22 May 2015

22 May 15 - Playing It Cool

On the Wednesday morning of the 22nd while I was in London, I saw a tweet from local Dorset Birder, Marcus Lawson, to say there was a Red-footed Falcon on the Wareham floodplain visible from a garden on the edge of Wareham. This was quickly looked for, but not found. But within a couple of hours it had been relocated on the Wareham bypass, by the bridge over the River Frome. A place I often stop to check the floodplain. Partly because I've seen two Cattle Egrets from this bridge in Spring 2009 and I heard last Spring's Spotted Crake calling from the same field. But also, it provides a good & safe view of part of the floodplain around the bypass. After a bit of thinking about it, I decided I wasn't going to try dashing back from London for it. I saw the male in May 1987 on Godlingston Heath, so it wasn't a Harbour Tick. However, it was frustrating as decent photos appeared during the afternoon & evening. I looked close to dusk the following evening, with no joy. There had been no sightings since early morning, but given the numbers of local Birders who had connected on the first afternoon, then I wasn't expecting many locals to be looking. With the negative news, then this would also deter Birders from further afield. But fortunately, somebody was out looking the following lunchtime & the news was out it was back again. Now my problem was my car was in the garage & the car didn't reappear until nearly 19:00. But it was a nice warm evening & I was quickly on my way. The problem was the light wasn't brilliant, the Red-foot was keeping 80 - 100 metres out in the fields & all the flight shots were blurred.
Red-footed Falcon: 1st Summer female. More of a habitat shot really
It frequently disappeared from view for five to ten minutes. It appeared to be working a circuit, but would reappear after a while. On one occasion, it appeared from behind me as it flew over the bypass. The camera was still set to underexpose the photo, which was better for when it was over the fields, but useless for when it was silhouetted against the sky.
Red-footed Falcon: 1st Summer female. The only time it came close & I had the camera set up to underexpose the shot
Finally, it started to perch more. But it was still at the back of the field and after 20:30. So I switched to plan B which was to try & get a perched shot with the SX60. I am surprised about how good the photo is, considering it is was on 65x zoom & the light was really grim. Fortunately, the bridge was very stable, which allowed me to balance the camera on it & use the delayed shutter action.
Red-footed Falcon: 1st Summer female
The bridge list now has Red-footed Falcon & 1st Summer Little Gull added to it. I wonder what the next goodie will be?