Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Golden Plovers

A quick dash to Pagham Harbour to try to locate the Bearded Tits on the Long Pool. I parked the car at the visitor centre just as the sun was rising, a beautiful sight, but unfortunately I had brought only the big lens. As I made my way along the path past the hide the current influx of Fieldfares and Redwings was obvious, they were everywhere. From the viewpoint I counted 43 Shelduck on Ferrry Pool, all swimming in the small amount of free water in a frozen lake.

I started the vigil at the Long Pool, after an hour I became bored and walked down to the end of LP where the wooden seat overlooks the channel, as soon as I stepped off the path I flushed a Jack Snipe, how on earth do you photograph such a bird? Another hour of the vigil passed and I was joined by a birder who had seen the birds the previous day but wanted to obtain better photographs - not much chance in the prevailing light! Then Ivan came by and we passed several minutes on the pros and cons of cameras and digital photography - still no show. Then finally after about two and a half hours I located three of the tits very distant. They were calling but only a male showed fleetingly - never mind - a year tick and another wait for better weather.

 On the horizon dark clouds were gathering and the south easterly breeze was picking up and try as I might I couldn't relocate the Bearded Tits, so I made my way back to the car park, stopping at the viewpoint to find that the Shelducks had left the pool and were roosting on the bank. Just as I passed the hide I was treated to a high altitude flypast of a skein of geese, nineteen or twenty which I am sure were White Fronted Geese, their flight path taking them straight down the harbour but they showed no sign of descending.

By now the rain was coming steadily down and I decided that a visit to West WIttering was in order, just so that I could do some birding in the comfort of the car, well I did want to record some more ringed Brent Geese. When I arrived the grassy fields were occupied by a scattering of Brents, a handful of Lapwings and some obviously hungry Golden Plovers. These birds appear to be adept at finding earthworms but not so clever at keeping them. As a bird pulled a large worm from the ground other birds would swoop in to steal the prize, including Black-headed Gulls that would chase the Plovers relentlessly until they gave up their food.

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