Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Our Annual Winter Visit to Mistley

11th February 2019

To get the best out of Mistley the weather and the tides have to be just right and today was the first time this Winter that a sunny day had concided with the right high tide time. The first port of call was The Quay where the tide was low and the deep channel flowed right next to the quayside. There were however two noticeable differences from our last visit.

The first was that the huge old industrial building next to the quay had been demolished. This was a great advantage as before it used to cast a shadow halfway across the water but now the water was all in sunshine. The second was that a "VICTORY" sign had been erected proclaiming that the owners of The Quay had been ordered to remove the unsightly metal fence from the side of the quay and had not appealed the ruling. That having been said the fence had not yet been removed, but there were still sufficient cut-outs in it to take photographs.

The huge flock of Mistley Mute Swans were at the quay today, all looking resplendent in the sun against the dark blue water background. The only competition they have is from the four Black Swans that seem to be setablished here.

Goldeneye numbers were well down on the usual 30 or so, with just four drakes being present and they only came close on a couple of occasions.

Conversely Pintail numbers were up with probably at least 40 birds being present, with many already paired up for the breeding season.

Now on to The Walls to hopefully photograph the waders on the incoming tide. The Black-headed Gulls were making the most of the stream from the drainage outflow for both drinking and bathing.

An unusual visitor today was a Rook which was searching through the seaweed on the tide-wrack for tiny pieces of food. Just look at that tiny morsel in the third photo.

Today Shelducks were quite numerous with probably 50 birds present all gleaming in the sun. Some were busy sifting the mud, but there was a great deal of movement providing some great opportunities for some flight shots.

There was also about 200 Avocets present but as is usually the case that were keeping mid-river, only allowing some shots when they flew.

However, on one occasion they did all land on the water close enough for a shot.

As the tide crept in so the waders started to appear like these Redshanks, but they too eventually decided to move towards Manningtree.

Of course at Mistley the mainstays are the Black-tailed Godwits which can not only be present in large numbers, but are also confiding and fairly predictable in their movements allowing even more flight shots.

But the stars of the show today were a pair of Knot that followed the high tide and ended up feeding just 15 yards away. We have seen up to 200 Knot here, although just small groups of 2-4 birds are far more common.

They too eventuall decide to follow the others towards Manningtree bringing to a close another fantastic day at Manningtree. Now off to Alton Water to try and find the Red-throated Diver.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Take one Twite, an Orange-coloured Pantile Roof and a Pinch of Lichen

4th February 2019

Another visit to Norfolk so another attempt at photographing the Twite at Thornham Marsh now that the sun is shining. Thornham Marshes is one of those places where what birds are present are very often fairly tame and will allow you to approach quite closely like this Curlew in the creek next to the road.

I then moved up to the sluice where a Spotted Redshank had been reported over the last few days. No sign when I arrived but after a few minutes I heard the "chew-it" call and it flew in and landed just a few yards in front of me. What a cracking bird!!

I then walked up to the sea wall and peered over the top hoping to see the Pink-footed Geese that I had heard 10 minutes earlier. Sadly no geese, but there were three Barn Owls hunting. It had rained heavily overnight and therefore hunting had to be abandoned and they were making up for it now.

Unfortunately, I was shooting into the sun but it did have the advantage of the light shining through their wings.

Well, that was an added bonus. I had just finished with the owls, mainly because they had all disappeared, when I was distracted by the tweets of twittering Twite. I looked round and the whole flock were lined up on the ridge tiles of the fisherman's barn by the creek. This time I was able to manoeuvre into position to get the sun behind me.

.........and I said at the beginning..........take one Twite, an orange-coloured pantile roof and a pinch of lichen..............