John A, David B, Martin B and yours truly left the urban world of London just after 5am and, after purchasing the worst sandwich you're likely to lay your eyes on (a BLT but with no lettuce, one slice of tomato and some putrid bacon), arrived at Blagdon Lake a little while after first light. There was no sign... but the place was absolutely bird filled. What a quality site with a nice 1st-winter drake Long-tailed Duck, drake Red-crested Pochard and a couple of redhead Goosanders from the fishing lodge kicking things off. All quite distant, but it was one of those crisp mornings with crystal clear light.
We headed on round to the other side of the lake, where Dave B had seen the 2 LBDs earlier in the autumn. Loads of mud, and more quality... with a 1st-winter drake Ring-necked Duck picked up amongst the hordes of aythya, a Slavonian Grebe, 8 Bewick's Swans (including 4 juvs) and a drake ***** ****. Then John A picked up a gull on the near edge - bang, a nice 2nd-winter Ring-billed Gull and apparently a rather rare occurrence at the lake indeed. A pretty retarded bird, it then did a nice fly around being stooped upon by a Peregrine at times. Though the target wasn't in site, I was pretty happy with the crop of scarce we'd churned out. And then...
A rapid drive to nearby Chew Valley Lake, as the Sharpie had been relocated off Herriott's Bridge. We got there in quick time, despite a tractor trying to stifle us, and joined the crowd of twitcher types. The bird had flown round the reedbed and wasn't on view, although the two limnos were busy probing around, getting amongst it with the Lapwings on the fresh mud. These were my first LBDs of the autumn, and always lovely to see. Here's a nice shot of one I took about this time of year 3 years ago... (a bit closer than today's dynamic duo).
|1st-winter Long-billed Dowitcher, Lagoa das Furnas, Sao Miguel, Azores Nov 2008|
John A and I got back to London, and spent the last hour or two of daylight at Cross Ness as per usual. 4 Yellow-legged Gulls the highlight here, as well as a decent flock of 250 Dunlin that promised more but delivered little.
A nice day out, and something I should do a little bit more. Very little beats going for quality birds that you genuinely want to see. Thanks to David B for the driving and invite.