Monday, 11 August 2014

Long-tailed Skua

I have been tempted by the attractions of the Dark Side (butterflies) for most of the summer and the force is strong but the thought of spending the winter counting butterfly eggs was too much for me. So today it was back to birding and a very successful if somewhat disappointing day. Successful in that I got a decent picture of a Turtle Dove, something I have been trying to get for a long time and also a picture of a Long-tailed Skua. The Skua is a life tick for me, I have probably seen them before but I only count them when I have a good record shot. Disappointing in that both birds only really gave us one pose before flying off. I got plenty of shots but they all looked the same. The Long-tailed Skua was my own fault in that it changed positions once and I missed it and then when it flew off I failed to get a single flight shot.

First stop of the day was Woods Mill Nature Reserve where the Turtle Dove has been showing well and does not seem to be disturbed either by groups of exited children running about or by the local Great Spotted Woodpecker with whom it disputes some of the best perches.

Turtle Dove

I was a bit disappointed with Woods Mill when I visited earlier in the year. Cleaning out the pools seemed to have drastically reduced the insect populations which would have a knock on effect with Dragonflies and other creatures higher up in the food chain. However, recent visits have shown a much more vibrant environment.

We had a quick stop at the Steyning rifle range as I still need to see a Brown Hairstreak but with the wind picking up and frequent showers it was soon clear that it was not going to happen. Reports were still coming in of the Long-tailed Skua on the beach between Church Norton and Selsey so we decided to give that a go.

Parking up on the east beach we had about a half mile walk eastwards to where we fond a couple of birders observing the Skua roosting on the beach. It had apparently just relieved some of the local Terns of their catch and it was now happily sitting digesting its hard won meal.

Long-tailed Skua

The bird seems healthy enough, feeding and flying well, but it seems strange that it should be hanging about on a beach in Selsey for five days now.

On the way home we stopped off at the Ferry Pool to have a look at the Black-winged Stilts. The family of two adults and three young were present so they seem to have abandoned Pulborough Brooks and returned to the Selsey area. They were showing well but with back lighting on them and with a strong wind still blowing it was not worth taking any pictures. It is strange how a bird that I had not seen until a few months ago is now so common place that it's not worth a picture. Not entirely true though, if they stay I will be returning on a better day to improve on my existing record shots.

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