Tuesday 6 April 2010

Hoopoe at Rainham. Alpine swift at Chafford Hundred.

This weekend wasn't one of the best weatherwise, admit it. I'd done nothing all weekend and on Easter Sunday my nine year-old niece was to be baptised at Rainham church. I duly put on my best bib and tucker. The service was nice and the lunch was relaxing. Afterwards, I took Lynne to see her other sister and I sloped off to Chafford Hundred, just on the other side of Lakeside to see if I could find the Alpine Swift that was reported late yesterday. I'd not been there before but I got to the right place at about 3.45 pm. and there was one other birdwatcher there. The swift, of course had just been there, but it had just disappeared! The chap told me that the others had just gone to Rainham because a hoopoe had been reported and Ranham closed at 5pm. We agreed it would be best to go to Rainham before it closed.

At 4.10 I arrived at Rainham. Through the telescope the staff showed me where the group watching the hoopoe was. It was about as far from the centre as you can imagine. For those of you who don't know Rainham that is about 3km or 1.5 miles. I didn't think I could get there and back by 5pm. She said "You can if you're quick!"

I raced off with a few others and we arrived, hot and bothered on the other side of the reserve. The group started moving off at that point. The hoopoe had just flown. Ohh, nooo!! It was quickly re-located on a wooden fence behind a metal fence. I soon got it in my scope and fired off a few shots.

Shy hoopoe.

It was a British tick for me. It was quite distant and I decided to go back for the swift straight away. I got back to the RSPB centre just before five.

No sooner had I arrived back at Chafford Hundred than the alpine swift reappeared. It was showing well but it took some time to get the focus right on my camera. Autofocus is useless with a small bird flying high and at speed. I prefocussed roughly and then followed it while I tweaked the focus ring before firing off a few frames. Some of them came out. Another British tick and a life tick too! There were also some sand martins and swallows about.

Alpine swift

I thought I'd better get back to Lynne, but I was pleased at two British ticks in a couple of hours.

David Campbell had rung to tell me of a ferruginous duck at Holmthorpe but I coudn't get back in time for it. I went this morning (Monday) but it wasn't there. I missed another British tick there.

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