22 February, 2016

Getting Out More

Taking my own advice [look down, or maybe not..] yesterday I finally decided enough was enough and some proper birding had to be done.

Well, it was that or give the carpets a proper cleaning...

So I went off to do something nice and gentle and toddled over to the Exe to have another go at getting a better [ie under 1km] view of the Ridgway's Cackling Goose that's been wintering.

Setting off under leaden skies and gusty wind, I must admit to not having been too hopeful, but after crossing the Haldon Hills I found miraculous sunshine. Parking at RVP I was shocked to see no less than 17° on my li'l car's thermometer - though the stiff breeze made that a very variable experience.

Heading back over the canal, I started to follow the path around Matford. The main pools are in the angle of two main roads coming off the Matford roundabout, so starting from the road to the Exe you can view three sides with varying degrees of distance height and obstruction - checking the rushy bits near the thatched cottage from as many angles as I could. This was necessary as picking out a teeny goose from amongst the maze of rushes and wet bits is not easy.

There were the usual array of waterfowl on display [including 2 Gadwall], but no sign of the RCG until I got quite close to the thatched cottage and then..

Ridgway's Cackling Goose
That's the perimter fence there. To those who know the site, it was between the big oak and the gate [that's very close!]. This shot was taken after I'd backed off about 50' and was scoping through bushes. It was still looking right at me - note the eyeshine.

This gorgeous little goose was with 3 Mallards, grazing on the lush grass, but unlike the laid-back ducks, oh was it alert! I'd been moving slowly and carefully and had seen it first, but still it was head up and watching me.
Very soon a couple of dog walkers came by and woosh they were back in the rushes.

Taking the opportunity, I moved past them to the other side of the little bridge over the stream - thinking the cover and distance would let the birds relax and come back out. Come out? Yes. Relax? Not for a second. The Ridgway's was keeping an eye on me the whole time I was there. Anyone came past and it was head up, frozen, tracking them past.

Time for more pics...

Spot the goose

 Still keeping an eye on me

It was dinky!

Very rufous breast 
- this from thin fringes, visible when it wingflapped 

As the bird wasn't going to relax, I backed off and had lunch watching the other pool from the surprisingly exposed to all winds viewing platform. There were 123 Wigeon [I had time to count] and 11 Shoveler on view, and a poor Buzzard got mugged by no less than 5 Crows..

Heading back with as much stealth as the terrain allowed, the Ridgway's and friends had come back onto the grass, but it still wasn't dropping it's guard. I left them to it. 

 In softer light, with more realistic depiction of barring

With daylight left, I had a quick look at the RVP pools, where some very thoughtful felling has made one of the blinds quite quite redundant.. On the 'good' pool, a flock of Wigeon lifted off for the watermeadows before I could get to count them [about a hundred, though], but they left a Green Sand - which was coming into s/pl by the spangly look of it.

So, mission an absolute success. It took fortune, fieldcraft, patience, and not too many passing civilians, mind, but the views were something else!

That's right, a Canada sp. worth looking at. I know it will get binned by 'the committee', but that's only due to NIN - this is a bird worth seeing.

Oh, and speaking of the Powers That Be, a major CONGRATULATIONS! to The Boss and The Artist, for No. 600.

Be Seeing You..

[[At least there are some birds we're allowed to see on this side of the country]]

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