Sunday, 13 March 2011

The Breakfast Club (part 2)

Woken by sunlight streaming in through the window (the cat is behaving today, a welcome change!). It looks like a stunning spring morning.

It had been low cloud and heavy rain as I'd climbed the stairs to bed a few hours previous. Looking out of the window I can detect that the wind has gone southerly.

That's the clincher, I'm up and out ASAP, I fancy migrants could have dropped in overnight with the combination of the rain and wind swinging south.

Pack the kit and drift onto West Kirby marsh. Got to be early as the day will soon draw out walkers, dogs, joggers, cyclists and horseriders and these will put any birds up, up and away. The sun is warm, the breeze cool, the view brilliant.

I wander down the path scanning for birds. Stomach growls it's displeasure at the lack of breakfast, but I have a plan. Birds, pictures, Full English. Not bad eh?

Almost at Pinfold Steps and I see a flash of white zip a few feet low over the marsh some 70 metres away. Bins up and on the shape. It comes to focus and and my first Wheatear of 2011 appears.

Just what I had hoped for! Shake the camera bag off my back on to a small grass hummock and assemble the lens etc. I want to record this. It's still quite far off but I decide not to go stalking it, it's on a long journey and doesn't need to be chased by me. Plus it's very muddy and I don't fanncy getting covered in it. Ping off a few shots from distance.
I settle in and observe this cracking little bird. Soon another hops into view. This is turning into a killer Sunday, and still a fry up to come! I stay in the fringe of the marsh hunched over the camera hoping my quarry will oblige me with closer views. I'm not disappointed, one hops closer and closer.

It is dipping and hopping through the ripples of the marsh occasionally picking a food item from the muddy sand, stopping to survey the surroundings. The light is great for pictures so I'm taking lots, changing ISO settings, apertures as I fire away. His plumage is pristine despite the long journey, a peachy wash on his front with slate bule/grey back. Brilliant white eye stripe over a black bandit maskes face. He notices me and fixes me with a hard stare but doesn't retreat.
He looks straight at me for a few seconds then resumes feeding, coming closer all the time. So close I can see grains of sand on his bill from the shallow probes of the marsh as he feeds. He remains vigilant, stopping on a hummock to look out for threats.

The other bird decides to plough a different furrow and hops and dashes off in a different direction, disappearing into the vegetation. My bird continues to enjoy his breakfast thus making him eligible to join my newly formed Breakfast Club. He's in, member number 3. Thinking of breakfast sets off my stomach again. My Wheatear takes my gastric hint and whips far enough into the marsh to prevent any more pictures. I look at the camera and see I have 173 pictures of him. That'll do, back to base to drop off the kit and then out for breakkie. On the way I review what I've got on the back of the camera, choosing which to edit for posting here.

I like Sundays and this has got off to a flyer! Meet Mrs DeeBirder and we stroll to the Sweet Pea where we get the last table! Settle down to a plate of Full English. Gotta love the Breakfast Club!


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