Today, a fabulous, warm early spring day with loads of sunshine, began with a birding group walk at Binstead, a village near Ryde on the north-east coast of the Isle of Wight. As I left home, a Raven was perched on a fence post at the top of the road.
We met close to the church and, after watching the local Nuthatches (Binstead is one of only two places on the island where these occur; why more haven't made their way across the Solent, no-one knows) we went to the beach. Out on the Solent was a Great Northern Diver, while a Sandwich Tern was sitting on a buoy close in, although there was no sign of the Black-necked Grebes.
We made our way back to our cars - Binstead, away from the grotty bits, namely the main A3054 road that takes you through to Ryde, is incredibly pretty - and into Ryde itself for the Black-necked Grebes, because we guessed they would be around the point and easier to see from Ryde. They were, or at least one was, which was coming into its summer plumage.
The new - well, new to me that is, as it's secondhand - Swarovski ATS 65 is superb and, despite obviously having seen a lot of action, being a bit scruffy - totally destroys my old Kowa TSN 601 in the image quality stakes as I knew it would. It's a lot easier to look through, you get 'into' the view, rather than feeling as if you're looking through a knot-hole in wood, and the colours are so much better.
While we were in Binstead, those of us signed up to the local rare bird text alerts got messages about a Glossy Ibis on the marshes at Adgestone, a village near Sandown. I decided to see if I could see it - via trips to get some petrol and a side trip to see if I could spot a Black Redstart which is frequenting a particular address on a small housing estate in Sandown (I dipped on the Redstart and didn't really want to loiter suspiciously on a housing estate while searching for it) - and I duly did, from a hill top overlooking the marshes. I took a long-distance photo and have cropped the hell out of it, leaving only a tiny part of the centre of the photo, so the quality is abysmal, and heat shimmer doesn't help either, but you can see the bird on the dead tree at centre. As with all the photos, click for the largest view.
The view from the hill overlooking the marshes.
I decided to see if I could get closer views, so I went into Adgestone itself and walked around the muddy footpath where I joined another birder. He said the bird had been scared by dog walkers and had gone the other side of thick reeds. We waited for a while - and heard a Cetti's Warbler and saw a Chiffchaff - but, apart from a split-second view as it flapped about, we didn't see it again.
A pair of Mute swans flew over
Daffodils at home
Nice to see spring here, although it's early days and there'll be a few cold, wet days before winter is finally banished.
Good wins for the Saints in the Premier League (although looking at the line ups for the FA Cup semi-final matches makes it all the more galling they cocked it up at Sunderland last month; it was a fantastic opportunity to progress and maybe win) and England rugby in the Six Nations.
Terrible news about the - at the time of writing - still missing, suspected crashed, Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 and, on a personal level, it's all the more sobering as I'll be travelling with them next week, via Kuala Lumpur to Sydney. That said, it's one of the best airlines for safety and the cause of this accident will no doubt be discovered in due course. Whatever the cause, it's a truly dreadful thing to happen.
Last week in that factory, thank goodness. I'll miss the money of course, and a couple of the people I get on with well, but I won't miss having to get up at stupid o'clock to be there at 0700, especially in winter.