Sunday, Balmy Sunday.

Yesterday I capitulated. I have packed my 2 pairs of good binoculars not thinking we would face months living out of a suitcase. The frustration of birds just out of eyesight was too much for me so in the afternoon I bought a pair of Vortex Razor HD bins. That meant I had to try them out. The forecast was for a cold, sunny start to Sunday. And so it proved. We went out earlyish when it was -6c.

This week we did a slightly longer walk and with my bins I started to tick off more birds. In fairly quick succession I added the following to my bird walk list:

Goldcrest, Grey Wagtail, Chaffinch, Redwing, Kingfisher, Little Egret, Song Thrush, Water Rail and Grey Heron.

I was delighted with the Water Rail, a skulker of the first order. The star however was the Kingfisher. We stood on a bridge and I saw it flash past and land, perched on an overhanging branch. A man gazed down the river, clearly not seeing the Kingfisher. I simply said “Kingfisher” and pointed. After a few seconds he became quite excited. He admitted he had lived locally for 50 years and never seen one. We talked for maybe 20 minutes and it transpired he knew Hong Kong reasonably well. His first visit was 1949 and he recalled the HMS Amethyst incident. I am not sure he was old enough to have served at that time but he certainly knew his stuff. We bumped into him again later and he was telling us about the heron he had just seen. “You’ve got me going now on this bird lark”, he said. You are never too old.

Here are some images from the walk. Nothing special. Just snaps.Fullers

Across the river

Jane Austen wuz here?Jane Austen

Close entrance

Cathedral

Riverside walk

We wandered back through the town, bought some chops at The Farmers’ Market and stopped for a brunch in a local cafe. And there we found something once made famous by Our Gracie:

When father’s had a snoot full at his pub, ‘The Bunch of Grapes’
He doesn’t go all fighting mad and getting into scrapes
No, you’ll find him in his bear-skin playing Tarzan of the apes
Off the biggest aspidistra bacon sandwich in the world

Yes, I am reasonably confident I battled my way through the biggest bacon sarnie I have ever seen. Mrs. Ha settled for a more modest salmon bagel. And that was enough to warm the cockles until we reached home. Rain is forecast after lunch so it will be time to snuggle up with Lulu and dream of Water Rails.

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33 thoughts on “Sunday, Balmy Sunday.

  1. Not much bird watching to be had around these parts although not to long ago my husband and daughter were walking to school and there was a whole block where the trees were infested with parakeets. I suppose they were on some kind of a migration. I always miss the best stuff!

  2. I think these are great. Do you find it hard taking pics at this time of the year due to the low light and grey skies – problems that plague me! These have come out wonderfully.

    • Hi Denise. I shot in RAW and played around with a Velvia preset as my base. Then I tweaked the luminance of the sky down to get more contrast. But yes it is tough in flat light. I try to shoot low and exclude the sky if the composition allows.

  3. Pure magic~ my inner anglophile is swooning. Top-notch birding day. I have heard rails rattling about but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one skulking. Illinois Beach also boasts snipes and woodcocks (speaking of skulking). I’ve seen them both, but they move surprisingly fast and it is hard to tell them apart when they are at speed.

    • I don’t think I will see Snipe or Woodcock in the city but both are possible not too far away. When I have more time I will go and look. Illinois sounds bird rich.

  4. I enjoyed reading about your day. By the time I read your posts, the day is already over for you . It is mid morning for me and all I hear is a distant train and some mild gusts of wind. The air feels damp, cold and, heavily overcast- very wintery.

    You got an excellent list of birds, inspired a gentleman to become more interested in the birds and topped it all off with some nice local food. It doses not get much better than that.

  5. Andrew my bird watching is about robins and carnivals,maybe on a good day a buzzards picking at remains,the last snow I saw a hawk do a seagulls, I know but nature to me is more of a serene setting then anything else
    Don’t pigeon hole me I’m not a bird
    Sheldon

  6. These are terrific pictures, Andrew. Bishop on the Bridge (I love the name) and where Jane Austen lived her last days…and then stunning shots of barren trees and archways, etc. This is my mini-vacation. We had a dump of snow last night that is exceptional even for Colorado, and it continues today. So I’m going back to enjoy your pictures again… 🙂

    • Thank you Marylin. I can happily do without the snow. I love crisp, sunny mornings but I am not yet kitted out for snow drifts. I hope it clears soon for you.

  7. Lovely photos, Andrew — but where are the bird photos? Especially the kingfisher!

    I keep trying to take photos of our kookaburras, but although they will pose for what seems like hours in that wonderful kingfisher way with their heads turned sideways, the moment I bring forth the camera they’re off!

    Of course, the fact that I’m a dreadfully bad photographer while you’re an excellent one might possibly have something to do with that …

  8. The great oaks and the frosted grass are stunning. So glad the birds are capturing you already. I had the surreal experience of holding a kingfisher in my hand when I was about 14. I was playing tennis on our home-made grass court, when this bird flew into the net surround. My mother couldn’t handle birds and it had always been my task to extract them from the fruit cage, so I had it free in seconds and it flew off. I remember standing there thinking did that really happen.

    • I have never handled a kingfisher. Lucky you. Birds often used to fly in to my brother’s fruit cages. Most survived. In HK the crops were covered by nets and the main victim was bats. Most of them died sadly.

  9. I knew you’d be ticking them off in no time. Great that you were able to see more than just the commoners, although each and every deserves a tick.

    If I didn’t know better, I’d think you packed away the other pairs of binoculars as an excuse to get another. If these are the ones then Yikes! 🙂

  10. hi. Haven’t gotten a message from your blog for a while. Have you stopped to take a big vacation/holiday? [grin!!]

    Regards,

    Art Smith Vavilov 2012

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