I was out for a couple of hours before the rain fell, not seeing much, a surprise though was finding a male GOOSANDER on the main lake, the latest date I have for this usually winter visitor.
I'll skip a few hours, as what I found later in the day was quite unbelievable.............
After the rain had stopped I thought it would be a good idea to have a mooch around the paddocks and sheep pasture of Migrant Alley, my thought being a passage Wheatear may have dropped in with the rain, but I drew a blank, however as I scanned the fields further away to the far side of my patch at High House Lane, I noticed an odd looking 'shape' in the bean crop there. I was looking at least 800 meters away, here's the view, you can make out the 'shape' a little to right of the center of the image, on the brow of the green beans......just!
I though maybe it was a immature Swan, but it looked to dumpy and squat with a shorter neck. It was no good i'd have to trudge over to have better look! I got to within about 500 meters, when the sounds of shotguns started up, then a dog walker crossed the field with 3 dogs and the bird moved over the brow of the hill out of site.
Ive cropped the images I took as far as I can and they show a clue to what I was looking at.
What do reckon it is?? I had my thoughts by now
This is a dire shot, but shows a grey neck, and gingery chestnut body
I waited for 5 or ten minutes to see if the bird would re-appear over the brow of the hill, but it didn't, I couldn't get any closer as there is no footpath through the crop, (unless you are a dog walker!), However, a volley of shotgun blasts put up the bird, and I got my bins on it, then took some very distant photo's as it flew off away to the NW. I was now convinced I was looking at a GREAT BUSTARD (141, 78, 63), I WAS GOBSMACKED, WHAT A FIND !!!!!!!!!!
Ive cropped these images as far as they would go, but it's quite obvious this is a Great Bustard!
For a huge bird, it flew as graceful as any Swan, with powerful regular wing beats, quite something to see, obviously I had better views through my bins before I got the images.
This shot was even further away but shows the grey on the neck, and the well fingered secondary flight feathers.
Without doubt, this is the best bird species to have visited my Pittswood patch, It gives me the incentive to get out and keep looking and recording, just when things were looking a bit stale of late :-)