A quick scan of the various bird reports yesterday morning revealed a black necked grebe locally, at Lower Bittell. Being only a 5 min drive away, I thought why not. Got there, parked up and strolled up to the lone birder stood there scoping the bird, which probably meant it was miles off. It was. Worse still, another person later told me that it had been right next to the road first thing. Damn, and such striking looking birds too.
Golf was planned for 1pm, so I decided to hang around and hope it'd venture closer to me. Various birders came and went, until I spotted Dave Jackson arriving. He'd been at Upton Warren most of the morning and seen very little.
As I put him on to the grebe, I spotted what I initially thought was one of the many local grey herons, flying across the back of the lake. But something about it looked wrong. Was it really what I thought it could be? "Is that an osprey over there?" I asked as I brought my bins to my eyes. At that moment, Dave confirmed it, and suddenly the grebe was old news, as we both locked on to this new visitor.
The osprey flew slowly across from the Barnt Green end of the lake, towards the road, over it and across the other smaller pool, looking all around for fish to eat (must have been short-sighted as there are loads!!), before finally heading off towards Upper Bittell. Fortunately, the lads who'd been stood near us moments before, managed to spot it also, and they were soon back next to us, grinning as madly as me.
What a find! It's great to see an osprey in Scotland or even at places like Rutland, but to see one locally was very special.
Golf came and went, with a massive hail storm in the middle of the road, turning the greens white. My game was awful and best forgotten. Afterwards, I thought I'd try again for the grebe, and was greeted by hundreds of swifts whizzing over the water, chasing flies, each other and screaming by. Was amazing to watch.
As the grebe was still distant, I tried my hand with some shots of the swifts, but the light wasn't great (started to rain!) and mad for getting any detail out of them tricky (not to mention getting a lock on with the 50D and 100-400mm).
Eventually, the grebe came a little closer, though nothing like those at Warrington recently, and I grabbed a few record shots. A smashing little bird to see locally, even if it had been outdone by the osprey!