Saturday, 10 February 2018

Bluethroat and Buffalo

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.
Slightly off the patch spring passage of Common Gulls appears to have started with a flock estimated at 300 near the Old Loom mill between Hailsham and Stone Cross yesterday.
Even further afield is Dungeness where I spent another enjoyable days birding with Al Redman on the 28th of January. Starting at North point pit we worked our way east picking up a cracking male Black Redstart at Jury Gap and the 2 Tundra Bean Geese at Scotney before pitching up at the point to look for gulls. On a normal day the highlight may well have been the cracking 1st winter Caspian Gull pictured left, however when we moved to the fishing boats it was clear that the sea was literally covered with birds, nothing rare, just an awesome sight with Razorbills streaming past at an estimated 60-80 per minute and Guillemot at a ratio of about 1 in 20 to Razors. Gannets were moving through as well and along with the hundreds of Cormorant, including any number of immaculate sinensis types, it really did make for a fantastic spectacle and my highlight of the day. The picture below captures the feel perfectly!
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.

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