Wednesday 31 October 2012

Church Norton and the West Side

Yesterday brought a clear blue sky and bright sunshine for a change. I arrived at Church Norton early and expected to find large changes following the tree clearance, not as bad I thought it might have been, all done very thoughtfully with plenty of cover remaining - credit to the RSPB. The churchyard was very quiet except for a large influx of Blackbirds, I checked each one in the hope of finding one of the recently reported Ring Ouzels. I did a quick loop through the back and along the shore to the hide, in the bushes were a few Chiffchaffs and the occasional Blackcap whilst out in the harbour the usual suspects were showing but no sign of any larger egrets. On down to the beach. By the gate four late Swallows were feeding in the lee of the taller trees,  a large flock of Greenfinches on the beach, probably 50 birds in three groups, I wasn't sure whether they had just arrived or if the resident flock had  been reinforced. It all seemed very quiet for the time of year.

Back to the churchyard where I met Andrew House who also had little to report, so I decided to take a walk up the west side. With the tide rising rapidly I expected to see some activity but birding remained fairly slow. The Robin population has increased much the same as the Blackbirds, they are everywhere. As I reached the southern end of Long Pool I paused at the bench for about an hour, lots of Teal and Wigeon being pushed up the creek as the mud disappeared, a Kingfisher raced down towards the harbour, too quick for a shot. Behind me there were Stonechats, Linnets, a large number of Reed Buntings and a solitary Rock Pipit. Then I heard the unmistakeable "ping", two Bearded Tits landed in the reeds about fifteen yards away, everything was wrong, I was below them and the angle of the sun not optimum. I managed to locate a male for a few seconds, then the pair rose into the air, one went north the other south, never to be seen again. The walk back to the car at Church Norton was a bit of an anti-climax, I swear the Redshanks were laughing at me. However, I was lifted when I saw five Avocets relocating out in the harbour.

Friday 26 October 2012


Just what to do on a dark dank day? With a stiff easterly blowing, clearly the onset of winter, I wasn't keen to be out birding. However, just lately there has been an influx of Jays on the South Coast and our garden has not been an exception, although most of our visitors have been over, rather than in, as it were. So with time on my hands I decided to see if I could attract a Jay into the garden, getting sufficiently close enough for a photo or two. Mid morning I set up a small feeding table, just hammering it into the lawn close by the pond, in plain view of anything flying over and set up the camera on the patio. Sure enough by lunch time we had our first visitor, attracted by the peanuts and by four o'clock the population had risen to four.

The conditions for photography were poor and most of the following were taken at ISO1000 and barely enough shutter speed. Still, reasonable photos of what is a very handsome bird.

One nut in the crop.......

.......ten nuts in the crop

Of course the peanuts attracted other passers-by.

Thursday 25 October 2012

Just Deserts

Due to a posting on SOS by William Reid just about every Sussex birder got to see the most obliging Desert Wheatear - a big thankyou from me. I turned up at Splash Point in Worthing and by the amount of people present it was obvious the bird was showing well. A very confiding bird that showed no fear of humans. Another lifetime tick and some superb shots - makes up for the lean times of late.

The bird even managed to continue feeding whilst surrounded by birders

After that, the visit to Climping was a bit of an anti-climax, very few birds about in an increasing easterly wind.

Saturday 20 October 2012

Garden Ticks

The ever increasing Goldfinch flock (30+) brought two new garden ticks with it this week. First a lone Siskin and today two Lesser Redpolls. A real shame that the light was so bad but at least the event was recorded. The Nuthatch has remained and visits the feeders most days. Coal Tits are breeding residents hereabouts but following reports on SOS I have been monitoring for a "Continental" Periparus ater ater, the ones seen in the garden are both Periparus ater brittanicus - we live in hope.

A frame grabbed from what might have been a decent video had I turned on the mic

 Just for good measure here is a Periparus ater hibernicus 

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Happy Returns

Today I finally qualified as an OAP, not a milestone, more a bump in the road. My good lady had promised to take me out for a pub lunch but a bit of a disaster over the weekend with a molar crown meant an urgent visit to the "Fang Farrier".  So by mid morning I had been patched up with a temporary repair along with copious amounts of  gum numbing injections. A pub lunch was out of the question so I was given leave to go birding. Over a cup of coffee, most of which dribbled on to the latest copy of "Bird Watching" I decided to have a bash at the Ring Ouzels on Cissbury Ring.

I must tell my 4 readers that on my 38th Birthday I ran up the Rock of Gibraltar in 38 minutes, some may think that a pedestrian pace but I must clarify that I stopped for a pint half way up. So on my 65th birthday I crawled up Cissbury Ring, how long it took I am not sure but I did pause several times before the summit and only drank water.

I was searching for the "Yewsual place" or  the Yew tree where all the Ring Ouzel action was reportedly taking place. As always I was just a day too late, the vicious westerly had put everything into hiding, nary a bird to be seen. After a pause of 20 minutes I decided to make my way, slowly, to the Rifle Butts, which in the end was a good decision. Looking down on to the butts I could make out the familiar figure of Martin peering through his trusty Canon 500mm, sure enough a Ring Ouzel was present. In my haste to descend to his position I forgot that wet chalk is as slippery as ice and went base over apex, thank goodness neither my camera or lens sustained damage, I however, collected numerous bruises and some strained joints - obviously not a Spring Chicken any more.

Anyway, distant views of the bird and a year tick - most satisfactory. On the photographic front a most obliging and good looking Red-legged Partridge that we had photographed over a month ago was still in residence and incredibly allowing an approach to about 15 feet, talk about confiding, this bird just didn't see humans as a threat. It probably realises that life expectancy outside the National Trust property is very short at this time of year.


Saturday 13 October 2012


Off to the North Wall in the early morning rain to search out the reported Spoonbills. When I arrived the tide was well on the up and I searched for and inspected every white speck in the harbour, all to no avail. Then a glimpse of a bird in the creek, so I was off, like a rat up a drainpipe, to get a better view. False trail, probably another Little Egret, but when I returned to the wall - there they were -  stood out on the mud snoozing away. In fact they only moved once during the period I was observing, relocating away from the advancing tide. Four of them all in row but at a considerable distance. Other highlights were six  Brent Geese  fresh in off the sea and landing next to the Spoonies. Also a familiar noise alerted me in time to see a flyover of two Bearded Tits, early but welcome, unfortunately they didn't stop near the pool.

Just some record shots of the Spoonies I'm afraid

Saturday 6 October 2012

Fallow Deer - Petworth Park

Following yesterday's blog I had an e-mail from a kind reader suggesting a visit to Petworth might be worthwhile. So with the weather forecast as clement later in the morning I duly went in search of rutting Fallow Deer. Sure enough Petworth is alive with deer but they are much less approachable than the reds in Bushy. However, patience is always rewarded and several nice bucks came close. The rut is not in full swing yet, or I may have missed it, some loud "belching" around the park and some bucks driving the does but no clashing. In fact some of the senior bucks seemed totally uninterested, perhaps some colder weather may liven things up a touch, so a revisit is planned

Rut -  what rut??