Today was a nice early spring day (March 1st is the start of meteorological spring in the northern hemisphere) so I went to Ryde for a bit of sea watching. It was nice to get out after a few days of feeling ill with a bad flu-like cold - people might laugh at colds but they can make you feel worse than crap.
Click on photos for largest size, because I mostly saved this lot at 1500 px on the longest side, to show the birds better, but they're too large for the blog template width.
Plenty of gulls about, as usual
And, again, here are Sanderling for your viewing pleasure. These are such cute little birds and passing old ladies were cooing over them: 'Ooh, aren't they sweet?!' and, indeed, they are dear little birds. These photos show a small fraction of the 150 or so that were there. Some of the Sanderlings had colour rings and flags on their legs, and these are part of a project by the International Wader Study Group to track the migration of these birds.
A Pied Wagtail or two were about, such as this young one on the beach
An interesting sight was a couple of Ravens, which flew over the canoe lake and town; these have been seen in Ryde a lot recently. I have to admit it was a surprise to see them, I'd only ever seen them on Culver Cliff, at Newtown and other less-populated places. Here, on the Isle of Wight, these once scarce birds of wilder places are coming into towns and I wonder if it's the same elsewhere?
Two spectacularly crap photos of one of the Ravens seen this morning. I hate photographing jet-black birds.
A Chiffchaff was calling, from the scrubby plants on the top of the bank on the north side of the canoe lake. It was also fly-catching. We have resident Chiffchaffs here so I'm not sure this was one of these or a recently-arrived one from further south. I tried to take its photo but failed. It was too quick and the bushes gave my 6D's AF a problem.
Also, there were two Great Northern Divers out on the sea, along with three Great Crested Grebes. A Grey Wagtail was on the wall of the south side of the canoe lake which itself had the usual population of Mute Swans, Canada Geese and 'Yuck Ducks' (various Mallard x AN Other hybrids).
I headed for home, via a quick look at Seaview, after an hour as I have one of those classic post-viral thingies where you don't feel so much ill as merely trampled by a herd of elephants.
The other purpose of the outing was to meet up with local birder Derek Hale as he has an old 65mm Swarovski ATS spotting scope for sale, which I'm interested in. I've been meaning to replace my old beat up Kowa for a while and have been looking at Swarovski scopes, but the prices for new ones are hideous and I can't really justify spending well over a grand (nearly £1400!) on one, especially with a trip to Australia just two weeks away. It's certainly seen some action and is a bit scruffy itself but, optically, is in good condition and, comparing it and my Kowa side-by-side it blows the Kowa - itself a nice little scope - out of the water, especially with clarity of the view and the colours in the Swarovski are much better, neutral, rather than yellowish. For me though, the superior eye relief of the Swarovski eyepiece is the main reason for getting one, as I wear spectacles and, unlike some people, I can't be doing with taking them off and putting them on again; even putting them on my head means they tangle up in my hair.
Bloody football. Monday at work's going to be even more of a drag than usual, with the plastic scousers there giving it the large one.