Thursday, 11 April 2013

Patch neglect: treat it mean, keep it keen

A few weeks ago I suggested in this post that fleeting visits paying fickle homage to a patch were unlikely to be rewarded with good birds. Turns out I was wrong: a brief but fruitful visit to Swineham yesterday produced two coveted patch ticks.

Red-throated Diver
Red-throated Diver
The first was a Red-throated Diver. This had been on the gravel pits last weekend while I was elsewhere, but I caught up with it in the Wareham Channel, just off Swineham Point. One had been seen in the area on and off during the winter, often far out in the Channel, but I had failed to clap eyes on it despite several visits.

Jack Snipe - shorter bill and shorter, more pointed tail than Common Snipe
Jack Snipe coming in to land
I turned to leave and a small wader burst from almost under my feet - it didn't fly far, but was in the air long enough for me to rattle off a few shots. Brutal cropping of these confirmed my suspicions that it was a Jack Snipe - another quality Swineham tick.


After a few unsuccessful attempts at flight shots recently I was beginning to wonder whether my new 7D camera was as strong on this score as my old 40D. Today provided some reassurance as it captured the Jack Snipe as well as could be expected from distance, and a few other subjects which were a bit closer, albeit in poor light.

Cetti's Warbler taken at ISO 2000
Similarly, the new camera continues to cope better than the old one with lower light situations, such as the dingy corners of bushes preferred by the local Cetti's Warblers, an arch-skulker ever there was one. There has been some vigorous ditch clearance work in the Swineham area which has taken out a few of last year's preferred haunts for this species, but several were still present and vocal today. A couple of Swallows heading purposefully north hinted at the change of season - the last few days have definitely been rubbish spring days rather than rubbish winter ones. So, a pretty good haul for a mad dash, and all on foot from home. Low carbon, low effort birding at its best.

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