Thursday 24 December 2015

Happy Christmas

May I wish my readers a very Happy Christmas, and of course, accompanied with the obligatory Robin shot...

 ...have a great holiday.

Thursday 17 December 2015

Glossy Ibis

With the weather set to "reasonable" we just had to have another go at the Glossy Ibis at Pett Level. We were so keen that we made an early start at 0700, long before first light. Of course by the time we had arrived the sun was trying to break through the grey cloud. Just as well for 30 seconds after parking in the layby adjacent to the first roadside pool we managed to find the bird, feeding contentedly with a host of Coots as companions.  Several quick "insurance" shots and then to our dismay, as the Coots departed for the lake, the bird took off. Happily it did one circuit and landed even closer to us, sufficiently near for Martin to complain that it was too close and that he couldn't get a clear shot because of the reeds!

Too close!
Finally the bird relocated to the far bank so we left too, making our way to Dunge by way of Scotney Pit. Nothing of note here, though duck and goose numbers are rising slowly. At Dunge, a short visit to the ARC hide proved fruitless so we ended up in the Scott hide, after a short stop to get another sighting of the Long-eared Owl, this time even further in the dense cover making it nearly impossible to spot. Time on the reserve yielded just one photo - another red top Smew.

 The Tree Sparrows at Boulderwall farm had gone missing so we made for home, stopping briefly at Pett just in case the Glossy was still about. Nice to meet Mali who had seen the bird on this his third visit.

Tuesday 15 December 2015


Liz alerted me to the possibility of a Greenfinch visiting the garden feeders; they have been resident in the area for at least twenty five years but sadly, this year, they disappeared. So I sat gazing out of the patio windows hoping for a glimpse when a familiar bird swept past the window and alighted on the feeders just ten feet away from me. I called Liz and ran for a camera - nothing ready to hand so I assembled what I had and crept back into the sitting room - the bird was still there. Over the next few minutes it terrorised the garden - even walking through the bottom of a tangle of ground level branches in an attempt  to grab a sparrow. These shots are what I could manage on a dark dreary day with no light and shooting through double glazing - hope he comes back on a sunny day.


Three shots to record yesterday's foray into East Sussex for the Glossy Ibis at Pett Level, unfortunately a no show both am and pm. But a visit to Dungeness provided some entertainment.

Wednesday 9 December 2015


The end of year dilemma continues - where to go today? The weather was ideal, sunshine  forecast all day and the heavy winds of late have disappeared. Finally we made a decision to head west to Pagham Harbour - always a banker.  We started at the North Wall, the tide was in but few birds had relocated to Breech Pool, just a handful of ducks and the obligatory Snipe. As we walked along the path two birds caught the eye, the first a Yellowhammer feeding on the path and happy to pose until a dog walker flushed it.

Out in the harbour the second bird, an unusual looking Wigeon, considerable white on the flank and a much reduced crown stripe, couldn't make up my mind whether it was a hybrid or just a juvenile. Pictures of both normal and oddity provided.

Then round to the Lagoon to see if we could locate Bart's dark Herring Gull, looking a good candidate for the American species it was worth investing some time to see if we could obtain some photographs. Unfortunately a no show but the Goldeneye kept us entertained for a while.

We finished the day at WWT Arundel, unfortunately nothing much to record as the Shovelers steadfastly refused to come close to the hide. The Kingfisher remained on the far side of the lake and the resident Grey Wagtail did the disappearing act before I could get my camera out.

Several other photographs collected during our visits to Dagenham Chase and Rainham Marshes, a great day out in what was new territory for me. Unfortunately we dipped both our intended targets, the Ferruginous Duck had gone AWOL and the Water Pipits failed to show.

In the garden the unseasonal mild weather has resulted in unexpected insect activity. The winter flowering honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima playing host to two species of hoverfly - Scaeva selenitica, Meliscaeva auricollis and White-tailed Bumblebees.


Some carrying mites.

Even a Honey Bee taking advantage of the late/very early season bounty.
 Thanks to Russ Tofts for the ID of the Hoverflies - will have to try and record some more.

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Ring-necked Ducks

It was the usual dilemma, as we sat in the car we had to decide where to go and the choice was limited. For a start the weather was really dull and overcast and the forecast promised no improvement. On offer were some Red-breasted Mergansers at the Widewater, subjects that we had captured several times previously and experience told us that the light conditions would be difficult. So in the end we opted for a new venue and the possibility of a life tick. Two Ring-necked Ducks had been in residence at Rooksbury Mill near Andover. Careful navigation of some of the back lanes of Hampshire allowed us to avoid the congestion of the M27 and apart from one minor error we duly arrived at the venue without mishap.

By the time we arrived the skies were brightening somewhat and the temperature was exceedingly pleasant. The ducks had not been reported the previous day but earlier sightings gave the Mill Lake as the place to be. Our first scan revealed very little, just a few Little Grebes and Moorhens to be found. Where were the flocks of Tufted Ducks that we had expected to search through to find the target?

A check of the other lake, Brooks, raised the spirits as here were small numbers of ducks, Gadwall, Mallard and Tufted, sadly no RnDs. Chatting with a local helped but left us feeling that we were on a good chance of dipping. Luckily we decided to give the larger lake another go and as we crossed over the River Anton we could see two ducks out in the middle of the lake - scrutiny with the bins confirmed that we had found our quarry - a life tick for us both!

So we took advantage of the bankside cover and positioned ourselves to get some better shots, even the sun came out at one stage. These two were definitely wary of human presence and though they were feeding happily they stayed out in the middle of the lake, occasionally coming closer to us as several dog walkers using the path on the other side of the lake forced them over.


All very similar  - only the light changed.

Having taken more than enough shots, there are only so many poses that two ducks can perform, we left - well pleased.  We decided to find another venue that we have read about but never visited - the watercress beds at Alresford, just in case a Water Pipit was about.
We found the place - purely by happenstance -  we noted Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Green Sandpiper and the ubiquitous Little Egret but unfortunately no sign of a Water Pipit. On the way home we visited another watercress bed, this time the one at Warnford in the Meon Valley, nothing to raise the pulse, just a Pied Wagtail and a Little Egret.

Plenty of bugs in a watercress bed!