Improvement

Lousy weather this weekend but that didn’t stop us getting out a bit. Saturday was a shortish nip down to St-Lazare sand pits between squalls. It looked empty when I got there but after five minutes an Osprey appeared and started fishing. Soon a second, then a third and so on until six were all actively fishing the largest lake. One caught a fair size meal and headed off to eat it, four drifted off and one kept at it, still hovering around when I left. In between the Osprey party my first Chimney Swift of the season fluttered by, nice.

Here are a few of the Osprey action shots from distance and in rain. Larry, what species of fish is it?

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Today the rain continued but some in-car birding was in the offing. The floods at St-Blaise and to the south of there had pulled in a couple of Glossy Ibis, rare in these parts. An added bonus was a Eurasian Wigeon nearby, so we fired up Red Dwarf and made our way there. Sandra picked up the ibis first, which pleased her no end, and we had a spell of watching through the rain at the distant birds. The photo is pants I admit, a record shot is all.

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Moving south slightly we scanned all of the flooded areas, there are lots, and eventually came up with the male Eurasian Wigeon. If you thought the ibis photo was awful, you’ll need an anti-superlative for this one.

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Shorebirds are starting to think it’s a good idea to come our way too and both yellowlegs were around. These are Lesser Yellowlegs.

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We had planned to bird St-Timothee on the way back, but the skies opened again and we just paused at St-Lazare sand pits briefly. It was a good choice as I was able to add Gadwall and Bufflehead to the burgeoning year list for the site. As we left we spotted an Osprey sat in an overhanging tree and I managed a couple of frames, a bit against the light but an obvious improvement on some of the offerings here!

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I’d just like to say thanks to those regulars who bought my eBook, I do appreciate it. If you want to read the sampler or even actually buy one, the link on the side bar to ‘Going for Broke’ will take you there.

My second eBook, called ‘My Patch’, is coming along nicely and will be on the virtual shelves soon. Just as a taster, here is the section from ‘My Patch’ containing my advice regarding tripods.

‘Tripod

Don’t go cheap because cheap is junk, rickety junk. Carbon tripods are nice but expensive and prone to leave three carbon footprints (oh how we laugh). Aluminium ones are heaver but cheaper, although the cost of stabling and feed for the Donkey to carry it tends to even things out. Depending on where you bird you might want to know about the offensive capabilities of your tripod. Will a single blow fell that yob with the glazed expression and flick-knife, or will you need to rain down blows until the unpleasant moment passes?

The head is the most important bit after the last most important bit, and you have a fair range to choose from. If you have five arms and the Circus lets you have time off, then by all means go for one with lots of little clamps and wheels. You can be very precise with that type of head but, by the time the last lock is set the bird has probably moved a bit and aged too. If you are of standard construction then you want a single action fluid head type that locks, preferably on one twist of the handle. You also want one where the handle is not so long, or at least is angled slightly, so that you don’t get garrotted every time you lean forwards to look through the scope. Some heads are fluid but with a single side lock wheel, they work fine too.

The leg locking mechanism is worth thinking about. Some will trap your fingers each time you snap them shut, if S & M is your thing then there you go. The ones that have collars that screw and unscrew to tighten, have a limited life and will rapidly fall to bits with continuous use. Most tripods are designed for photographers such as the ‘wildlife’ ones who like to stand for hours by a roosting owl, and then martyr themselves for having such patience. Our fridge does much the same thing, keeps food cool, and it also makes the same type of squeaking noises too. I don’t know what the ideal locking mechanism for a tripod leg would be, I’ve certainly yet to see it.’

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