The return from a trip to Austria of Peter’s telescope and binoculars coincided this morning with the sun shining over nearby Doxey Marshes. It was an opportunity to see how the newly-repaired optics would perform and perhaps also to find some migrants.
We spent a couple of hours wandering across the reserve, twice popping into the only hide to dodge the showers. From a birding point of view it was predictably unproductive with just 33 species recorded but it was good to see more than 100 Lapwings and a dozen or so Common Snipe. Given the date and seeing the reports of passage waders down the road at Belvide Reservoir, we really might have expected to see more. However, for some reason management of water levels on the reserve seems to be a problem again and both ‘wader scrapes’ had way too much water on them to be of much use – one even had a Great Crested Grebe diving in it! We did think earlier in the year that this long-running problem had been resolved but obviously this isn’t the case. Very disappointing!
As usual Canada Geese were overwhelmingly the most numerous species – we counted more than 350 – and at least eight Barnacle Geese were also present. A couple of Lesser Black-backs were amongst the many Black-headed Gulls and the ducks included a few Tufted, Shoveler and Teal – all pretty unexciting.
A Common Buzzard and two Kestrels were probably the morning’s highlights and it didn’t take too long for attention to turn to photography.
The main thing is that Swarovski have done a good job sorting out the optics and it will only be a few days now before some quality birding in California (Peter) and Portugal (June).
It was sad to read this morning of the death of Mrs Marion Paton of Patagonia, Arizona. Almost anyone who has been birding in SE Arizona in the last 20 years or so will have visited Birders’ Haven or Patons’ yard as it became known. This is probably the most famous of all the birdwatching gardens in the USA and one that our Avian Adventures tour visited again as recently as May this year. Mrs Paton and her late husband, Wally, generously allowed birders to just walk in through their gate and sit down in front of a row of feeders at the rear of the house to watch the wonderful selection of hummingbirds, finches, buntings, orioles, woodpeckers and more. As someone has already written elsewhere, the Patons typified all that is good about birding and will be sadly missed.