Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Distant Views

Distant is going to be the theme of this blog. Distant views and long shots and those have been the good days. It seems to have been a couple of weeks since I have had a good birding day. A trip down to the New Forest gave me a Tawney Owl but it was deep in a hole in the tree with only half its back showing. There was also a Great Grey Shrike, a distant shot but it's the only picture I came home with that day.

Great Grey Shrike

We spent most of the morning trying to locate a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker that we could occasionally here drumming but did not seem to be able to get anywhere near. I did manage to end up in a bog over my knees - exiting stuff and a good way of improving the camouflage but it hardly makes up for missing the LSW. The afternoon was spent looking for the Long-billed Dowitcher at Pennington Marshes. Our second attempt to get the year tick but we dipped it yet again.

Other days out included three attempts at a Spoonbill. One on Farlington Marsh and two at Cuckmere Haven and a couple of goes at the Red-necked Grebe seen in the Budds Wall area. The birds were all reported on the days I visited so I must just have been unlucky with the timing of my visits.

Today saw us back to the New Forest. It looked like being a sunny day and we had hopes of seeing a Goshawk. It did not quite work out the way we had planned. The mist/fog took a lot longer to clear than we expected so much of the morning was wasted. We decided to divert to Pennington Marsh for another go at the Long-billed Dowitcher and this time we were lucky. Long distance shots but the bird was actively feeding out in the open, as compared to when I saw it back in August of last year, when it was skulking away in the reeds most of the time, looking very much like a Snipe.

Long-billed Dowitcher

It looks a very different bird in its winter plumage with grey breast and white belly. Back in August it had a rusty orange breast and belly.

Snipe with Long-billed Dowitcher disappearing into the reeds

And with Wigeon landing in the background

The water levels in the marshes were considerably down on last week and waders were more in evidence although I have yet to see any form of Sandpiper this year. Most birds were too distant for good photographs although the diffuse lighting enabled a reasonable shot of this Little Egret.

Little Egret

Lets hope the birding is on an upward trend. The Long-billed Dowitcher is a good year tick and although we did not see a Goshawk we came away with a couple of good sites to revisit and some ideas for Honey Buzzards later in the year. Watch this space.


  1. Nice Blog, it was good to see the LBD in the open. I was the chap with the SX50. Ian

    1. Hi Ian - I hope you got some decent pictures. I use the SX50 myself. With a 1200mm equivalent lens and light weight it makes a good birding camera. It can be a bit difficult to hold steady and to focus but its a lot easier to carry than the setup I was using yesterday.