Tuesday 17 January 2012

Wild Geese Chasing and Astronomy

Went out running this afternoon, along the cycle path past the London Road lake which is surprisingly frozen over, it wasn't a couple of days ago and I really didn't think that it wa cold enough to freeze over. Might explain why loads of Tufted Duck were on the river, there was only one rather sad looking individual on the lake.

All the Mallards - about 40 or so, were being fed by a family down the far end of the lake. As I ran along, a small bird flittering about caught my eye, tail somewhat cocked I thought. Figured it may be a wren, but as I looked it popped into plain view, and with the buff pink chest and characteristic white stripe down the back of its black head, was a Coal Tit! They really are tiny, smaller even that a Blue Tit.

What really caught my eye tonight were several echelons of what I figured would be geese in the distance, flying SW to NE I'd say, cast against the pinking light of a setting sun. About 7 or 8 groups over about 10 minutes. Perhaps they were looking for ice free water as well. They were certainly moving much faster than I was, lumbering along with a slightly grumpy leg.

A couple of groups of Starling were murmurating over the estate by the railway line.

Skies are a bit hazy tonight here, but did get in a look with my 10x50s - tonights target was Messier 34 in Perseus and I found it eventually, after thinking that it was a lot closer to Algol, the famous Medusa star, than it actually is. It's a cluster of similar appearance to Messier 35 in Gemini through the binoculars - it's apparently resolveable with binoculars, but not with mine, on this not really perfect night.

Interestingly, I've now got my stepfather's 20x40 Theodolite available, curious to see how that performs on the moon and on some of the brighter star clusters. Providing they aren't very high in the sky, as it doesn't elevate much!

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