Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A long, cold vigil! 14.3.2012.

I'd always earmarked this day as one in which I might pursue any of the inevitable "good" geese that might be present on the Solway ( pity the Snow goose is in Cumbria though ). Anyway, based on reports, I struck out to Southerness in a quest to try and see the Red-breasted Goose that was obviously in the area. The Point itself had little on offer, around 100 Greater Scaup, the usual waders , a skein of Pink-footed Geese flying north over the entire estuary and a Yellowhammer. A search around the usual feeding areas around the golf course showed no geese until., suddenly,  the sky was alive with endless skeins of Barnacle Geese that had obviously been out of view and then disturbed. These Barnacles are unique, set against those on Islay whose provenance is Greenland, as they originate from Svalbard ( Spitsbergen) and more or less exclusively visit the Solway to winter.  They took some time to settle down, with most of them being obscured from view anyway below undulating landforms. A long period of scanning the flocks I could see by telescope ensued with me, realistically, accepting the possibility of finding the Red-breasted at that distance was a bit unlikely.

Some local birdwatchers appeared and we all walked down a farm track to try and get a better view. Much better views of Barnacles were had, but little else and they moved on to visit other sites. Yours truly persisted and  four hours later ( yes, four, cold , breezy, boring at times, hours later ! ) the bird suddenly appeared as I was going through 1500/2000 Barnacle Geese again.......... I guess the total counting tally was up to 20,000 by then as I'd been through them so many times. Oh, but well worth the wait and endeavour! An absolute perfect bird and perfect views at 300m for five minutes or so. How do they lose themselves so easily? And then for the first time in over four hours , they all flew off!  Divine reward, delivery or what?  Once I'd shopped for tea, and thawed out,  the experience gained in value !