Monday, 30 January 2012

Winter sets in

I left home a tad too early this morning, its a lot brighter now as I write this. When I left home it was very gloomy and we were experiencing a few wintery showers which persuaded me to leave my camera behind due to the poor light - that was a mistake.
It seems that winter is due to set in very cold for the next couple of weeks at least, personally not something to be glad of but I assume the few birdwatchers that have been calling for a bit of proper winter will no doubt be trying to get a day off work in order to get their share of being cold. For me, well perhaps a spell of indoors hibernation is on the cards.

Arriving at the reserve barn and getting out of the car, both the biting cold temperature and the damp gloominess didn't make a wander round seem very inviting and as the NE wind began to freshen shortly after, that's how it turned out, it wasn't a long spell out. I decided to head in a straight line across the grazing marsh and up on to the seawall and was surprised when I got halfway across the field to find that what I thought with the naked eye was a line of soil alongside one of the new rills, was in fact the flock of around 70 White-fronted Geese that's been back for a few days. I decided to attempt going round them and so carried on walking outwards across the field as the geese became increasingly vocal. I was surprised given their wild and nervous nature how close I was able pass them by and how all they did was to simply walk away from me. I passed by only around 60-80 yds away and given that the two dogs were running free in front of me it was even more surprising, somewhat dispelling some of the complaints about dogs in the countryside, although I guess I was keeping them in check. Despite the poor light, getting that close was a great opportunity for even my little camera to record the scene and I cursed greatly when realising it was back indoors!
Here I also have to be honest and record an unpleasant and harrowing sight. About a hundred yards away from the flock there was a single Whitefront walking round and calling and a quick look through the binoculars showed that it had a damaged and trailing wing. The result of being shot at? probably a safe bet, but who knows. Anyway as it continued to call, another goose flew up from the main flock and went and joined the other bird, with much exchange of sound between them - almost certainly its mate and they stayed together away from the flock. Clearly the injured bird couldn't fly any distance and at some stage in the near future its mate will have to make the decision on whether it departs with the rest of the flock or stays behind. Perhaps we shouldn't transfer human thoughts into these birds, but its hard not too and it makes supporting shooting very difficult.

About an hour later as I turned back onto the marsh further along, blow me down if I didn't then also get amazingly close to a flock of around 130 Greylag Geese grazing on what grass was left - another great camera shot gone begging!
Yesterday at long last, the water that has been pumped into The Flood scrape finally bore fruit as I spotted 130 Teal in there. Having only seen mainly ones and twos of Teal all winter that was a real treat and hopefully they'll hang around for a bit now. The inland duck shooting finishes tomorrow night so they won't have that problem to face and there is only then three weeks of wildfowl shooting left below the high water mark on the saltings.

Getting back to the cold weather, I was surprised at coming back past Capel Hill farm on the Harty Road, to see two pairs of new born lambs, poor things. I don't think the main batch of lambing there is due for a few weeks yet so possibly one ram sneaked in a bit early without anyone noticing - except for the two ewes that is!


  1. Always take your camera Derek, a mistake I have made in the past. I bet the lambs had a shock, not the warm sunshine I bet they were hoping for!

  2. Glad the flood has finally got something on it Derek, I'm trying hard to find a job at the minute but still hoping to come and find you soon, may be when it warms up a bit for you. Cheers Alan.

  3. Another great account on the patch Derek shame the camera stayed at home with the close proximity of the White Fronts.It seems the blog is allowing comments again.

  4. Alan, lets hope that a job comes along quickly, that's the most important thing, the reserve will always be there to visit and at the moment is looking pretty bare.
    Marc/Mike, leaving the camera behind was a blow, although its not an expensive piece of kit, its normally always with me and would of captured that scene OK.