After not really expecting much, yesterday (28th) turned out to be a really good day locally. During the late morning, I had a drive along Deeping High Bank where I was obviously overwhelmed to find this first-winter female Scaup:
Okay that sounded slightly sarcastic, but in reality this is the first Scaup in the Peterborough area in 2011 - they're pretty rare round here! So much so that local listing legend Mike Weedon was there not long after for an important PBC year tick. A couple of female Goosanders were also along the Welland - my first of the winter.
Encouraged by the pleasant weather conditions and the decent birds, I headed round to the Cross Drain at Baston & Langtoft Pits where a Water Pipit was scratting around in the recently-dredged surroundings. The Cross Drain is one of the best winter sites at BLGP when it has been dredged/drained; presumably the activity stirs up lots of food and the draining makes fish easy picking for egrets and herons. Also there today were 5 Green Sandpipers, 6 Little Egrets, 2 Redshanks, 2 Grey Herons and a few dabbling ducks.
Shit photo of Water Pipit and Green Sand getting amongst it.
I'm not going to lie, I was chuffed with the pipit - definitely the best views I've had of a winter bird on the patch. But my rare radar wasn't letting up, soon persuading me to head towards the old wader scrape where the local Greylag Goose flock has been congregating of late. There are still load of wild geese around, so I was keen to thoroughly grill the flock to see if anything interesting had joined them. It appeared that, from the first few scans, nothing had changed from my disappointing result last week. But, a bit of 'encouragement' saw the geese waddling off the heavily vegetated islands and onto the water itself and, bang! There were four Tundra Bean Geese, looking wary as f*ck but eventually playing ball for the record shots. Shame the sun went in:
Tundra Bean Goose is a Peterborough Area tick for me, so it was nice to find my own and even on the patch to boot. I gave Mike a call and he came charging down from the High Bank. Frustratingly the birds had disappeared back into vegetation but then, all of a sudden, the entire Greylag flock got up and headed noisily towards The Ocean. Shit! Fortunately, the targets announced themselves with a series of Pinkfoot-like calls (but slightly deeper) as they seperated from the main flock, flew over our heads and headed off west over Langtoft village - the buggers definitely would have been viewable from our house - drat!
Less than satisfactory views for Mike, even though it was clear they were 'Bean' Geese. Fortunately, they looked like they went down just west of the village and, knowing the fields opposite Langtoft West End GPs as a traditional hotspot for geese (Greylags, Canadas and rarer species alike), we headed down there. Mike quickly picked up four distant birds away from a nearer flock of Greylags. Phew... at least they were still here! 'Scopes up, but no! It was only a party of four European White-fronts (adult & 3 juvs)! They were feeding along the edge of an uncut sugar beet field, munching away but looking really wary. Fortunately, it soon transpired that the four Tundra Beans were also in the same field, and we left the eight birds together in field at about 13:45.
Euro White-fronts and Tundra Beans.
I could have gone for the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Chew over the weekend (or probably even early this morning); after all it would be a new WP bird. However, the morning had proved that, at least sometimes, local birding really is the anser. A great couple of hours that were infinitely more rewarding than driving 7 hours to mid-Somerset and back.