Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Hooded Crow




The birding has been a bit slow this past week but I was eventually tempted down to Pagham Harbour to look for the Hooded Crow. It, or another one like it, had been reported regularly from the Medmerry site over the past couple of months but locating it there was pure luck.

With reports of a Hooded Crow on Pagham Spit the chances of success looked a bit more favourable and with a Sussex tick on offer it was worth making the trip.






Arriving early morning with the sun shining, the tide out, and no dog walkers in sight the prospects looked promising, although the area of beach to search did surprise me. Last time I was there it had mostly been washed away and the beach houses were under threat of disappearing into the sea.

After inspecting a few Carrion Crows I eventually found the Hoodie foraging by itself by the edge of a tidal pool. It let me approach to a reasonable distance but then when I tried to get closer started walking away to maintain a safe distance. Not too bad though, particularly as I had the light behind me.






I thought it would eventually get comfortable with me being there and I would get a better shot but just as it seemed to be gaing confidence the inevitable dog appeared over the top of the beach and the bird took flight landing on the Church Norton Spit on the other side of the harbour breach. Fifty yards for the bird, a twelve mile drive and half an hours walk for me.

There were other birds about but all a bit distant. The Peregrines were sitting on their island. Worth recording but it's just a bit too distant for a good shot.






Fortunately I had another target. When I parked the car I had flushed a single Golden Plover from the shingle at the side of the Pagham Lagoon. It seemed reluctant to fly, or perhaps unable to fly and after a couple of record shots I left it in peace. Returning to the car two hours later it was still there so using the car as a hide I was able to get a few better shots.









It seemed healthy enough and was moving around without difficulty but this is a flock bird. I am not sure why it was by itself and or why it was reluctant to fly. It's not usually a good sign.






A few other shots  -  the long staying and very reliable Church Norton Whimbrel.






And a couple from a disappointing trip down to Dungeness. Ruff at Scotney Pit and  male Smew on Burrows Pit






The Smew was very mobile and in windy conditions I couldn't get a decent shot even though I tracked it around the various pits for most of the morning.






I also managed to see Tree Sparrows, Cattle Egret, a Great White Egret and probably the Whooper Swans. The later were in the right place, just north of Cockles Bridge feeding with the Mutes. I could see yellow on the bill but they were just too distant to be certain particularly as there were a number of Bewicks in the area.





Monday, 28 January 2019

Goosander





Although birding has its share of surprises you find yourself repeating some activities every year and you know exactly how it is going to pan out. End of January and it's time to head over to Petworth Park to look for the Goosanders.

I love to see them but it is always a frustrating trip. There is very little cover around the lake and Goosanders tend to be very wary, staying well away from people. Poke your head up to take a picture and all you get is the backend as they disappear across the lake. Strangely dog walkers can be quite useful here. They can be a bit annoying when they wander over to ask you what you are looking for but one walking round the far side of the lake can often flush the birds towards you.






It is always difficult to get decent pictures of the Goosanders. On the male, the contrast between the black and white plumage is difficult for the camera to deal with and the green gloss on the head is only visible in good light. The red head females are easier but on this occasion the two I saw both stayed close to the island in heavy cover, only venturing out to chase the males away. So true to form I came away with the usual record shots and I still don't have a decent picture of a male Goosander.








Today was a real mixture of ups and downs. An early morning and then late afternoon visit to Pulborough Brooks to see the White-fronted Geese was looking like a waste of time. No White fronts, very little else other than half a dozen female Bullfinches a few Black-tailed Godwits and a distant Jay. Then as I was leaving just after sunset a couple of flyover Woodcock. My thanks to Matt for advice on the best place to stand to see them.

As well as Petworth, I also managed to fit in a trip to Warnham Nature reserve and spent an hour watching an assortment of small birds around the feeders at the Woodpecker hide. The two I was after were Siskin and Marsh Tit but preferably with them giving picture opportunities away from the feeders. The Siskin was obliging, the Marsh Tit less so.



Siskin


Marsh Tit


There were a good selection of other birds present, Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tits, Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Nuthatches, Sparrows, Reed Buntings, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Blackbirds, Magpie, Wren, Pheasants, Mallards and with that selection always the chance of a Sparrow Hawk through. That's just the count from the Woodpecker hide. It's probably a good place to drop into if you still have a bird race to do. The only downside is that there haven't been any Redpoll on the feeders for a few years.



Long-tailed Tit


Song Thrush


Wren


There were plenty of ducks around today but, with the exception of the Brents, there seems to be a shortage of Geese and Waders. I am not sure if I want a cold snap to get there numbers up and to drive the Waxwings down into Sussex or if I would prefer a mild February to increase the number of small birds and to give the Dartford Warblers another successful year.





Friday, 25 January 2019

Black Redstart





Just a few pictures from earlier in the week. Best picture opportunity was the Black Redstart at Shoreham Fort. It has been around for a few weeks now but it's such a good looking bird that we always drop in for another look when passing. 



Black Redstart






It is not easy to get a good picture but the results are well worth the effort. I am sure that I will be going back for another go.


A walk out on Chantry Hill gave us Ravens, Buzzards, Grey and Red-legged Partridges, Fieldfares, lots of small birds including Mipits, Skylarks and 30 to 40 Yellowhammers but no sign of the usual Corn Buntings. I am keeping my fingers crossed for the Partridges with just one week to go before the close of the shooting season.



Yellowhammer


At Waltham Sewage Works a Grey Wagtail, probably a dozen or more Chiffchaffs, and a Goldcrest on the access road.



Chiffchaff


Goldcrest


A Rock Pipit at Seaford Head but no Kittiwakes and another visit to the Newhaven Hume's Warbler but still no picture.



Rock Pipit


Perhaps best of all my garden birding has picked up. I don't get a lot of variety but this morning I had a Blackcap on the feeders and later I was able to photograph it, tucking into a pear that I had put out. Whilst I was trying to photograph that a Redwing dropped in and finished off the last of the holly berries.



Blackcap


Redwing





It was very misty in the garden this morning but there was just enough light to be able to get the pictures.