Monday 21 January 2019

Snow Bunting

Nice to have a good looking bird on the patch, well actually it happens most years when a Snow Bunting turns up at Goring Gap. Lots of reports in the twittersphere convinced me to give it a couple of coats of looking at. I parked up in the likely area around 0800, people had obviously left feed for the bird as the Crows were having a field day. No sign until a lady returning from a walk along the beach said that she had found it and showed me a cracking photo - I thanked her from a distance as I was already on  my way. I searched in the described areas but couldn't find it until another birder almost stepped on it. Like most Snow Buntings, it was extremely confiding - happy to pose in exchange for some seed or meal worms. Surprisingly,  most of the dog walkers, joggers  and even the ladies keep fit group were happy to change direction on seeing a load of photographers lying on the shingle.  To them a hearty thank you, to the woman who refused and walked straight through spooking the bird - well my words are unprintable. Why are some dog walkers so arrogant that they think the environment is for their sole use - rant over.

Four record shots of the male Black Redstart at Shoreham Fort......

....and three from last year, the Great Grey Shrike and Crossbill at Wren's Warren in the Ashdown Forest.

Thursday 17 January 2019

Water Rail

Photographs have been hard to come by of late, lots of trips out for no reward. It isn't that we haven't seen good birds, Black Redstart, Short-eared Owl, Hume's Warbler and a Ringtail Hen Harrier have been the highlights, but unfortunately no success in the photographic department. We set out today to do the rounds of our usual haunts, plenty of birds on the North Wall at Pagham but nothing new or exciting. Similarly Church Norton was populated with all the regulars but we didn't find the ever present Whimbrel.

Finally I suggested that we should get out of the biting cold northerly wind and  have a cup of tea at the the Wildfowl and Wetland Centre at Arundel. It's always good for a photograph or two and I jokingly predicted Water Rail, Bullfinch, Snipe and Kingfisher - blow me down we got all four. However, we never got round to having a pot of tea.

When we arrived we took a leisurely stroll round the reedbed boardwalk hoping for a skulking Water Rail, not a bird to be seen, we didn't disturb even a Mallard.  It wasn't looking too good. However when we approached one of the hides there was a small congregation of photographers with lenses pointing at a small brown object just over the fence.  We joined them and filled our boots as they say. In fact most of those who were there went off to photograph a Chiffchaff and we had the bird to ourselves. A Chiffchaff!! that's a garden tick - no contest against a very obliging Water Rail.

The bird alternated between the deep shade and bright sunlight and compensating for that was hard work but I also learned the obvious, that during feeding its head and bill were in constant motion and that shutter speed was critical.

Having expended gigapixels on such a fine subject we continued our meandering, a Kingfisher perched but was obscured by willow branches and was a tad too distant for a decent shot. Plenty of Snipe were about and one posed well for us.

Plenty of Snipe on the reserve.

Finally on the way back to the VC we spotted a female Bullfinch, just a bit too far away for a good shot, we waited patiently, in the hope that she might relocate or be joined by a bright red male - no such luck. Just good to be out with some birds and sunshine which afforded me sufficient material for my first blog of 2019, long may it continue.