An afternoon at the Country Park

Golden Plover in Winter Plumage
Golden Plover in Winter Plumage

Sometimes it is hard to know what to do during a holiday in autumn, the weather is changeable, one minute the sun is shining, the next black clouds loom.  The solution for me is to take my scope to the country park.  With the lack of rain in September I was hoping the water level would have dropped and that there may be some waders about.

As you can see from the poor picture above (sorry about the quality, but impromptu digiscoping with my Canon Ixus was never going to produce stunning results) amongst the Lapwing and Coot there was a flock of Golden Plover.  I saw these for the first time last year.  There really is something special about a flock of these little yellow coloured waders, especially when the sun glints off their winter plumage.  I spent some time watching them, scuttling about, dodging in between the gulls and ducks.  Then, suddenly, they were gone.

I wandered further round, the usual suspects were all present – Pochard bobbing about, the sun highlighting their chestnut-coloured heads, Shoveler Ducks sifting the water, Tufted Duck diving, Coot, Cormorant gathering along the edges of the water and cramming together on the now vacated tern rafts.  I could hear the little birds in the hedgerows, Long-tailed Tits burbling, Wrens and Robins with their alarm calls and Blackbirds swooping between berry-laden trees.  Time to head back home.

But then, the sun came back out, a quick check through my binoculars showed the plovers had returned – time to set the scope up again; I may have missed something last time.  Indeed I had, a couple of snipe were probing the mud (not too far away, I got a fantastic view through the scope), amongst the Wigeon (did I mention those?) there was a Shelduck – how did I miss a big white duck!  I had never seen one before at the Country Park, in fact, I think the last time I saw one was during a visit to Martin Mere when I was much, much younger.

Then I looked again, there were other ducks there too, Gadwall, an understated and pretty duck and, there was the back end of another, different duck peaking out from behind a cormorant – not sure what it was.  I moved the scope – better view, it was still asleep – wake up I thought – then another duck wandered into it and it looked up briefly – I thought I recognised it – it was a Pintail, I was sure of it – a new lifetime first for me.  Then its head was down again – arse!  Literally, all I could see was its bottom.  Then, suddenly, the Cormorants were off, followed by the Wigeon, the Lapwing and the Plovers, and, the Pintail.  I looked for it again, but couldn’t find it.  Time for home before it rained – a Friday afternoon doesn’t get much better than this.