Thursday 16 February 2012

Taiga feet...

Good behaviour has earned me some time off from family responsibilities this week. The original plan was to head for Islay for a few days to photograph wild geese and other specialities. But checking the ferry schedules, prices and weather forecast provoked a rethink. I took the appearance of 4 Barnacle Geese yesterday at my local gravel pit as the final portent that I really didn't need to go to Scotland to see geese.
The Lesser White-fronted Goose showed distantly with a flock of Taiga Bean Geese
The weather on the east coast looked more promising so I headed for another mecca for geese, Norfolk. An early start saw me arrive at Buckenham Marshes RSPB at around 0900 in the hope of seeing two less familiar species - a Lesser White-fronted Goose and the small flock of Taiga Bean Geese which winter there, and with which the Lesser White-front was tagging along.
As well as the white blaze on the face, the Lesser White-front was noticeably smaller
Within a few yards of the car park I was getting soaked by squally showers, and buffeted by a strong north-westerly. I ducked under the only trees for miles for cover, but - like Sigourney Weaver finding herself surrounded by alien eggs - realised to my horror that I was squatting amid a profusion of dogs eggs, just waiting to be trodden in. Extricating myself from this potentially ominous start to the trip, I found some smaller and less shite-strewn shrubbery to shelter under and set up the scope with high hopes, as the bird had already been reported earlier this morning.
Drake Wigeon
At first I couldn't see any geese at all - then, distantly to the east, somewhere between Holland and Belgium, a few tiny grey dots started to move. Zooming up to 60x, the dots became slightly larger dots and eventually turned into goose-shaped dots. The feet of Taiga Beans are bright orange, and every now and again they would lift or stretch them, helping confirm their identity. Then one of the goose-shaped dots looked up to reveal an obvious white blaze across its face. Even at this great distance, the shorter, stubbier bill and the smaller size compared to the Beans (which numbered about 50) gradually became apparent. A few other birders arrived and I was able to get them onto it - 'thanks - I couldn't even see the Beans' was a typical response!
Drake Wigeon in flight
Blackwits and Lapwing were also on the marshes in small numbers, but most impressive were the huge flocks of Wigeon.
Huge Wigeon flocks at Buckenham Marshes

No comments:

Post a Comment