Wednesday 26 October 2011

The best laid plans........

As the weather was reasonable I returned to Pagham in an attempt to get some good shots of the Firecrest. Of course no sign of any of the previous days birds, the only bird about was the ubiquitous Robin who demanded that I should take his photo. I duly obliged.


Tuesday 25 October 2011

Sloe Sloe, quick quick, Sloe

A quick trip to Pagham North Wall to pick the final batch of sloes for the season. Having made a couple of litres of Sloe Gin we happened upon a recipe for sloe sherry - mmm!  sounds different. So with 700 grams of sloes and 1 litre of dry fino sherry sweetened with 280 grams of sugar all we have to do is wait for January.  On the way back we found the path leading to the North Wall alive with small birds, two, probably three Firecrests in a mixed flock with Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs.


Sunday 23 October 2011

Birds in Flight

An early morning visit to Pagham. I ended up on the west side but I had intended to go to the North Wall, I just took the wrong turn at Chichester, must have been half asleep! Having invested in a book on nature photography and having half soaked up some of the excellent tips on photographing Birds in Flight (BiF)  I decide to have a practice. I have to say that it was really nice to be out in the early morning, the post dawn light was very diffused with a real orange hue. Even better there were plenty of birds about.  However, proceedings were interupted by a different bird in flight, the Sussex Air Ambulance came swooping over the harbour and landed pretty quickly somewhere near the Crab and Lobster.  Eventually things settled down and I managed a shot of an obliging Kestrel, of course the Little Egrets were everywhere and were happy to give fly bys. As the tide peaked and started to ebb the Redshanks and Curlews became more active and as always the Wigeon were moving rapidly about.

 Sussex Air Ambulance on an early morning run
Kestrel in the early morning light
Similarly, a Little Egret
Kestrel broadside

Oh so close to being a good shot - by he was quick!

Black-tailed Godwit
Leucistic Curlew roosting with others, it has been around for while.
A large party of birders arrived with much noise, don't think they would have seen many birds today, far too noisy for self respecting waders and wildfowl.  One of the reasons that I seldom venture forth on a Sunday. So I drew stumps and went home for lunch.

I was surprised by a Kingfisher, I managed six shots but none of them were in focus, more practice is needed.  As I neared the Church Norton end I spotted the leucistic Curlew at roost with others, shame he didn't want a quick go round the harbour. Over the visitor centre two Buzzards were active but neither ventured close enough for a shot.

Sunday 16 October 2011

Lavington Plantation

A wonderful day birding on Lavington Common and the Plantation. Arrrived just as the sun came up on a clear cloudless day, with clear skies overnight the temperature had dropped a long way and the landscape was totally white. At first I thought it had been a heavy dew but with disbelief I touched the foliage of a nearby bush to find ice!. Even at this early hour the birds were on the move, several Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Yellowhammers and Meadow Pipits were high in the trees to catch the warmth of the early sun.

Meadow Pipit


As I made my way to the centre of the plantation two Roe Deer moved swiftly off the open heath into the trees. Numerous Stonechats were calling and several Woodlarks were singing. Meadow Pipits started to show in numbers as the frost retreated, soon to be followed by Siskins and at long last a trickle of Crossbills. At first two or three then sixes and by the middle of the day they were feeding noisily among the pines in flocks of thirty plus. Not quite the hundred that had been reported earlier in the week.





Several Buzzards put in an appearance and I failed to get a clean photograph, again! Two Sparrowhawks were chasing the Siskins accompanied by a Kestrel. Lots of action but none of their efforts appeared to be successful. Plenty of Wrens showing in the undergrowth constantly complaining. At one point I was joined by a Fox, he wandered slowly up the track and as I was up sun and down wind of him he was oblivious of my presence until he was about ten metres away when he heard the camera shutter. Without drama he just turned 180 degrees and ambled away to find a quieter spot.

Red Fox

Red Fox

Red Fox

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Allcock's Centrepin Reels

I bought these reels from an old boy who came into our local tackle shop wanting to sell them, no-one wanted them but he left them to be sold. When I saw them on the shelf I bought them, not knowing if they were valuable, I just wanted the modern Aerial Match to use.

 I paid £100,  and a week later the old man returned with a £10 note saying that I had paid too much. They have sat in the loft for twenty odd years and I got to wondering what they might be worth.

Reel 1 marked "The Allcock Aerial"  Drum diameter 4", Drum width about 1 1/4"

No modifications and mechanically sound, drum spins freely without wobble, very little mechanical wear.

Backplate has Allcocks logo, Drum stamped with number "7", Foot stamped with number"69"

Reel 2  marked "The  Aerial Popular"  Drum diameter 4", Drum width about 1 1/4"

No modifications and mechanically sound, drum spins freely without wobble, very little mechanical wear, however there is a rub mark on the backplate

Backplate has Allcocks logo, Drum stamped with number "35".


Reel 3 has no Allcock's logo,  Drum diameter 4", Drum width about 7/8"

No modifications and mechanically sound, drum spins freely without wobble, very little mechanical wear.

Drum stamped with number "12", Foot stamped with the number "22"


Reel 4 Match Aerial attached Allcock's logo,  Drum diameter 41/2", Drum width about 5/8"

No modifications and mechanically sound, drum spins freely without wobble, some cosmetic and mechanical wear. This reel has served me well for twenty years on the Hampshire Avon, Dorset Stour, Arun, Adur, Rother, Warwickshire Avon, Severn, Trent and latterly on the Rivers Suck, Shannon and Inny. God knows how many fish it has landed - time for someone else to use it.



Monday 10 October 2011

Church Norton and the West Side

A grand day out. A later start than usual on a fairly cloudy day with strong westerly breezes. First a visit to the Churchyard  at Church Norton in search of the RIng Ouzel again, just in case there was a chance of a photograph. No big lens this time, a portable affair with the 400m f5.6. Of course the usual happened a gorgeous Kestrel sat on a gravestone about forty feet distant posing like mad. Never mind, a decent shot and I set off on my walk to the Visitor Centre feeling fairly happy.


Very few birds in the gorse bushes and not much else happening  out in the harbour at high tide. Just before the Long Pool I was treated to three fly bys from a quartering Short-eared Owl. He/she finally landed out in the harbour after creating havoc among the Teal flocks. Just too far away for any real photos but I managed to mount the 1.4 extender and resting on the wooden bench obtained a couple of records to go with the in flight shots. Not quality but very satisfying to have captured the record.

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

In the bramble bushes about 20 Stonechats, very active and accompanied by a pair of Whinchats.  Further on there were several Greenfinches in the gorse. On the path from the sluice to the car park there were hundreds of dragonflies, mainly hawkers, and a host of Red Admirals feeding on the Ivy  flowers. Spotted a very smart Willow Warbler drinking from the pond, Blackcaps moving in the hedge and a large flock of Goldfinches on the move.
The walk back to Church Norton was uneventful, the Stonechats had evaporated and in the strong breeze the smaller birds were deep in cover. Out in the harbour I counted 200+ Brent GeeseBack in the Churchyard the Ring Ouzel was providing fleeting glimpses but never staying long enough to be photographed. As other birders drifted away I decided to stay until the sun faded and was rewarded at 1645 with clear views. There were two Black Redstarts in the hedgedrow at the back of the church, making forays out on to the gravestones and occasionally a Spotted Flycatcher appeared.

Ring Ouzel

Ring Ouzel

Ring Ouzel