Sunday, 5 January 2014

Hove - Grey Phalarope

I had just decided to pay a visit to the Gull roost at Goring when an alert came through for a Grey Phalarope on the children's paddling pool at Hove Lagoon. It seemed a bit unlikely. The pool is in a really busy area, it was a Sunday afternoon, and the first dry day for a long time. It would be packed with people, children, and dogs, and it was probably the last place I would think of looking for such a bird. Still, if there it would be a year tick and its not a bird I could guarantee catching up with later in the year.

I am glad I went and my thanks to whoever put out the alert. It was a great bird to see and it seemed to have no fear of people or dogs.

Grey Phalarope

It was overcast and drizzling by the time I got there so the pictures were never going to be brilliant but I did get a few record shots. It was not too difficult, as the bird was quite happy feeding only a few feet away from the gathered watchers. In fact I would have been better off with a smaller lens as most of the time I found myself having to back away from the bird to get the big lens to focus.

It did go out on the larger lagoon a couple of times but kept returning to the paddling pool which is only a few inches deep. They do seem to favour walking around in shallow water when they are feeding over having to swim on deeper water but I am not sure what food it would have found in the paddling pool.

On the way home I called in to Widewater to see he Red-breasted Mergansers. The weather was even worse by then and pictures were very difficult. They have been there for a few weeks now but I have yet to see them on a decent day.

Red-breasted Mergansers

Still, getting a picture of one catching a fish made it worthwhile.

Red-breasted Merganser with fish

 The gulls were out over the sea and seemed to be having a great time with the wind and waves. There is probably a lot of food being washed up and there were certainly more gulls on the sea at both Hove and Widewater than I would normally expect to see. Great to watch but all the action made it very difficult to spot anything unusual amongst them.

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