Monday, 4 November 2013

Grey Phalarope, Snow Bunting, and Kingfisher

Travelling back from Canterbury Sunday afternoon I stopped off at Tide Mills to see the Grey Phalarope that had been reported there. I was on site between 2.00 and 3.00 but saw nothing. It was only when I got  home that I found reports of sightings at both 1.30 and 3.30. Perhaps it had flown out to sea whilst I was there or perhaps I was just not looking hard enough. What ever the reason I was determined to have another go.

Monday morning, I picked Dave up, and we headed back to Tide Mills. Bit of a risk really. Dave has dipped a few birds recently and we were starting to think he was turning into a jinx. Fortunately everything went well this time. A couple of birders had already located the Phalarope when we arrived and we soon had good views.

Grey Phalarope

We watched it for a couple of hours. The bird spent most of the time feeding with occasional rest periods spent in the shelter of small rocks. Most of the feeding was in shallow water with the bird walking rather than swimming and finding huge numbers of worms. If its only interest is food it could be staying for a while.

actively feeding

finding lots of worms

The species spends the summer in the high Arctic with Iceland being its southernmost breeding location. They then migrate to the South Atlantic for the winter rarely visiting land.

Known as the Grey Phalarope in this country where it is seen in its non-breeding plumage most books refer to them as Red Phalarope on account of their stunning red breeding colours.  The female has brighter colouration than the male. They are also unusual in that the male takes responsibility for incubation of the eggs and care of the young with the female either mating a second time or starting migration early.

Easy to photograph - they seem unconcerned about people being around

As the tide came in and the mud was covered up the bird gradually moved away and we decided to move on.

We did find a Bar-headed Goose in amongst some Canada Geese. Interesting but probably an escapee. I saw one earlier in the year on the Arun and there have been a few other reports recently.

Bar-headed Goose

However, most of the afternoon was spent watching and photographing an obliging Kingfisher. I thought the pictures were going to be fantastic, but maybe we were a little bit too far away, the lighting was not quite right, or the photographer was not quite up to the job.
I came away with some good record shots but they could have been so much better.

Kingfisher on perch
Looks like a female with the red base to lower mandible
Successful dive

Note the way the wing and back colour change from greenish through to bright blue dependant on lighting conditions

I tried to capture a shot of it diving into the water but ended up with dozens of empty frames. Even flight shots proved difficult. I know I should be using shutter speeds of a round 1/2000sec to freeze the action but the high ISO required to deliver these speeds would give an unacceptable level of noise in the picture.

Taken at 1/800sec but still too slow

And to finish off with a couple of shots of the Snow Bunting on Worthing beach at the end of last week.

Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting

Another good days birding. We really seem to have left the doldrums of the late summer behind.

No comments:

Post a Comment