Wednesday 26 December 2012

Red-breasted Mergansers

With just two hours of sunshine predicted for the early morning, I made a quick trip to the Old Fort at Shoreham Harbour to try to get some shots of the female Black Redstart. Unfortunately a bit of a wasted trip, apart from several Purplies on the woodwork there was very little to be seen. Surprisingly I wasn't the only birder about, perhaps like me, people needed fresh air after the previous day's activities. On the way home I called into the Widewater on the off chance of something different. In residence were 7 Red-breasted Mergansers (3M 4F) so in the reasonable  light I captured some of their antics. Yes I know I have done it before but I couldn't resist it.


Just watch this

Show off!!

I was going to visit the gull roost at Ferring but, by the time I made Sea Lane in Goring, the sea front was full of strollers and dog walkers, so home for breakfast. The forecast for the next few days looks extremely bleak so I am glad I got out for a while.

Monday 24 December 2012

Happy Christmas

May I wish my 7 readers a Happy Christmas and a bird filled New Year

Sunday 23 December 2012

Armchair Birding

Whilst photographing the Whooper Swans on the North Wall I took about 100 photographs of the swirling masses of waders present in the north fields plus all the residents of the flooded parts. It is amazing what you miss when you are using only bins. Post trip analysis, my variation on "armchair birding", revealed several facts that hadn't registered in the field.

How many species?

Well a Pintail wasn't in my original log - and it sticks out like a sore thumb, how did I miss it?

Similarly - spot the hidden birds

One, possibly three Ruff

How many??????
So what's in the picture?

     329  Black-tailed Godwits (+/- 1% ), of which 6 are carrying lower limb red rings.
     1  Starling
     1  Wigeon

Given that several observers had estimated the flock at 500 and that this picture is of the main body and the flock often divided, then I am comfortable that our estimate is pretty good.

A lot to check and a long way off

Y+GY - a Solent bird

Y+GY  I sent the report of this bird to Pete Potts  on Saturday 22nd  and had a reply waiting in my inbox this morning. This bird was first ringed on 29/10/2009 at Farlington Marshes and has been recorded at various dates on the south coast. Oddly enough Pete had spotted this very bird at Vosper's, Portsmouth Harbour just three days previous.

Friday 21 December 2012

Whooper Swans

The day started with scanning of the Brent Geese at West Wittering, mainly in search of the elusive Black Brant. I was unable to locate the bird so I took time out to record the colour ringed Brents. No sooner had I got started when the illustrious flying members of our Royal Navy decided to conduct helo operations directly above Wittering. Thanks chaps for dispersing the geese, I gestured to the aviators in the time honoured fashion of Naval folk. I am highly suspicious of this operational behaviour, as when I was in the Navy, the Fleet Air Arm never worked on a Friday.

See the updates to colour ringed Brents on a previous posting

Noisy and intrusive!!.

I gave up on Wittering and left for the North Wall at Pagham, hoping for a shot at the Whooper Swans but expecting more of the debacle of Tuesday. As I arrived a kind birder informed me that they were still about but having an altercation with two Mute Swans. However, by the time I reached the other end of the pool things had calmed down somewhat and these graceful and elegant birds posed regally for the assembled few.

Throughout the day I spotted the usual suspects, Trevor, Simon, Dave and Dave, Chris and Ian and was able to wish them all seasonal good cheer.

In the flooded North Fields,  approximately 500 Black-tailed Godwits, which when spooked, provided a fantastic flight display.

And finally, whilst stood on the North Wall, what I am pretty sure was a Peacock butterfly flew out into the harbour  - on the 21st of December!!

Colour ringed Brent Geese

Whilst searching for the Black Brant at West Wittering I logged the following colour ringed Brents:


RANH a female, was first ringed on 30/01/2011 at Black Point, Hayling Island. In April it relocated to Schleswig-Holstein and this sighting is the first recorded this winter.


RANT a male, was first ringed on 30/01/2011 at Black Point, Hayling Island. In March it relocated to Friesland and this sighting is the first recorded this winter.


RAND a female, was first ringed on 30/01/2011 at Black Point, Hayling Island. In April it relocated to Schleswig-Holstein via West Wittering The first sighting this winter was on 05/10/2012 at Leigh on Sea and today's sighting is the second recorded this winter.


RANR a female, was first ringed on 30/01/2011 at Black Point, Hayling Island. It was recorded several times at West Wittering over the winter. Today's sighting is the first recorded this winter.


RANH was first ringed on 30/01/2011 at Black Point, Hayling Island. In April it relocated to Schleswig-Holstein and subsequently returned for the winter of 2011/12. This sighting is the first recorded this winter.


GJY5 is a male first ringed in Terschellinger polder midden on 17/05/2002, reported to have mated with G8YF in 2003. This is the first record this winter

If you see any ringed Brents then please report them

Tuesday 18 December 2012


The vagaries of birding were well demonstrated today. Two reports on SOS, one of a Goosander on the lower pond at Petworth Park, the other, that the fields above the North Wall Pagham were awash with waders. The final score was Petworth 1 Pagham 0. The Goosander was present but difficult to photograph and Pagham was DOB - Devoid of Birds.

Photographing a distant bird with white plumage on a dark pool in morning sunlight was a bit of a challenge which resulted either in blown plumage or underexposed bird. However, those that I could rescue are here.

When I approached the lower pond I was greeted by a rather odd sight and sound, 8 Egyptian Geese up a tree, calling for all they were worth. As I walked under the tree they relocated to the pond resentful of my intrusion.

Definitely a "whacky" bird

There were two anglers present but they reported nothing caught, not surprising considering a tree full of Cormorants nearby.

Now I know I'm not a real photographer and a million miles away from being an artist but I can appreciate what old Lancelot "Capability" Brown was up to in engineering the landscape. The trees and the views of the lansdscape of Petworth defy proper capture on camera pixels. You just have to stand there and observe its splendour as the light changes throughout the day.

On finishing at Petworth I decided to forego the hunt for a Black Brant at West Wittering, seduced by the North Wall being awash to the gunnels (gunwales to landlubbers) with birds. Bit of a mistake, all too apparent on arrival, the creek was nearly empty and Breech Pool contained a handful of Teal and Mallard. Out in the North Fields stood a lonely Grey Heron and a single Curlew occupied one of the flooded parts of the field. Where did they all go?

An empty Breech Pool

Not a lot in the creek

There are still berries available in the hedgerows but the only taker today was a single Blackbird.

I noticed these plants growing between the sluices, not sure what they are but they only seem to occur in the one location, very odd indeed.

Subsequent to some research I believe these are Tree Mallow, Lavatera arborea which is becoming something of a pest in coastal habitats, spread by its floating seed heads.