Thursday, 19 February 2015

A regularly seen bird totally out of context today

The Safari was going to blog about all the shameful and nasty things we Humans are doing to the natural world at the mo; you know, the world we we rely on for our life support systems - There is no Planet B. But that would have been dismal and depressing. Instead today's blurb is now far more uplifting and beautiful rather than the blood, guts and destruction you were going to get. So enjoy what the natural can really offer us, something good for our souls, something to make our minds wonder, something to simply enjoy just because it IS. Something that's not for our blood lust and/or profit.
We've been following the progress a Red Throated Diver on the marine lake not too far from work. Stunning pics of it appeared on the social media networks last night so we hoped it would still be there this morning. It was news was released early by Young Un AB presumably on his way college. At lunchtime we took a longer than usual break and drove the three miles or so down there and promptly parked up in totally the wrong place. We should  have gone all the way into the far car park but opted for the bowling green car park in the centre of the site instead. A walk to the water’s edge didn’t reveal our quarry, maybe it was behind the island, We walked to our left to the cafĂ© to get a better look at the far side of the island – it was then we heard a knocking on the window behind us. A gentleman with a big camera was trying to tell us something but we couldn’t hear him through the double glazing. He was good enough to meet us at the door and explained that the bird was tucked in asleep along the far bank. We scanned left of where we’d been looking and there it was fast asleep close to the bank.
We opted not to get in the Land Rover and drive round but walk – which way left or right – was going to be quickest – left won and we set off at a brisk pace. Half way there a woman started throwing bread from the ducks and white geese and her dog was running round causing a commotion – dohhhh please don’t go we hoped as thought that the diver might be flushed raced through our mind. It did nothing more than swim further out in to the middle of the lake barely awakening from its slumbers – phewwww
We normally see Red Throated Divers as a hazy dot way out on or over the sea on Patch 2 only very occasionally do we see them close inshore but never ever this close.
We cautiously walked down the grassy bank and got into position lying down on the grass to get eye-level with it and waited for it to wake up. 
After a couple of minutes it started to rouse and swam a little closer. 
We inched commando-style a yard and a half closer to the water’s edge taking a few pics as we did. 
The bird swam closer still and eventually filled the viewfinder. 
What a beauty it is, an adult, with a gorgeously speckled back and deep red eye – shame the light wasn’t a little brighter to highlight that. Really nice to get such close views and appreciate the finery of its plumage for a change. We do hope it’s not ill and going to keel over in the next few days as some of these inshore divers seem to do.
There wasn’t much else on the lake other than the Mallards, a few Tufted Ducks and the domestic geese, a couple of dozen Oystercatchers roosted on the far end of the island as it was a very high tide today.
As ever we ran out of time and had to walk half way back round the lake to the Land Rover, which was lucky because the local Jackdaws were chilling out on the bank waiting for a picnicker to chuck the remains of a sandwich or some chips out of their car window. We’ve not taken many pics of Jackdaws and they haven’t been particularly good so this was an opportunity not to be missed.
We checked the sea for the Scaup that has been seen occasionally in the river, most recently about a week ago but the estuary was devoid of birds. Close by on the car park wall were a pair of Herring Gulls looking very photogenic – we just had to snap away. 
Another few yards further on a small bird darted low across the car park over the wall and onto the freshly uncovered strandline at the base of the wall, a lovely male Pied Wagtail who simply refused to stay still long enough for us to get a shot or two off.  
And then it was back to work, a lovely hour in the fresh air really recuperates the batteries.
There's some more cracking pics here from BD's visit yesterday and SB today. One of them shows a smudge on the lower chest, is that summer plumage moulting through or is it oil or something? Hope the little chap(ess) is OK.
So turn you telly off and get out and watch the REAL soap opera playing right outside your back (and front) door.
Where to next? Anything could happen tomorrow - you just never know with this nature m'larky.
In the meantime let us know who's knocking the spots off what in your outback.


Stuart Price said...

Always nice when this kind of bird pops up nice and close...............instead of a small white dot bobbing around miles offshore seen with the scope at 60X.

Warren Baker said...

I love an opportunity to get some close images like those Davyman!! Fantastic!