Monday, 9 January 2017

Fishing, But Not...

Although I'm still loaded with virus my intention today was work...until I saw the rainy forecast. And then my intention became fishing. I thought I might sit quietly beneath my brolly and nurse myself back to health with a massive pike. But things didn't quite pan out that way...

It did rain though, and I did sit quietly. To pass the time until the massive pike I did a lot of birding, adding 11 species to my 'Birds While Fishing' list. Some were drossy stuff like Chaffinch and Rook, etc. but some were proper quality!

At one stage I was fishing virtually underneath the M5, and glancing behind me noticed four egrets flying away at an angle. Through the bins I was astonished to see a pale bill and the jizz of a Cattle Egret on at least two of them. I didn't get a chance to look at the others because within about three seconds they had all gone out of view, seemingly up and over the motorway. I waited anxiously for them to reappear, but they didn't. However, I refused to believe they had headed west via the M5 and sure enough, finally I spotted four egrets dropping into a distant field to my right. They had obviously flown behind me unseen before reorienting themselves a bit further north. It had to be them. Unfortunately though, they were dots. I hurried up the towpath to get closer. Even then they were much too far away to see the bill colour, plus I was getting battered about by the wind and couldn't find anything to rest my bins on. Thankfully they had alighted next to a Little Egret, and as they all prodded about in the grass together their shorter necks and slightly smaller size soon became evident; they looked a lot 'busier' than the Little Egret too.

So, confident of the ID at last, and not yet being a suppressor, I put the news out via Twitter. To be honest I couldn't see anyone rushing down to see them; as far as I could tell they weren't near anywhere that you could roll up in a car and view from, and Cattle Egret hasn't been a crowd-puller for some time now. So imagine my delight when I later learned that Martin Elcoate, a Topsham resident who follows me on Twitter, had managed to scope them from his bedroom window. I felt positively virtuous.

Other birdy quality came in the shape of a single adult Med Gull among a haystack of BHGs and Commons, some Knot flying around with a Barwit, and this beauty on the canal itself...

Drake Red-breasted Merganser. Obviously.
It was way up the canal from me, fishing away and minding its own business. Until I raised my bins I thought it was going to be a Cormorant, but when I saw it was a Merg I went into stealth mode. The instant it dived I hurried up the bank, hiding behind vegetation as it surfaced. Eventually I drew level and it popped up right in front of me. I got two quick shots like the above where, as you can see, it is totally relaxed about the hulking oaf that's suddenly appeared on the bank, and not looking nervous or wary at all. So I was dead surprised when, two seconds later, it did this...

I met three other pike anglers today. One of them caught one pike. All the rest of us didn't.


  1. An enjoyable read Gavin and a great way to relieve the boredom that is fishing with no success.

    1. Thanks Derek, you're right, I wasn't bored at all!

  2. Gav, It's handy we have an alternative activity such as birding to fall back on when fishing.
    However, when I started fishing, I assumed I could keep on ticking the new birds off. Not so. I managed a Water Rail and Slavonian Grebe, but not much else.

    1. It certainly is handy Ric. I remember seeing my first Willow Tit at Springwell in the early '70s, and I ticked Snipe there too, both during fishing trips which I expect were less than successful!

  3. I too ticked Willow Tit at Sprinwell, Gav. It was when I was fishing in the Pike corner when the Water Rail wandered under the rod top.
    A few years later I had a rather interesting unidentified (at the time) raptor fly over my head at the end of the last day of June.
    I'll get one properly one day:)