Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Seabirds and Owls

Yesterday was a revisit to Princes Park in Eastbourne for another go at the Bonaparte's Gull, Martin being insistent that I should get this tick. Well, soon after we arrived the bird duly turned up and was captured on pixels. Feeding bread turned it into a bit of a nightmare as the bird then became very mobile and I found it difficult to track it amongst all those Black-headed Gulls, especially through a viewfinder! Considering the scarcity of the bird I should have been elated to have a lifetime tick but it was a bit of  an anti-climax and I don't know why that should be.

BHG for comparison.
A big bird....
..... with things on his mind.
Having achieved our main objective so early we decided to go on a coastal tour of likely venues, not necessarily for birds today, more an exercise in putting places to names that we find on the SOS sightings page.  First stop was Belle Tout  wood, which of course at this time of the season was fairly deserted, just a vociferous Great Tit and some lazy Crows. Up above the downs several Skylarks were soaring and singing - a sign of things to come.

Onwards through Birling Gap and Newhaven Tidemills which were equally lacking bird life, a bonus was a year tick for Martin in the form of a Rock Pipit below the cliffs. Seaford Head gave three Meadow Pipits but precious little else was moving apart from large numbers of corvids. Splash Point was heartening as there were at least six Kittiwake pairs on the nest sites already. Next was West Beach and Quay, where upon leaving the car we heard a familiar sound that wasn't Jackdaw or Pigeon, at least ten pairs of Fulmars were in nest holes and some were doing pair bonding displays. Of course such birds demanded to be photographed, a search of the harbour revealed no exotic variety of gull.




We were keen to get on to Arlington Reservoir to find the Slavonian Grebe that has been staying for some time. We didn't relish a walk to the hide in the quagmire that is the path and fortunately some kind birders who had just seen the grebe put us on to it. So, standing just below the car park with the scope we found our subject. This after I had caused a stir by mistakenly identifying a low lying mooring buoy with a red hook on top as a red top Smew, my appointment with Specsaver's is next week. The day had picked up and we decided to go hotfoot to Waltham Brooks to see if we could firstly locate a Barn Owl and secondly get a shot. As we walked south along the river bank I was confident that we would see an owl but the light was going down rapidly, the discomfort of standing in wet mud and a chilly westerly breeze disappeared as Martin spotted an owl which was subsequently joined by another. Neither bird came very close but we had one final treat in store as, at the death, the two owls were joined by a Ring-tailed Hen Harrier

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