Saturday, 12 November 2016

Nov 12th Whitlingham Broad

Black-headed Gull
It has been one of those birdwatching days that I would rather forget. The weather was absolutely miserable, but I wanted to go out to Whitlingham Broad in search of a velvet scoter that has been reported here for the last few days. Its not every week you get a velvet scoter this far inland. Normally, this species of duck is found far out at sea within large flocks of its cousin, the common scoter. You can never know when this individual will head back to the coast, so I really wanted to see it before it left. I have never seen one before and even if I did while sea watching, the views are usually too distant to appreciate it.

Mute Swan
Canada Goose
Great Crested Grebe
Tufted Duck
So here I was in the rain searching for a single duck on a large lake amongst many others. Mum left me to it, giving me an hour until the ticket for the car park ran out. I was getting wet, but was full of optimism after passing someone carrying a scope who told me that it was still there. Apparently it was down at the far end of the lake with a group of tufted ducks. I went down there but I could only find the tufted ducks, a lot of them. The bad weather was constantly causing my binoculars to fog up in the lenses due to rain drops and condensation from heat of my face. It became a juggling act of wiping the lenses clean, using them and wiping them every minute or so. On top of that, time was running out without me realising and Mum was getting impatient, so she rang my phone to hurry up.

I was heading back the way I came, trying hard to dodge puddles and scan for the scoter on the lake at the same time. On the way, I met David, one of my birdwatching friends, with one of his friends. They were looking for the same thing I was, using their scopes to search for it. With the thought of Mum being angry at me, I continued my walk back to her. The car park ticket had already expired and I was running on overtime. But then my phone rang again. It was David. They had found it and wanted me back to see it. I was now conflicted. Do I go back and get scolded by Mum or do I return to her and miss out on seeing a bird that rarely arrives inland? I could see one out at sea if I did a spot of sea watching, but I am hopeless at that activity. I had to go back, the urge was too great.

Velvet Scoter
I rang Mum and told her to drive up the lake to find David's car which I thought was parked near to where he was. It turned out my information was wrong, so while I was back with David and his friend and seeing the slightly distant dark coloured duck with white spots on its head, Mum was driving up and down the road looking for a car that was not there. I took a few photos of the duck and went in search for Mum on the road. She eventually found me and of course she was incredibly mad with me. How was I to know where David had parked his car? I wished I had never seen that velvet scoter now. It has been a really bad day. Sorry Mum!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sean
    I love your blog as I think it gives a much better impression of what birding is really like, rather then a lot of the 'seen it all and more' blogs that some people enjoy posting (or should that be boasting?). Also I think yours sometimes captures the occasional frustration of birding with friends and family in tow! I have also been caught out by the mean parking charges at Whitlingham (which seem designed to put off people from visiting - it certainly works with me!), and would advise you to check on that you haven't got any outstanding charges - go to 'make a payment', put in your car's registration number and if it doesn't say there are no parking charges, then I'm afraid your mum will have to pay again, or else get a hefty fine. Hopefully the system has recorded you have already paid enough, but do check that is so, else the cost of seeing the velvet scorer will only increase! I think you have 48 hours to pay any outstanding fine. Hopefully all will be okay and this warning is unnecessary - but do check (I have been caught out by this before). Thanks for your excellent posts, and I wish you more successful and enjoyable birding. Best wishes