Wednesday, 26 March 2014


The birding has been a bit of a mixed bag of late. There has been a shortage of waders for the first three months of the year and even the usual small birds seem to be keeping a low profile of late. I have not had many good picture opportunities recently and the birding seems to have all been a bit flat. Strange then that, when I check back, the week has been quite successful with five year ticks and one life tick.

Perhaps the most rewarding was catching up with the Cuckmere Spoonbill. This was my fifth attempt at this bird. Previous visits had involve a walk along both paths on the Western side and detailed scanning of the channels and ditches. Other than the White-fronted Geese I saw nothing, but on every occasion the bird was reported on the same day. This time we parked up on Seaford Head and scoped the area from a distance. Not a very satisfactory approach but we did eventually manage to pick it up over in the lagoon on the eastern side.

Other ticks that day were a Linnet and a Black Redstart at Tidemills and Kittiwake at Seaford Head. Whilst I managed distant record shots of all of these birds the only shot worth publishing is this slightly out of focus Skylark.


Today I visited Kent and with the M20 passing within a mile of Snodland it seemed an ideal opportunity to catch up with the Hoopoe that had been reported there. I managed to park in the wrong place but after a short walk I eventually found the bird, although I only managed four shots before it disappeared into cover.

Hoopoe - my first in this country

Feeling flushed with success I thought why not try for the two reported Garganey at Allhallows, its only a few miles away. So I did, but without any luck. If they were there they were staying in cover or were both females that I was unable to separate from the female Teal. Then I thought, there is another Garganey reported at Restharrow Scrape in Sandwich Bay, this time a male, its only a few more miles away (65 to be exact). Can I justify the mileage, I don't really go in for twitches, but then this is not really a twitch.

I arrived at the hide only to be told  the usual, you should have been here ten minutes ago it was swimming around in front of the hide, and the guy had superb pictures to prove it. I eventually managed a brief view through the bins when it appeared in a gap in the reeds. If I was just a birder I could have gone home happy. Being a photographer, I wanted a picture and I was still sitting in the hide three and a half hours later when I had to finally accept that I was not going to get a picture in the dark.

A bit of a frustrating week as far as the photography goes, my only consolation, telling my birding buddy Dave about the Hoopoe and Garganey. It doesn't quite make up for his Capercaillie and Crested Tit but it helps.


  1. Hi Martin,

    I'm hoping to see the Hoopoe soon, where is the correct place to park? Also which areas does it favor most?

    Thanks, Jack

    1. Hi Jack

      Head north from the M20 on the A228 and look for a turn off on the left for the Oastpark Golf Course and Sandhole Veterinary Centre. You should be able to park up near the veterinary centre. The Hoopoe has been seen on the golf course and various fields around but its favoured spot can be found by walking north on the footpath. There is a large distribution warehouse on the right and a field on the left where it is often found. There are a couple of spots towards the top of the field giving good views.

      Good Luck - Martin