunday am, Woodwalton Fen

Assistant editor Mike Weedon writes (with help from guest Will Bowell):

Hen Harrier, digiscoped at about 500m using Kevin 'Pinky' Du Rose's patent elastic band and key-ring 'adapter'...
All with Canon PowerShot A95 with Kowa TSN-823M + 32xW
(click photo for bigger version)

Had a very pleasant (though annoyingly cold) morning at Woodwalton Fen NNR, Cambs, with Ray and Will Bowell yesterday (18.2.07). Will tells the tale on his website, so I thought I'd just rip it off (blame any grammatical errors and spelling quirks on him not Bird Watching Magazine):

"Woodwalton wanders
Had a fairly early start, picking up the Doctor [that's Will's term for me] at just gone 8, we headed south to Woodwalton Fen. The plan was to sit it out in the hide overlooking Gordon's Mere on the reserve in the hope of being rewarded with views of Bittern, as demonstrated in Nigel Triggs' photos, which can be viewed here.
On the way to the hide, a couple of Lesser Redpolls flew over; a PBC year tick for me at least. We spent a couple of hours in the hide; a Cetti's Warbler burst into song by the side of the hide and showed well in the bushes, before disappearing. This is actually only the second I have ever had in the PBC area! An hour or so later, a Bittern came in, landing in the middle of reeds out of view as per usual. Two PBC elite species in the space of couple of hours, all from one hide!
After waiting for a while, to see if the Bittern would come to the edge of the reeds (it didn't), we decided to move to the north of the reserve to look for the Hen Harrier which has been coming into roost there.
Immediately on arrival at the North Hide, a female Marsh Harrier flew by and not long after that Mike picked up a ring-tailed Hen Harrier flying at the back. It landed in a tree, giving Mike and me a chance to have a go at some extreme digiscoping, at distance.
After the Harrier flew off to the north, we headed back towards the central track. On the way, near the bungalow in the middle of the reserve, we bumped into a couple and their grandchild. Clearly none birders, they greeted us with "Are you trained, expert bird spotter people?" They then went onto describe a "starling sized bird with a crest feeding on berries."
The description was perfect for Waxwing, all we need to know now was where. We glanced towards the general direction they were talking about and amazingly a pair of Waxwings we sat in the top of one of the tallest trees near the bungalow. Both birds dropped down eventually but despite a lot of searching we couldn't relocate them so didn't get the hoped for screan filling photos.
Eventually we gave up and headed home rather happy with an extremely successful morning's birding"

Gadwalls at speed by Mike Weedon

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