Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I always thought I used my eyes very well indeed. "Use Your Eyes" is BG's motto after all.

Not yesterday I'm afraid.

I had a day off yesterday and took a train 9 minutes east of town (unlike the usual train journey to Theale gravel pits, 9 minutes west), to Dinton Pastures County Park, and Lakes, near Wokingham in Berkshire.

This is a large park, but a water park, full of lakes. The river Loddon runs through it.

I knew there was the possiblity of seeing the park's overwintering Bittern, which seems to spend its time in the reeds on one of the lakes - there will always be a chance to see a Barn Owl - a nest box has a pair roosting there now, and you never know what else could turn up.

I had a very nice relaxed day, wandering about peering at stuff with my camera.

I managed to see a large party of feeding Snipe (photo in my online photo album, the "New Warren" (see link above)), plenty of Teal (photo New Warren), Shoveler, Pochard, Peewits, a Redshank, some Pheasants and a very big rat,that was preoccupied eating, and didn't notice me take a very nice photo of it (in the New Warren again).

I don't consider myself a bird watcher, more of just a watcher really, and I am sometimes amused by the point-scoring "birders" engage in, whilst talking with (more like "to") each other at spots like this.

I did overhear some chap saying he'd seen a Scaup on an adjacent lake. I know what a Scaup (pronounced SCORP rather than SKOWP) is. Its a sea duck, rather like a Tufted Duck, but found on the coast. Instead of a the Tufty's black back, the Scaup has a grey back, instead of a blue sheen to its black head (like the Tufty), the Scaup exhibits a definite green sheen with a steep forehead, and no tuft, but other than that, they do appear very like Tufties, especially from a distance.

I had never seen a Scaup before, though like I said, I knew exactly what one looked like.

Annnyway... on my amble around the last lake before walking back to the station, I noticed a couple of Goldeneye drakes not too far away. Another of my favourite wildfowl - they really are quite beautiful - I stopped to get a shot of one.

I managed quite well I think. The photo is at the top of this post (its the first photo), and you'll see a number of species in the photo.

It was only when I got home and downloaded my photographs, and started to look through them, that I remembered about the Scaup. I'd only gone and taken a VERY poor shot of one - out of focus - but CLEARLY visible in the Goldeneye shot - and I hadn't even noticed it - so intent was I on getting the Goldeneye in focus...

The first photo (like I said) shows the Scaup.

The duck top left is my subject - the Goldeneye.

The duck bottom right is the bird I completely missed - the Scaup.

Never mind eh?

I'll be 6' under before I join the "Twitchers" of this world, so don't intend to beat myself up about a bird that I've not seen before, being missed by me - RIGHT UNDER MY SNOUT!

The pint of Wadworths 6X I had at the local watering hole waiting for a train is worth mentioning here also.

I hope that Anna and I will return when it gets a little warmer, to see maybe the Owls, maybe the Bittern, maybe have a pic-a-nic Boo boo, and maybe a pointa zoider after, in that very nice pub...

NB. The best photographs of the day (in my opinion) can ALL be found, now, on my online photo album, together with some facts about each species photographed.
Click HERE or use the link on the top lhs of the front page of BG.

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