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.
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.
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.