Tuesday 19 December 2017


We started the day looking for the Temminck's Stint at Pulborough Brooks. Of course with the expectations of a small bird a great distance away, we were not to be disappointed. After visits to the West Mead and Winpenny hides, where we had observed an extremely pale Buzzard, two Peregrines, flyby Sparrowhawk and a Kingfisher, we finally connected with the Stint from the Hanger viewpoint. Absolutely no  chance of a photograph. A result all the same - life tick for Martin, year and Sussex tick for me.

The weather was perfect so we decided to make our way to Weir Wood, Bramblings reported under the feeders and every chance of some shots. It's odd how, after a just a short passage of time, the memory of a venue gets recalled. I had forgotten how difficult the light can be at this site, lots of tree cover providing shade, even though the leaves have long gone. Of course the main factor was that the Bramblings had disappeared.

So an early trek home with nothing in the camera but as we passed Shoreham we diverted to Widewater - just a chance of a Red-breasted Merganser or Goosander and the light was perfect. Neither were about but a lone Knot was feeding confidently by the causeway and as we stood there, came right under our feet until the inevitable dog walker spooked it. 

A pair of Stonechats posed well, one at either end of the "keep your dogs on a lead" sign. A few more shots of the Knot, unfortunately in the shade, and it was time for home. Back at base Liz reported a Fieldfare in the crab apple tree, hopefully it will return today and give a photo opportunity.

Last time we had a decent amount of snow we had a Fieldfare "invasion", the snow turned orange and the tree was stripped in a few hours. Liz had to make a visit to the local greengrocers for an emergency supply of apples, they didn't last long either. Not a good video but it does show how many birds were present, of course supplemented by a host of Redwings

Normally the crab apples are still on the tree at the end of winter, a few Blackbirds have a go and the Wood Pigeons eat them as a final resort. Just occasionally when we get a cold snap the birds take them - perhaps one year some Waxwings?

Wednesday 6 December 2017

Barred Warbler

I managed to kill three birds with one stone today, a necessary visit to Portsmouth, taking the hardly used car for a much needed run and a trip to Titchfield Haven for the juvenile Barred Warbler. Business out of the way I made my way to Hill Head, the skies growing ever darker, no suggestion of any brighter periods on the horizon. As I arrived at the visitor centre quite a few birders were already on the bird. So there it was, my first UK sighting. Now down to the impossible task of getting a record shot, cranking up the ISO to annoying levels, that level where noise becomes intrusive - but better than getting no shot at all, then a quiet prayer that perhaps a sunny interval might just arrive when the bird was perched in the open - not today I am afraid.

The warbler disappeared for at least an hour so I made my way down to the spit in search of some "usual suspects" or padding for the blog. There were a few Ringed Plover, Sanderlings, Dunlin and Turnstones on the shingle doing what I call "looking busy" until the tide ebbs and the real food becomes available. Fat chance of any reasonable shots and the rain was just starting - time for home and some sustenance.

Not many catchlights about today!

Looking busy

Monday 4 December 2017

Black Guillemot

Whilst we were photographing the Parrot Crossbills last weeek we were both wondering if the juvenile Black Guillemot that was residing in Sovereign Harbour at Eastbourne would hang around long enough for us to get a Sussex tick. Well the upshot was that it was reported yesterday, so today's venue was a no-brainer. We arrived at the harbour entrance but couldn't find the bird so we started a circumnavigation of the inner harbour. Although I am of advancing years my eyesight is still pretty good, how we walked by such an obliging bird I'll never know, good job that I was making an occasional glance behind me. There it was, as bold as brass amongst the pontoons and only yards away.  Same old routine - get some record shots and then try to improve the capture.

The bird seems to be in good health and is not going short of food as there is an abundance of small fish available. In fact as we watched it managed to catch a Pipe fish and entertained us trying to get it down its throat.

Having recorded the bird satisfactorily we headed off for Norman's Bay and a reported Snow Bunting. Not hard to find for as we arrived six birders were in attendance, most of them with cameras. Nice to meet David Gardiner and Bob Eade. I couldn't raise much enthusiasm for the bunting so snapped it perfunctorily, noting that it looked a tad damp and dishevelled so wasn't the ideal subject.

Finally a visit to Warnham failed to give any more photographs but it was good to see the improvements made to the site - cracking new and very comfortable hide overlooking the lake.