Sudden Flurry

You had to go back to 24-Feb, 2018 to find the last addition to my Cape Sable Island list, a fine drake Canvasback off the causeway. It is an odd state of affairs and symptomatic of the funny year I have been having, so far. As if to mock the statistic, July has produced two new CSI birds, both anticipated eagerly and both fully appreciated. The first, a Caspian Tern found by Sandra and Johnny Nickerson on the rising tide at Daniel’s Head (05-July), naturally came just as Sandra and I were picking up lumber at Kent Hardware in YARMOUTH! Sandra expected me to utter the phrase “leave it, we’re off” but no, I played it remarkably cool, collecting our lumber, stopping to fuel the van and then making our way home comfortably if with a little zest.

We got to Daniel’s Head to find Ronnie and Paul watching the bird. It was preoccupied with sleeping and then skipping to avoid the rising water. It lingered nigh on a further hour, waiting until the heat haze was at its zenith, then left never to be seen again. My shots are of the record variety but good enough, Caspian Tern on the CSI list b boom. It is a species I have expected for the past three years and it was right where I expected it to be so my saintly patience was all that was needed, that and enough rubber on the tyres to get there from YARMOUTH!

After the meagre pickings of the year – I did mention that it is a funny one and not in a good way – the tern felt like a turning point, no pun intended, and so it has proved to be for, just yesterday (07-Jul), Sandra and I were sitting on the deck recovering from installing the first of five windows, you can’t get window installers down here to do them without first registering the need years in advance, or so it seems, and so these windows are being done using our accumulated skill, the aforementioned patience and in the spirit of adventure. I imagine the first settlers were the same when their first set of double-glazed windows came over on the Mayflower – as true a story as the eternally lost Columbus discovering America, the first case of fake news for the continent I believe.

So, back to the deck sitting and it is sunny and fine, for how long who knows as fog has been our close companion for some time and its friends wind and rain held a day long party last Friday so we were glad of the fine weather. Without entering into the feeder debate, I won’t, a bird flew over and pitched into the spruce above them. Purple Finches do this regularly but this seemed different. The light was right behind it but the trusty Swarovskis (more on those later) worked their optical magic and showed me a Red Crossbill. It may seem an odd time for such a finch to appear on our little island, especially as they are rather scarce in Shelburne County at present, but it is not unusual. Red Crossbills have competed their breeding and are now dispersing widely – I knew to hope or even expect one when first Dave Bell had one on Bon Portage, then Alix had a yard bird too.

I hastily snapped some doc-shots and called then texted Mike. He is up the road and also needs Red Crossbill for the island and more often than not he is able to hop this way for any goodies while I’ll do the same in reverse. Not this time, he was in Shelburne (for unspecified reasons but it must have been important or why else would you go there, Shelburne is weird). I casually edged towards a better spot when the crossbill dropped onto the feeder frame and sat looking at me at about five metres range. Cautiously continuing to edge for better light, it just snaffled a few Sunflower Seeds and munched. I had my sound recorder going the whole time and the bird just fed away as I stood quietly admiring it. Eventually it flew and called and I had both my shots and a recording.

Another nice little CSI surprise, and again found by Johnny and Sandra, is the ongoing presence of Northern Mockingbird/s on the island. They/it appear to be breeding and, hopefully soon, we will hear the young and adults doing their scornful best songs and calls.

For birders their binoculars become an extension of their physical self. They are the eye extensions we turn to for that vital enhancement when looking at our birds. We rely on them, we get used to them and we even mourn their passing when they reach the end of the natural life. To avoid this sad parting you have to spend the big bucks on something decent, the best are made by Swarovski. I bought my current set in 2011 I bought a new pair, Sandra had my old ones which are a slightly older model. She doesn’t use hers quite so much or as hard as I do. A while ago I noticed what appeared to be a peripheral misting around the right-hand eye piece lens, what to do?

When I bought them they came with a lifetime guarantee. The company have since wound that in to ten years on new pairs but I would expect mine to have the original guarantee honoured, and I have no reason to doubt that. Anyway, after some deliberation I bit the bullet and sent the off to Swarovksi for repair. You email them, they send a label, you send the bins and they come back in 4 to 8 weeks depending on the fault repair time. In the meantime I took Sandra’s 20 odd year old Zeiss bins, our coffee table pair for fly pasts, and made the best of it.

I gave them four weeks before I emailed asking after progress, they were then back with me inside ten days and the fine people at Swarovski have done me proud. Fault fixed, nitrogen replaced, collimated (aligned), cleaned, focus repaired and new armour fitted and, if that was not enough, the replacement of the left-hand eye lens which I had told them was scratched but that I could live with as my fault was also done – all free of charge. What with the return of the bins, the two CSI and ticks and a certain football team doing better than expected I feel the year has turned again, the funny year was a funny six months and I’m back in the game!

I mentioned in the last post that I was mothing again, casually via the outside lights. Our yard list has shot up, over 70 now with a dozen or more pending ID. At some point I’ll do a page so that those interested – yes I accept that moths don’t do it for everyone (their loss!) – and you’ll be able to see just what we are getting and, if you know your moths, how many mistakes I’m making!

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