Tuesday, 30 December 2014

green wing among lots of green wings

While not being the most interesting bird to twitch, the prospect of seeing a Green-winged Teal up at Welney today was enough to spur me on despite my Christmas head cold. I've not seen this species before, and had no urge to travel too far or go out of my way to do so- its just a Teal with the white in the wrong place after all.
I arrived not long after a swan feed, so instinct told me that it would probably not be at the main hide, but I stopped for a brief look as there were lots of Teal at the edge of the ice about 100 metres out, and more and more were swinging in from up the wash in little groups. I should have scanned once and then moved on to the Lyle hide where I thought it was more likely to be, but when you're looking for a piece of hay in a haystack, and you can't see all of the hay because some of it's hidden behind other bits of hay- and straw for that matter- and clumps of dead sedges, low banks of mud, 500 godwits, all sorts of other ducks and swans- hang on that one's got a ring, let me just make a note of that, lovely Pintail courtship going on over there, pochard beginning to crowd in front of the hide, that Wigeon hasn't moved for a while- think I'll just do a quick sketch...........
An hour and a half later I dragged myself off up the path to get this teal. I soon realised that there were far more Teal massed between the Lyle and Nelson Lyle hides, as well as no end of Wigeon and good numbers of Pintail. So did a Marsh Harrier. As I scanned the flock, groups of about 100 at a time rose and flew as the Harrier chivvied them- thankfully each time they came down not too far away, but each time the flock reorganised I had to start scanning again. Finally it was there- distant but in great light that made the vertical white stripe stand out brilliantly. Camera on, record shot taken, bird lost behind reeds. I moved up to the Lyle hide thinking that although the light would be in behind the birds, I should at least be closer to them. Almost immediately I refound the greenwinger, much closer than I had hoped for, and with the Sun behind  a gathering cloud bank the light was good enough to see the bird well. It was soon lost to view, all the Teal busily swimming about like whirligigs, never staying in one place and I was again getting distracted by more Pintail display, and trying to take mental photographs of the whole frozen scene.