Tuesday, 22 January 2013

On Seawatching

Interesting but I cannot see it catching on!

I tried a seawatch for the first time yesterday morning. Hardcore birding as I have seen it described. The sea was calm and there were plenty of birds about. We could identify Common Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Great Crested Grebe, and Gannet with probable sightings of Guillemot and various Grebes. However, I left feeling something was missing. This was not what I wanted from bird watching. Lots of black dots, mostly unrecognisable, no chance of getting pictures, and an element of doubt in anything you do identify.

For me birdwatching is about getting up close, making a positive identification, and getting a good quality record shot. Or, perhaps being a bit more realistic, having a good enough record shot to be able to go home and make the identification against the Collins Guide.

Arriving home with no pictures to look at also left something missing from the day. Fortunately I was home by 10.30 and after an early lunch I was soon starting to get edgy. I headed off into the snow flurries hoping the reflection from the snow would give the extra couple of stops needed for decent pictures. There were certainly a lot of birds about.

The cold weather has caused a lot of bird movement. Thousands of Fieldfares have been heading west in flocks of a few birds through to a few hundred. Great to look at but they are stripping all the berries from the trees and bushes. What will the the other birds live on and perhaps more interestingly where are the Redwings? We even had a dozen Fieldfares in the garden, a first that I can remember.

Fieldfare in the Garden
Looking for water to drink

On the local Gull roost at Goring Gap

 Other notable birds were Meadow Pipits and dozens of Skylarks down on the coastal fields looking for food. All of the birds seemed really focussed on feeding and were not too bothered by people being close to them.

Skylark on the local Gull roost at Goring Gap
Skylark on the local Gull roost at Goring Gap

 A meadow Pipit running around in the failing light in search of that last mouthful of food.

Meadow Pipit in a hurry

Finally, on the way home I spotted Waxwings in Rustington. They have been returning to the roundabout on the A259 for a couple of weeks now but this was the first time I had spotted them. No light for a picture but this was a year tick for me and not too worried as I doubt that I would have been able to improve on the shots shown on my December blog.

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