Sunday 8 January 2017

Standlake 7th January

Having failed to see the Bean Geese and Smew on 2 January, and with the weather poor, I decided to have another go today. Arriving around 10am, I parked in Standlake village (unlike most others, it seems!) and walked in along Shifford Lane. Unlike last time, the goose flock was present in their favourite field, and arriving at the viewing spot I was told by Nick Truby et al that the Bean Geese were present. However they were quite distant and it was misty so none of my photos are worth showing here!

After awhile, something (or somebody) spooked the geese and they all flew off in the direction of Pit 27, so I followed them hoping for a view of the elusive Smew. But the lake was shrouded in mist with zero visibility at the first viewing spot, and not much better elsewhere. It seemed at that stage that nobody else had seen the Smew either, so I tried Pit 38 instead. As on 2 January, this had a distant GW Egret but no small white sawbill unfortunately. Returning to Pit 27, there was still no sign so I headed off to the Pit 60, North Shore hide. Here I quickly spotted another GW Egret down the far north eastern corner, feeding in the little bay there. Now this wasn't too far from the Langley Lane hide so I quickly made my way there.

Arriving at the deserted LL hide, I settled in to see what the GW Egret would do - hoping initially for some shots of it, and its smaller companion together - a Little Egret. But most of the time they were almost invisible from the hide, feeding in the corner bay, although from time to time, there would be glimpses of one or other of them. After sometime, however, both appeared briefly in the small bay visible from the hide, albeit rather distantly.

Both egrets together - better viewed on the larger image on my website

After this glimpse, they rapidly thought better of it, and disappeared from view back into their favourite corner, which is pretty well where they stayed for some considerable time. During this longish wait, there was some diversion in the form of Teal that would approach reasonably closely from time to time. This one swam in front of the hide, giving a nice reflection in the still water.

Teal and reflection

As well as the awful light, another problem today was the mist that kept on rolling in and then dispersing. Just as I was thinking it was time to call it a day, the GW Egret again appeared in the small visible bay, which kept me interested for a bit longer. An aggressive Grey Heron then appeared which seemed to intimidate the larger Egret, and remarkably it began to move away from the danger and towards the hide. It rapidly got closer & closer until it more than filled the field of view!

Goto to my website for a larger image

Goto to my website for a larger image

Goto to my website for a larger image

Closest approach!

After this remarkable stroke of luck, there was still a bonus in the form of this charming Stonechat that suddenly popped up reasonably close.


With the end of the afternoon rapidly approaching, it was now definitely time to leave and try for the Bean Geese again that had now apparently relocated to the field off Croft Lane. Walking down this lane, the views were very obscured but eventually a gateway provided an unobstructed but a slightly more distant vantage point to scan the flock. The Bean Geese were not easy to pick out to start with, as they were right in the middle of the Greylags and hangers on of dubious parentage. Eventually though I located them and further waiting provided unobstructed if distant views in the fading light. A good end to a productive day - shame about the light and intermittent fog though!

Bean Geese at last!

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