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Arnside and beyond

Blipfoto.com

Sunday 26 February 2012: A testing morning

Lower Test Marshes, near Southampton.

Nearly four weeks on from having a snorter of a cold, I still have a persistent cough. It hasn't been helped the past few days by the volume of dust in my Dad's house. Wifie and I have spent a fair time cleaning, dusting and tidying but it does get up your nose. The cough kept me awake at night, so I got up early and went for a wander down to the Test Marshes shortly after sunrise.

The old bridge over the Test has been replaced by a dual carriageway flyover, but it it is still accessible and affords great views and birding opportunities. The low light on the reedbeds and the early morning mist transform this landscape which at other times is a little dominated by the pylons and power lines. Here we see a pair of mute swans at the edge of the shot with a small number of wigeons at the water's edge.

I went on from here to visit the Hampshire Wildlife Trust's nature reserve. Here I picked up my first Cetti's warblers of the year, their song exploding from the reedbeds. Then I heard the unmistakable squealy pig call of a water rail (shows how rare my visits to Leighton Moss have been so far this year, it's hard to miss them there). I dipped on green sandpipers, which are usually fairly reliable here. Compensation though was an excellent view and a distant photograph of a kingfisher (not a new one for the year though). The year list thereby moved on to 103.

Later we met up with my nephew Edward and his soon-to-be wife, Anna. Together we took Dad to his favourite pub for lunch, the Compasses at Cadnam. The food and company were excellent, the Ringwoods bitter there is to die for.

This is of course a backblip. Although Dad does have WiFi, all attempts to work out how to access his secure network failed. The last time I connected a camera to his PC, it filled my memory card with music files that I had a lot of trouble deleting. So I gave up trying to access blip, and had some blip-free days. I'm sorry I have been such a poor commenter, and I am grateful that so many people were so kind as to comment on the two backblips I put on last night. This is the second to go on tonight. If you haven't seen the Dartford Warbler from the previous day, please have a look - I was quite pleased with it. There won't be a blip from yesterday (Monday) when we travelled home to Cumbria (seeing several red kites from the A34, species 104 for 2012) and probably not today (Tuesday).

Ps I have just noticed what the year ago photo was. If you haven't seen this picture of a starling murmuration in the shape of a comma, then please have a look.

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