Tuesday, 27 February 2018
Heading back to Bournemouth to do the family thing you may be surprised to learn that I now discovered the long staying Stilt Sandpiper I had first seen last October was only ten minutes from the brother in laws! A quick visit seemed very reasonable to me and the bird was performing in exemplary fashion, enabling me to get a few digiscoped images, along with a single Spotted Redshank.
Needless to say that was not the end of the birdfest since after visiting had been concluded we had to speed off to High Wycombe to collect youngest leveller and enjoy some cracking Red Kite action.
Meanwhile out on the levels things have been pretty subdued of late, the Hen Harrier has been very hit and miss with my last sighting over Manxey Level on the 14th, and Shorties remain at times good and at times non-existent. On the 15th I watched a Shorty at Lookers hunting for around 45 minutes during which time it managed to catch and eat a single Vole, however I have not seen any in the past few days...
Saturday, 10 February 2018
The cyanecula Bluethroat at West rise marsh has been, typically for the species, elusive, so after brief flight views on Thursday (8th) I headed back to the site yesterday (9th) to be greeted by LGRE walking away having failed to see it. However as soon as I got to the birds favoured area it started to perform, moving in and out of cover, for a period of about 30 minutes enabling all those present (some of whom had been there all morning) to see it well. Also at the site were Water Pipit and Water Buffalo, the latter on the footpath which made for a slightly nervous walk!
On the levels the winter birding has continued to be excellent. Following a spell of 10 days when he appeared to go absent, the 2w male Hen Harrier was again present daily from the 27th January until at least yesterday evening when I took the images above left and right. Last night (9th) he was hunting from 16.05 continuously until 16.28 before moving to the north and then returned to roost at 17.11. It has been good to see a lot of people on site through the past few months whom have all, with the exception of one photographer, behaved impeccably. Other levels highlights have been the continued wintering Great White Egret (present to at least 4th), Water Pipits, a jill Merlin watched hunting from gateposts for twenty five minutes on the 4th, SEO (until at least 6th), and the resident Peregrines, Little Owls, Cettis etcetera.
Tearing ourselves away from the point we headed to Lade where we enjoyed good views of the Long-tailed Duck and 11 Goldeneye, with the 3 males present displaying, before heading to the RSPB reserve where we saw Slavonian Grebe, male and redhead Smew, another 5 Goldeneye (2m, one pictured above left), Tree Sparrow, Marsh Harrier, and of course the ubiquitous GWE from Christmas Dell and at Boulderwall. Our final stop for the day was of course the ARC and this again came up trumps with Black-throated Diver, Bittern, Firecrest, 2 Chiffchaff, and best of all 19 Bewicks (still inc the 3 juveniles) into the roost at 17.05. A quality ending to a quality day, Take care.
Thursday, 18 January 2018
In my opinion the period between Christmas and spring is when the levels are at their best from a birding perspective. OK so this winter hasn't been great for Short-eared Owl but the again one in every three or four isn't and there is plenty else to see. The now 3rd calendar year male Hen Harrier continues to entertain and delight allcomers, the supposed adult female was regular until the 6th whilst the first winter bird with the whiter outer tail feathers has not been seen since new years eve. On the 28th JE summoned me from my sick bed as he had two yellow billed swans flying over Lookers which turned out to be a patch tick in the shape of Whoopers, both birds were present until the 30th with the single bird pictured (or another) remaining currently. A single Great White Egret (left) has also been hanging around, along with 5 or so Little Egret. Water Pipits (right) are regular on the levels in winter and spring, however they usually provide the gross flying up from nearby calling views, so the bird that has been present along White Dyke recently feeding on the pennywort has been quite popular. All of the above together with Starling murmurations, Green Sandpiper, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Kingfishers, Water Rails, Marsh Harriers, Merlin (7th), Peregrine, White-fronted Geese (2 since 13th per CP), a stunning Tawny Owl along New Bridge road on the 11th, and last but by no means least Sparrowhawks that nearly take you out! What more could you want from your local patch.
The moth trap has not been on since the back end of 2017 so other wildlife has been made up of mammals with the small herd of Fallow Deer above near Wartling on the 6th. My first Brown Hare of the year was seen near Horse-eye farm on the 17th and Red Fox have been around as well, despite the best efforts of the local hunt who were seen in pursuit on the 13th. The hunt represents everything that is bad and despicable in our society and it requires the will of the law enforcement agencies to start enforcing the law and hold these vermin to account.
My other away trip was on the 14th when I made a late decision to head over to Dungeness on a cracking wintry afternoon. As it turned out this was a somewhat inspired decision with GWE at Camber, 2 Tundra Bean and 15 Whitefront at Scotney (in the Sussex part), Black-throated Diver, GWE, male Marsh Harrier, Chiffchaff, and gypo geese at Dengemarsh, Long-tailed Duck and Dartford Warbler at Lade, redhead Smew, GWE, and 8 or so Tree Spudgers at Boulderwall farm, and final stop the ARC where 2 male Goosander, 2 GWE, Firecrest, 2 Chiffchaff, and best of all 35 Bewicks Swans in the roost as the light was fading including 4 1st winters. There really is no better way to round off a winters day in the field than the sound of Bewicks as they greet one another. Pictures below of Egyptian Geese, Goldfinches, GWEs' (one with an interloper) and part of a record (for me) flock of 101 Cormorant on Horse-eye also from the 14th. Be kind.
Tuesday, 26 December 2017
The Black Guillemot has been performing well and entertaining birders and non-birders alike with its preening and diving activities in the clear Sovereign harbour water. Today (Boxing day) it was pottering around the inner harbour at lunchtime and there was a wp Guillemot (pictured below) just outside the lock gates.
Elsewhere locally Arlington reservoir has held some quality birds in the form of a 1st winter Great Northern Diver that I caught up with on the 21st, 22nd, and 24th, 3 Black-tailed Godwit that I eventually managed to see on the 22nd and 23rd, and a 1cy Glaucous Gull on the 21st that I failed to see, although I did manage to see an adult Yellow-legged Gull and adult Mediterranean Gull in the gull roost on the 23rd thanks to RJFs' diligence, and a wp ad Mediterranean Gull on the 21st and 22nd.
Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Sunday, 3 December 2017
Nearby at Normans' bay there was a Grey Seal (two Seal day in Sussex!) fishing offshore and quite a lot of birds on the sea - 6 Shelduck, 8 Wigeon, 25 Teal, 20+ Great Crested Grebe, several Red Throated Diver, and a couple of Gannet.
A return to Normans' Bay for another walk this morning (3rd) yielded another Sussex scarcity in the form of a Snow Bunting found feeding on the shingle ridge on the sea side of the caravan park. Al Redman had found one in the same area about 3-4 weeks previously which had not subsequently been seen and his comparison of the photos of both birds shows they are different individuals. Also a single Razorbill and RTD offshore along with the Grey Seal, and 30+ Greenfinch. A quick look at the marina yielded the Tystie and Common Seal again before an afternoon walk around Horse-eye with excellent views of the 2nd calendar year male Hen Harrier, the resident female Peregrine, and 3 Marsh Harriers rounding off an excellent weekend.
Friday, 10 November 2017
Sunday, the 5th, I took an early morning walk around the same area with Sharon and the dogs and had excellent views of 2 birds in the clearing near the main conifer plantation accessed from the car park, and a further 5 flyovers. In addition a Crossbill was in the main conifer plantation.
The levels have been pretty good with a 2nd cy male Hen Harrier being seen occassionally, by me on both the 22nd and 29th October, and my first SEO of the winter near Lookers on the evening of the 1st November. Undoubted highlight though was the juvenile Crane found by Mike Mullis on the evening of the 8th. Thanks to a text from Mike I was able to grab a very poor scope view in near darkness but as always with such things it was very unsatisfactory, daylight saving time has a lot to answer for! So it was that I arose early on the 9th and wandered out to Lookers pre dawn, as I stood there in the crisp morning air watching the first fingers of light reaching up in the east I became aware that the Crane was only about 100 yards or so from me rather than the half mile it had been the previous evening! Fortunately it didn't seem overly bothered by my presence and I spent roughly an hour watching it preening and stretching its wings before it decided to head off south towards the west of the wind farm. I managed to get quite a few digiscoped shots a few of which are reproduced below as well as the one above.
Finally to moths and, pretty much as expected, things have quietened down radically as the temperature has fallen, however there have been a few goodies. My second garden Gem appeared at the window on the 27th October, a putitive Pale November moth on the night of the 31st, and on the 3rd November a single Cypress Carpet (pictured below) and a Chestnut. Watchout! Winter is coming!