Thursday 15 November 2012


Three days birding have taken their toll so I decided to take a rest today. First task was to clean the camera kit, which I decided to do with my feet up in front of the telly, the "entertainment" was watching India bat themselves into a commanding position in the first test match.  I always keep a weather eye on the garden and fortunately I spied an unusual "Chaffinch". The autumn good fortune continues, this time a short visit by a female Brambling. Luckily, camera to hand, just a few record shots before she was gone.

Second task was to clean my boots, in the quest for the Common Crane I had stupidly gone to the wrong end of Amberley Brooks and followed the path towards Greatham. Of course following heavy overnight rain it was similar to the conditions on the Somme. Fortunately Dave came to my rescue and I finally got great views, albeit distant, of  a very regal bird. The photographs, taken in the gloom, were a disaster.

The pond continues to be the bathing facility of choice for most of our garden visitors, two shots reminiscent of the Autumnwatch "What bird is it?" quiz.


Brent Geese

Oddly enough I found myself at the North Wall yet again today, this time determined to find a Black Brant. With the amount of Brent Geese present this was something akin to looking for the proverbial needle, the Brents were highly mobile due to some inconsiderate farmer installing several extremely loud birds scarers, this made it the equivalent to rearranging the haystack during each search. Having nearly gone cross-eyed I finally found a likely candidate but it turned out to be another false alarm. Perseverance, perserverance, perserverance and then give up!


The Hooded Merganser is still showing well but has become more wary still, hiding for several hours at the back of Breech Pool, having been active in the sluice until Derek Bell's gardener flashed up his rather noisy motor mower. It was that loud he couldn't hear what we were calling him.

The corvid population has risen dramatically, and in the fields behind and to the west of the pool, large flocks of both Jackdaws and Rooks were vociferous.

In the sluice were a single Grey Wagtail and three Rock Pipits

Monday 12 November 2012

Penduline Tit

An email from Martin on Sunday afternoon suggesting a visit to Grove Ferry to catch up with the reported Penduline Tit was an offer that couldn't be refused. So with an 0500 alarm and Martin picking me up at 0600 we set off for deepest Kent. The journey was almost uneventful except that I saw three Cormorants flying over the road near Canterbury and I insisted they were Cranes - must get to Boot's for an eye test. We had both done our homework on Grove and we made our way via the mound to the David Feast Hide, something of an anti-climax, very little moving though I did have a fleeting glance of a single Bearded Tit. After half an hour and with the rapid onset of boredom we decamped the hide and took a leisurely stroll around the reserve. As we approached the river there was a host of Redwings and Fieldfares feasting on a huge berry crop. I'm sure I spotted a singleton Waxwing but knowing my recent identification skills it was probably a Pterodactyl. Then things took a turn for the better, with glimpses of Bearded Tits on our return path to the hide, and then they seemed to be everywhere, but none wishing to pose for us. However, when we parted company, Martin wandering off to the hide and me chasing Ping! Ping! one female popped out and allowed a slightly obscured shot before vanishing

One day I will get a clear shot

Outside the hide a small group of birders were intently viewing the reeds, I recognised Mick Davis who kindly pointed out the Penduline Tit. The bird was highly active and calling but unfortunately I couldn't get a decent shot. Martin, who had dipped on the Beardie fared better and recorded some decent photographs. After such excitement it was back to the car park and off to Stodmarsh.

Best of a bad bunch

Ominously we were the only car in the car park at Stodmarsh and sitting in the Reedbed Hide was an eerily quiet experience. We had decided that enough was enough and it would be an early rerurn home, immediately a bird came out of the reeds - a Bittern with a perfect fly past - my camera still in the bag and Martin with his mirror inadvertently locked up. To add insult to injury this was followed by a juvenile Marsh Harrier doing several passes of the hide, two great birds and not a pixel captured. We returned home via Scotney Pit but by the time we arrived the weather had closed in and the only bird of note was a single Pintail.

A great day out - perhaps a return on a day with more sunshine - thanks Martin.

Thursday 8 November 2012

Back to Pagham

With the weather set fair and having had an early lunch I decided to go birding, after all the excitement of Tuesday I thought that somewhere quiet would be appropriate, So where did I end up? Yup - back to the North Wall, to try and improve on the Hoodie shots, I also admit to a hint of curiosity as to how many birders would be there. When I arrived in Church Lane there wasn't a single parking space so that was the answer to the question. Arriving at the sluice it was fairly crowded with strange faces, but it was good to meet up with Trevor, Dave, Martin  and Ian. The HM had gone down the creek and round the bend, hotly pursued by some serious twitchers. So Dave, Trevor and myself made our way along the bank in search of something interesting.

On the pool we counted 21 Common Snipe feeding contentedly, I don't think I have seen that many together before and I have a suspicion there were many more lurking in and around the reeds. Lo and behold, with them, a colour ringed Black-tailed Godwit  - Red Black Red - Right/Red Green Orange - Left   - duly recorded and a sighting report on its way.

Received a reply: It was ringed at Harty, Elmley, Swale, N.Kent on 29th September 2012 as an adult. This is the first re-sighting of it since ringing.


We met Jonathan, a very friendly birder, who is my fifth reader of the blog. Also a very pleasant pair who had travelled from Oxford to see the Hoodie, glad that they went home satisifed and may also have had a chance at the Red-breasted Goose at Farlington.

Back to the sluice to see a very distant HM being very wary, a feature, I am told, that will stand the assessment of its credentials in good stead. Good to meet John from Farnborough, nice to put a face to a name seen on Bird Forum. Whilst everyone gazed seaward a very obliging Water Rail was sat preening in the Rife, with the fading light it was good to obtain at least a passable record shot. Then it was home in the gloom. Arriving home there was excitement of a different sort, but that's another story best told by someone else. All is well that ends well!!!!


Tuesday 6 November 2012

Hooded Merganser

Today started slowly and finished with a bang. I began at Warblington trying to get close up shots of the Spotted Redshank that resides in the Nore Stream, unfortunately sea defence work was being carried out and the digger and large dumper truck must have spooked the bird. Nothing much to be found on the way back but there are some fine Yew trees in the churchyard and the thrush family were enjoying them. I dithered on where to go next, Church Norton, Fishbourne Creek or home. In the end I found myself on the North Wall at Pagham. Things were brighter here - lots of Brent Geese that were highly mobile. Five Swallows "lolloped" along the wall - time they were gone. Then in the distance a flock of Fieldfares being harassed by Jackdaws, followed by another flock overhead. Not many times in the log have I noted Fieldfares and Swallows on the same day.

Idling away the time with Dave Shepherd, who has an endless stream of jokes, not willing to go home until something turned up. Then Dave spotted a merganser type bird passing over the pool and landing in the sluice. I really hoped for a Goosander and the "red top" had me excited. We easily found the bird and after some discussion we decided "Hooded Merganser" , there are plenty of these in Arundel WWT and I was confident we had it right but we needed the thumbs up from someone more experienced. I contacted the visitor Centre and put out an alert for Owen Mitchell who kindly arrived about half an hour later. I also put out a sighting on Rare Bird Alert but I think they rejected the first so I repeated the sighting and it got posted in the end. Several other birders turned up, Bob, whose surname I don't know, followed by Chris Janman and Ian the "affable" birder. Unfortunately the light was never brilliant but sufficient to record the bird accurately, I managed several photos of the legs and could not identify a ring of any sort. Finally the bird disappeared up a side creek, probably to roost - just hope it stays around, it was originally spotted by Bob several days earlier so there is hope.


Left Wing

Right Wing

Not a large bird by any means