Saturday, 26 November 2011

Bean Too Quick Off The Mark!

Set out north on Thursday with Tony Bowman, back over from D&G visiting kin-folk in the bayou. We headed out specifically to look for Bean Geese and we weren't disappointed. We stopped just over the railway line at Little Mill to pick the bones out of a finch flock and spotted four grey geese in the distance two or three fields over to the north. Scopes up and bang, four 'bean geese'. Remarkably when we drove around and repositioned ourselves a little over 100m away they had flown off and been replaced by four Pink-footed Geese in the exact same part of the field. One can only assume the feeding must have been particularly good at that spot!

A few fields west and we picked out a small huddle of grey geese this time perhaps 20-25 strong again at perhaps only 150m distance. Staying low out the car we managed both not to spook them and to get some half-decent views of at least two Bean Geese. The next half hour was spent debating the racial ID of one of these; whilst one was clearly a nailed on 'Tundra' the other showed a bill pattern with more extensive orange running back along the upper mandible. The lie of the land ensured no views of the legs or the tail pattern so head and bill shape, bill pattern and general head/neck colouration were all we had to go on. We did have 12 European White-fronted Geese and a few Greylags for company and comparison. Having done a little more reading tonight I'm back to thinking this was a male and female Tundra though as the bill shape and head profile still seem to fit that race better to my mind.

Next stop Boulmer which was tame in a Grey Plover/Bar-tailed Godwit kind of way.

We broke for lunch at East Chevington, where there appeared to be a significant reduction in numbers from recent days, though nine Pintail were as always nice to see. A search for the Green-winged Teal on the south pool proved fruitless, though this was basically because it was on the north pool, something we discovered just as we were about to tuck into a welsh scone. Back up the path and we were able to deliver it (the teal rather than the scone) to a lady with one of those Zeiss Photoscopes (first one I've seen being used in anger outside of the birdfair) as a lifer. I had a quick glance through the scope and tbh if I had a spare 2.5k....

A short wait at Cresswell provided further views of the Greater Stickleback Ripper as it appeared  from the reeds in a passable Mr-Benn emerging from his shop impression and devoured several of said fishies very rapidly. Didn't look too keen on swallowing though but then I couldn't really say how difficult it is to swallow sticklebacks can you?

The other highlight of the day was picking up two Hen Harriers hunting the same area, a male and a ringtail, that afforded excellent views for a few minutes before departing in opposite directions to each other.

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