Sunday, 2 February 2014


Today is Imbolc (the day varies, this year it's 2nd February), the day when pagans celebrate the imminent coming of spring and the growing power of the sun. I am not a pagan (I am an atheist) but I am definitely looking forward to spring. It certainly felt as if spring is not too far off with mild temperatures - when you were out of the strong breeze - and sunshine today. I guess it won't last, yet more rain and general grot is in the forecast.

I went to Newtown, somewhere I'd not been to in a while and, as usual it was full of birds.

First of all, I stopped at the bridge just before you get to the Old Town Hall top see what was about. There were Brent Geese (at least 100), around 20 Curlews, plus Lapwings and Redshanks, on the fields next to the river while, on the water, were Pintails, Teal and Wigeon...I am seriously lazy when it comes to counting birds...

Blue sky!!! The local Mute Swan approached, soliciting food, which I didn't have.

From there I went down to the boathouse. As to be expected, everywhere was wet underfoot, with a lot of mud, and I counted myself lucky not to have got absolutely plastered in the stuff, as I only had basic cheap Doc Marten-lookalike boots on. I walked with care, trying to avoid the worst of the marshy bits, and it seems to have worked, only getting minimally splattered with mud. I had intended to go to SCATS on my way there and get some wellies but forgot it was Sunday and nothing is open until 10am (damn, that means tomorrow is Monday and w*** beckons!).

A Rock Pipit was close to the path; as with most of the other photos, this is a hefty crop. The 70D (and the 6D) lends itself well to cropping, far better than my old 7D did, due to a larger megapixel count.

There were the usual ducks and geese, plus waders. I counted 50 Shelduck, although I think there were more, and there were many more Brents than that.

The local Canada Geese were around and three flew past.

Other birds included Greenshank, a Peregrine, Dunlin and Knot but, disappointingly, there were no Goldeneye, Eider or Red-breasted Merganser, birds I would pretty much have expected to see, and which have been seen recently. These could have been further out on the Solent.

However, three Grey Seals over on the shingle bank (East Spit) at the harbour entrance made up for that and I took a - ridiculously long-distance and heavily-cropped - photo of them. Two are immediately obvious, and you can just see the third, brownish-coloured one on the right, partly hidden by the front seal.

Before going home, I briefly went to Yarmouth intending to go to Rofford Marsh. I went via Thorley and still got stuck for ages in the ridiculously long-period temporary lights. Not wanting to wait, I reversed back up the road, turned in someone's drive and was just driving back when a Hen Harrier - presumably the same one as last week - flew across the road in front of me...typical, great views and I couldn't take a photo because I was driving!


After I'd got home, via the hospital, Morrison's filling station and the local shop, I got a text saying a female Smew was at St. Helens. Sadly, I'd already had a couple of pints of beer by then so I had to give Ms. Smew a miss.


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