Thursday, 20 July 2017

Another trip St. Aidan's RSPB

Readers of this blog, if there are any, may remember a post entitled 'Black Tuesday' in which I related a disastrous day for me in West Yorkshire when I broke my newly acquired 500mm lens in two after the tripod holding it fell over. Well, it was here at St. Aidan's RSPB that it happened and today I was venturing back for the first time since that fateful day due to the presence of a rare bird - a Caspian Tern.

If I ever decide to go for a rarity, it has to have been present for a day or more in the locality or else I won't bother.  This bird has apparently been on a UK-wide tour over recent weeks having been seen in South Wales, North Lancashire, Northamptonshire and now in West Yorkshire where it has been for two or three days. This is known because the bird is wearing a red leg ring.

After spending half an hour or so at the Fleet Lane bird hide which overlooks Astley Lake at St. Aidan's, I decided to head for the east end of the Main Lake where the bird was last seen today.  This was quite a trek carrying camera gear but the paths were very good in the main.  My first stop was at a viewpoint which I now know is called 'The Warren' and it was here that I had my first distant glimpses of the bird which was on a thin gravel spit.  But this place was much too far for photographs, so I headed on down the rough track which lead to a bit of headland from where much better views could be had.

Here I met Jason Higgins and a couple of other people and we had a good chat about things whilst the bird stayed on the ground on the spit at the water's edge. As well as some Common Terns with their newly fledged young, Black-headed Gulls, Mallards, a Carrion Crow and two Cormorants, there was also a Garganey present and there can't be too many times you get a Caspian Tern and a Garganey in the same shot.

The Caspian Tern took off a couple of times before returning to the same spot, but the third time it was clearly heading off back to Astley Lake. So we all left too. We popped in the Warren again briefly where there was a distant drake Scaup in amongst some Tufted Ducks, but we didn't stop for long.

The bird had returned to Astley Lake and was located on one of the gravel islands before it started a circle of the lake, staying distant all the time. It then flew back towards Main Lake but there was no way any of us were going to walk back all the way down there and so I spent the rest of my time at St. Adian's overlooking Astley Lake chatting with Jason and a friend of his called Gary Vause.

Whilst we were doing so we had several fly pasts by a Black Tern which was starting to lose its colour as well as young Peregrine Falcon which foolishly tried to grab a Black-headed Gull off the water, failing miserably and scattering the flock in every direction.

When the Caspian Tern returned and started circling the lake again I missed the best shot of the day because I was talking to Jason as it flew past fairly close - Gary got it though and it's the best shot I've seen of this bird - it's on his Flickr site.

So I'll have to make do with with what I got which aren't too bad as record shots. I've even doctored one of them to remove the Black-headed Gull behind it.

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