Wednesday 30 October 2013

Yellow-legged Gull

I suppose I must count myself fortunate that I have at least some pictures after a very disappointing day's birding. I managed to dip on three of the four birds that I expected to see.

I started on what was a glorious autumn morning in the New Forest, sunshine and virtually no wind but with a light overnight frost - perfect. I parked in the forest car park adjacent to Beaulieu Railway Station, being the second car there was a good sign and I had many hectares of the forest to myself.

Following a fairly long walk I found the pool just on the edge of Denny Wood Inclosure  where a Great Grey Shrike had been reported yesterday. Two hours patient waiting gave me the sum total of a flyby Buzzard, three ponies and distant views of a Kingfisher. The latter being totally unexpected in the middle of a vast area of heathland. On the long walk back to the car park the Raven, hidden in the trees above the busy railway line, was mocking me.

Kingfisher in the middle of the forest
On to my second target - the Red-breasted Goose that has been reported daily at Sturt Pond or New Lane close to Milford on Sea. When I arrived it was obvious that not a single goose was present. Again I hung around waiting for something to develop. I was entertained by a huge flock of Linnets, probably 100+. Regularly a small party would splinter off the main group and visit one of the roadside pools for a quick wash and brush up.

Thirdly the long staying Long Billed Dowitcher at Pennington Marsh - a familiar tale - "should have been here an hour ago". This, coupled with the fact that parking was a nightmare, left me feeling very deflated.  I cut back through the forest and had my lunch parked next to the River Avon at Ringwood. I followed this with one of my favourite drives through the forest - turning off the Fordingbridge road at Blashford Pits and making my way back to Cadnam via Linwood, Cadman's Pool and Fritham. None of the usual suspects - Fieldfares and Mistle Thrushes are yet present in any numbers, in fact, apart from the browning bracken the forest still has a summer look to it.

Finally, desperate for a photograph, I sought out another long staying bird, the Yellow-legged Gull at Battery No.2 on Stokes Bay sea front in Gosport. Usually the bird roosts on the grass just over from the beach road, this time it was on the waters edge at Browndown spit. At least I managed some decent record shots before it relocated back to the greensward. I found the bird again at close range but before I pressed the shutter a dog walker spooked it and I lost sight of it.

Friday 25 October 2013

Common Redstart

No birding today or so I thought. I had spent most of the morning sorting out bits and pieces on the computer, catching up with bird sightings and the most important task of all - filling the feeders. I also updated the SDOS garden bird survey, thinking that this week was fairly sparse and that we had had nothing more exotic than a Chiffchaff  recently. Some time later I had a call from Liz, she isn't a birder, informing me that in the garden was "a red bird with a black head". Grabbing the camera I headed for the sitting room and the patio doors. Sure enough sat out in the middle of the garden a Common Redstart  and it was coming closer, in fact too close for the lens. However, I did manage to record, albeit through glass,  our fifty-second garden species of the year and the seventy-third of all time. As I updated the garden survey again I also noted, due to the commotion on the front lawn, that the Carrion Crow count had risen to four, though only three posed for the camera.


Thursday 24 October 2013

Glossy Ibis

Standing on the North Wall at Pagham on a warm sunny morning, a light southerly breeze at our backs,  all we needed was some exotic bird to liven up the proceedings. Sure enough Martin picked up an incoming Glossy Ibis and managed to capture it in flight prior to it landing at the rear of Breech Pool. The bird remained for at least 15 minutes, time enough to obtain some record shots of a fairly distant subject. Then off it went, climbing rapidly and heading north. I optimistically predicted that the bird would return and lo and behold after about an hour it landed only feet from its previous location, remaining an even shorter time than before.

Glossy Ibis gives the impression of being a large bird - not so.
Almost unmistakeable in flight
Apart from the GI the pool was fairly quiet, a lone Shoveler, a single female Pintail, a Ruff and the usual Wigeon and Teal. Oddly enough no Snipe to be seen on the pool though we were treated to a flyby just before we left.

On arrival we had been greeted by a Grey Heron standing sentinel by the sluice, a Magpie stood watch whilst we were there and as we left a pair of Collared Doves watched us go.

A Knock-kneed Bent-necked Hernshaw
A short visit to the triangle in Peppering Barn Lane gave us excellent views of several Red Kites and a Kestrel, a covey of a dozen Grey Partridges provided the flyby.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Dartford Warblers

Another day when the photographs are not as good as the day's birding, but who cares, we seem to be out of the birding doldrums at last. With the weather slightly inclement and with a stiff south westerly blowing, birding on the coast didn't look too appealing. There had been no reports of the Semipalmated Plover so, without further ado, we headed inland for the Sussex Commons.

First up on the menu was a flock of 100+ Fieldfares doing their best to devour the huge Rowan berry crop that we have this year. The birds were very flighty, grabbing a berry then leaving the tree, finally I managed to capture a shot from distance, Martin managed to get closer of course.

Next we were surprised to have fleeting glances of two Dartford Warblers, a bird that I have been looking for throughout the year. Not a photo opportunity to be passed up, so we hung around for some time, finally a single bird showed at exactly the same time as a male Stonechat. This seemed to be the pattern through the day, as Stonechats arrived the Dartfords would appear. Two male DW appeared to be disputing territory and I heard at least two birds singing. I am sure we sighted four birds and possibly another two at a different location within the site.  Most of the time they kept their distance and never really posed for us. However, I did manage a few record shots.

Of course the Stonechats were obliging as always and at the death a Meadow Pipit literally parachuted in for a quick pose and left immediately. All in all another great day out, only record shots but a most satisfying day - roll on tomorrow.


Oh - and a Buzzard 

Monday 21 October 2013

Parrot and Two-Barred Crossbills

I have to admit that today's photographs are pretty poor but I make no apologies for including record shots of two life ticks. The day dawned very wet and windy and Martin and I were determined to go somewhere, particularly myself as I have been deprived of birding for nearly a week.

We could have gone to twitch the Semipalmated Plover at Hayling Island or searched for the Great Grey Shrike at Ambersham. In the end we decided that a visit to Hemsted Forest in Kent was the order of the day, several Parrot Crossbills and a single Two-Barred Crossbill had been showing well lately. Thus we set off in heavy rain but with a promise that it would be dry by late morning and a possible hint of sunshine by late afternoon. 

On arriving at the car park the news was half good as the Parrots were to be found easily. Well that was assuming that you had half decent eyesight. I am not sure what was wrong but I found it difficult to pick up the birds in the poor light. However after half an hour it became much easier to find them but they were very difficult to photograph. We counted a total of six but none really showed well.  I did notice that one of the males, on several occasions, flew back to a calling female and passed food to her, obviously a well bonded pair getting things sorted out early.

Bigger head, bigger bill and thicker neck - a Common Crossbill on steroids!!


After a brief break for lunch we relocated to the ride and set up opposite the oak tree, after what seemed an age a flock of about a dozen Common Crossbills alighted in the top branches. Rather than try to locate the bird I just pressed the shutter release repeatedly trying to capture all the birds before they departed. Sure enough as I moved the viewfinder on to the last bird I could see the white bars plainly, and then the birds were gone. Soon after the birds returned to a tall pine just in from the car park and a "flock" of birders managed to single out the Two-Barred with most people getting a distant sighting. Martin hadn't picked up the bird when it was showing its bars so we waited for the fairly mobile flock to return and finally success for him too. A great day out and perhaps a chance at the SP later in the week - if it hangs about.


Tuesday 8 October 2013

Rose-coloured Starling

In warm sunshine I visited Selsey to find the juvenile Rose-coloured Starling. When I arrived Dorian was in the process of obtaining some reasonable shots of a bird that, for most of the time,  was happy to sit in the bushes with the rest of the Starlings. So, naturally I set up my camera in the same place, later when things quietened down I became aware that most birders had set up camp on the sea wall, probably 40-50 yards away from the bird, for the life of me I don't know why.

Later on I was joined by Martin, who yet again had been on a "Wild Ouzel chase". Obviously, on the way home, we visited Church Norton and the North Wall, both of which remain unseasonably quiet. Although a single male Bearded Tit at the back of Breech Pool was a welcome sight.

Thanks for the sighting report Sarah.

Happy to just sit in his/her bush

Friday 4 October 2013


Even though it was raining and there was a stiff south wester blowing, I felt the need to be out and about. First stop was West Wittering with a gentle walk to Snowhill Marsh to find the juvenile Spoonbill. I wasn't disappointed, although it remained at a fair distance and seemed content to snooze unless disturbed by the squabbling of the Little Egrets. On the marsh itself was a good number of Redshanks, interspersed with the occasional Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwit. On the way back to the car park the flash of a flyby Kingfisher brightened up the proceedings. I briefly put my head above the sea wall but beat a hasty retreat in the strong winds, not a lot flying in these conditions.


Not sure about the antics of the Little Egrets
Newly arrived Brents sheltering in the lee of East Head
On down to Church Norton which again was unremarkable. Ferry Pool was virtually empty, only two Yellow-legged Gulls at the rear of the pool worth a mention. However I was surprised to count 36 Stock Doves in the field beside the pool. I nearly called into Ivy Lake but my belly got the better of me and it was home for lunch.

...... and now for something completely different, a Shaggy Inkcap or Lawyer's Wig, Coprinus comatus taken with 700mm of lens, I didn't take a macro with me!!