Friday, 24 April 2015

Garden Warbler

I woke up this morning to what looked like a thick sea mist. I live close to the coast so there was always the hope that by the time I got to the top of the road I would be back in sunshine. No such luck this time and when I got to Pulborough Brooks I found myself sitting in a hide looking out at a bank of colourless grey fog.

It's probably appropriate then, that the first bird that appeared was a Grey Heron. The shots of the Heron below are far better than I saw on the day, its amazing what you can do in Photoshop to recover a picture.

Why does it look surprised? Well it had strayed too close to a Lapwings nest and it was under attack.

Look out

a warning pass

Followed by an exhibition of high speed precision flying -
a few inches lower and it would be impaled on the Heron's bill

Still defiant but moving away

and the Lapwing still intent on protecting it's territory

I was surprised that the Heron made no attempt to use its bill to defend itself. I would have thought that a quick stab would have brought the Lapwing down. But then I am thinking like a human and not like a bird. These territorial disputes probably have an etiquette that ensures that neither party gets injured.

With the fog gradually lifting I went to have a look at the Nightingales. An hour listening and watching these raised the spirits but did not give me many picture opportunities. They seem to have an uncanny ability to always perch with small branches in front of them.

In full song

From a distance the North Brooks did not look very promising but I decided to walk round to Nettley's Hide for a closer look. I am glad I did. There were distant views of a couple of Greenshanks and also a Green Sandpiper.


Green Sandpiper

Linnets, Sedge Warblers, and Whitethroats were also showing well in front of the hide.


Sedge Warbler


The best find of the day, for me, was a Garden Warbler. This is a bird that always gives me problems but this time I managed to locate it from its song.

Garden Warbler

Sometimes you can walk around Pulborough Brooks and not see anything but today it was well worth the effort.

In the afternoon I went down to Selsey, mainly to look for the Sandpipers that have been reported on the Ferry Pool. There were none there on the way through but on returning later I found a Common at the back of the pool, a first for me this year.

I found the local Kestrel on the ground in the pumping station and in the process of devouring what ever it had caught. I grabbed my camera but I was stuck on the wrong side of the road, unable to cross because of the amount of traffic going by. I had to settle for a flight shot later.


A visit to the North Wall was equally disappointing. Last week it was flooded, this week it has the lowest water levels I have ever seen. Whoever controls the sluice gates seems to be doing their best to destroy the habitat.

Little Ringed Plover on the drying up bed of the Breech Pool. It should be under a couple of feet of water.

A great day out spoilt by what seems to be the wanton destruction of one of my favourite birding spots.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Mating Bloody-nosed Beetles

Well at least it's a title that I haven't used before.

I travelled around a few local sites today, looking for some of the birds that had been reported, but without much luck. The highpoint of the day were these two Bloody-nosed Beetles that I watched for about an hour. You have to admire his stamina, he didn't even take a break in that time. On the other hand the female didn't seem to notice he was there and just carried on walking for the whole time he was engaged.

Bloody-nosed Beetles

There were a lot more pictures but they don't really add much value. There was not a lot of variation in the action. The most interesting thing was the little pads on his feet that he uses to hang on. I must try to find out if they are suction or sticky.

Birds photographed were all at Old Lodge NR in Ashdown Forest. I managed to see five Redstars but I could not get a decent picture of any of them.

Male Redstart

A bit closer but a photograph of the wrong end

There were also Tree Pipits present enabling a comparison of  Meadow and Tree pipit.

Tree Pipit

Meadow Pipit

The usual Stonechats, although it was difficult to capture the contrasting black and white colours in the bright sunlight.


Woodlarks and plenty of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs.


Contrasting colours but I am assuming that both of these are Willow Warblers

A good days birding but with Hoopoe, Wryneck, Ring Ouzel, Greater Yellowlegs, and Bee-eater being reported I could have hoped for something more.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Black-winged Stilt

I was back at Pagham Harbour Ferry Pool early this morning and fortunately so was the Black-winged Stilt. It was hiding behind the reeds when I got there but then came out, gave me a chance to take a couple of distant shots and then flew to the back of the pool where it was beyond my range. It's not a brilliant shot but I am happy to have it, although I wouldn't complain if it decided to give me a close up exclusive.

Black-winged Stilt

There were about sixty Black-tailed Godwits on the pool and another larger flock wheeling out over the harbour. Other birds of interest were a Little Ringed Plover, a majestic looking Grey Heron, and a Spotted Redshank.

Little Ringed Plover

Grey Heron

Black-tailed Godwits with what looks like a Spotted Redshank turning summer plumage on the left

I had a walk around Northcommon Farm but all the migrants from the past couple of days seem to have moved on. All I could see were three Wheatears and a very distant Hobby passing through in the fields at the end of Golf Links Lane.


Church Norton was very similar with just a few of the usual suspects on the water and in the bushes and a couple of possible Whimbrels out in the harbour. The church yard itself was being subjected to its usual cut and burn maintenance so there was little point in looking in there. The only bird worth photographing was this Lapwing seen in the fields by Rectory Lane.


I finished up at the North Wall which has been very disappointing of late. At least today there was a good level of water in the Breech Pool although it has probably wiped out anything that had started to nest in the dried out conditions that have prevailed of late.

There were two Wheatears feeding along the wall and a couple of Little Grebes in one of the pools.


Little Grebe

Another great day, the birding has really taken off over the past week.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Pied Flycatcher

There has been some good birding over the past few days, although the picture opportunities have not been so great. We had a big fall of birds over Sunday night, Monday morning and with thick sea mists rolling in the birds stayed on the coast. The bushes around Selsey were full of hundreds and more likely thousands of Willchaffs and there were probably rarities in there as well but there were just too many birds to look at.

We missed a Black-winged Stilt by minutes and also failed to find a reported Grasshopper Warbler but we had great views of a pair of Redstarts and two Pied Flycatchers. The fall also included Greenfinches and Blackcaps and it also looked as though there were more Robins about.

Pied Flycatcher

Pied Flycatcher

Pied Flycatcher

Willow Warbler

Willow Warbler

Female Blackcap

Male Blackcap

We also had views of a Short-eared Owl quartering the fields just below the Long Pool at Pagham Harbour.

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Then today it was over to Pullborough Brooks to see the Nightingales. They were there and were doing some singing but they were not showing very well. They probably need another week before they start setting up their territories.




Lets hope for a few more good birds over the coming days.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Ring-necked Parakeets

I was staying in East London for a couple of days so got up early Friday morning and went out onto Dagenham Chase to listen to the dawn chorus. With the sun just breaking the horizon, with bird song all around, and with about 260 hectares of green space, it was easy to forget that I was in the middle of one of the most "developed" areas in the country. Even the odd pile of discarded drinks containers and fast food wrappers could not spoil the feel of the place. For once I was even out before the dog walkers.

Song Thrush in the early morning light

Dunnock - probably my most photographed bird

I don't really associate Jays with the dawn chorus but it was great to see these two feeding out in one of the open spaces, although they quickly fled back into the trees when they spotted me.


I saw over forty species of birds in the hour and a half after dawn. Most were the common species but Ring-necked Parakeets and an Egyptian Goose were firsts for me this year. The Egyptian Geese have now used the area for breeding for the last three years, although sadly, I was told that all nine of the chicks they produced this year have been predated.

Egyptian Goose

Then a screech, a flash of green and the Parakeets appeared. I know they are officially classed as a pest, I know there are flocks of hundreds around London, and I know they are a threat to some of our resident birds but I don't get to see them very often and I just like the colour, the movement and the noise that they add to the birding scene.

Ring-necked Parakeets

These are probably females as they do not show
the rose pink and black collars of the males

I was told that the Parakeets had recently arrived in the area in large numbers. Their dispersement around the country seems slow but relentless and they will soon cover the whole of the South of England.

At the other end of the day I managed a quick walk around Rainham Marshes RSPB. There wasn't much time to stop and search but we did manage to see a Spoonbill and a Garganey, my second for the week, and we had good views of a Cettie's that popped out on the reeds in front of us.


I made a quick search of the stone barges area but could not find any Water Pipits. I think they must have mostly moved north for the summer but I am still hopeful of catching up with one before the end of the month.