Friday, 28 August 2015


I finally managed to catch up with the Church Norton Wryneck, although it was not very obliging and stayed deep in cover for most of the time that I watched it. I had missed them on the spring migration so this was a welcome year tick for me.

I had hoped for a better picture but after about five minutes the bird dropped into the long grass to feed and had not reappeared when I left an hour later


There seems to have been a shortage of small birds around the hide and cemetery areas at Church Norton of late but today restored my faith in the area with multiple sightings of Redstarts and Spotted Flycatchers and also this Green Woodpecker feeding in the field behind the hide.

Green Woodpecker

Green Woodpecker

The Spotted Flycatchers and Redstarts all seemed to favour the barbed wire and fencing for perching up. It's probably convenient for them but it tends to spoil the pictures.

Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher


I had a look at the North Wall but with the recent heavy rain the Breech Pool was again overfull and there were no waders there. I caught glimpses of a single Spotted Flycatcher and a Wheatear but could not get pictures of either. Fortunately the Swallows were obliging even if they were favouring the barbed wire again.


The following pictures were taken in a brief very wet stopover in Norfolk earlier in the week. The trip was more memorable for the birds I missed than for those I saw. In particular I had Booted Warbler, Icterine Warbler and Wryneck reported on Gramborough Hill just one mile from where I was staying.

Gramborough Hill - Not a big area to search for three rarities

It was getting dark and raining heavily when we arrived but I was up early and on site before 0600 the next morning. Unfortunately the rain had cleared in the night and the birds had flown. The best I managed was this distant Garden Warbler.

Garden Warbler

Other pictures taken included this Little Stint enjoying the rain, a couple of Pied Flycatchers and a few of the regulars.

Little Stint

Meadow Pipit

Pied Flycatcher


It had been a disappointing week but one good bird like the Wryneck makes all the difference. Bring on the rest of the migration

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Pectoral Sandpiper

The weather was best in the west today so we headed for Pagham Harbour with the first stop being the North Wall. It was great to see the Breech Pool back to normal with a good mix of water and mud and with plenty of birds in evidence. I am surprised that it has recovered so quickly given the repeated drying out and flooding it received during the early part of the year.

With shallows and mud available many of the waders have returned along with the wildfowl, a few geese and various warblers in the reed beds. The insects are also thriving and there was a mixed flock of Hirundines hawking over the pools.

The birds were there but the weather did not deliver. It was overcast all morning. There were some great birds on show but the resulting photographs are poor.

Godwits, Redshanks and Greenshanks in White's Creek

We were told to look out for a Little Stint and when a suitable small bird turned up we were happily clicking away. It was only later that we realised that it was a Pectoral Sandpiper, but that is the beauty of getting a photograph, you can always check it out when you get home.

Pectoral Sandpiper

The Sandpiper was joined by a juvenile Ruff and we would have had some excellent pictures but without the light you cannot get the colours and detail into the pictures and they end up looking flat.

Pectoral Sandpiper(front) and Ruff (rear)


We did check out other areas around the harbour but it all seemed very quiet. The following are all pictures taken in the North Wall area

Black-tailed Godwit

Reed Warbler

Whitethroat - taken during a brief improvement in the light conditions

The Pectoral Sandpiper was a great bird to see, even if we had difficulty identifying it, but overall the day was a bit disappointing. I like to spend the evening sorting out my shots and producing the blog. Tonight I spent my time trying to rescue a few record shots from amongst all the pictures taken today.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Red-backed Shrike

I was just arriving at Seaford when an alert came up for a Red-backed Shrike on the Cuckmere, just south of the Visitors Centre. It was only a few minutes away and too good a chance to miss, although it sounded as though it was on the main route down to the beach, so would soon be busy with day trippers.

I arrived at the car park and hurried down the track but it was just as I feared. I could see three or four people with their scopes and cameras pointed at a tree and even at a distance could see the bird perched out on the top. Sounds promising, but there was also a family, complete with a couple of dogs and kids kicking footballs, just about to walk between the observers and the bird - and they did. Inconsiderate or what? The bird was flushed from a perch giving clear views and with good light to a barbed wire fence where it was part concealed by the long grass.

I took a few record shots that I knew would be poor but then the bird flew off and it looked as though I had missed the chance. I searched for about an hour but then gave up and was walking back to the car when there it was, sitting in the original tree and this time completely ignoring all the people walking past. Better still it was a male in full colour plumage.

Red-backed Shrike

We soon had a mini twitch with about ten birders and various members of the public stopping to ask what was going on. A few were genuinely interested but most seemed to be more keen on taking pictures of the twitchers than of the bird.

Breast pinkish or light brown tinge dependant on lighting

Crown blue grey and back reddish brown

Fortunately things soon died down and most of the birders moved off, happy that they had their year ticks. We were left with just four bird photographers, happy to have seen the bird but unhappy, as they always are, knowing that there is a better photograph than the one they have just taken.

In hunting mode

I called in at Steyning on the way back to have a look for Brown Hairstreaks but I had left it a bit late in the day. There were a few of the more common butterflies flying but the Brown Hairstreaks were nowhere to be seen.

Common Blue - nice butterfly but the wrong colour

I am not sure who found the Shrike but my thanks for passing on the information. It was a great bird to see and to photograph.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Brown Hawker

There was not much doing on the birding scene today so we went to have a look for Brown Hairstreaks at Tillets Lane Fields. There were lots of the usual browns about and a good number of Purple Hairstreaks that were staying up in the trees, but no sign of the Brown Hairstreaks. Tillets Lane Fields themselves were looking a little overgrown and unloved, except by the dog walkers that is.

Looking for an Essex Skipper but this one is a Small

Slightly faded female Silver-washed Fritillary

With nothing very exciting on show at Tillets Fields we decided to look in at New Bridge near Billingshurst, a new site for us.  It looks promising, we saw Banded Demoiselles, Brown Hawkers, Darters, and a Migrant Hawker.

Banded Demoiselle

There were a few Brown Hawkers about and for once they were landing although only for a few seconds at a time.

Slightly out of focus Brown Hawker

and below the same Brown Hawker with a female but they flew before I could get a clear shot.

Brown Hawkers

We saw the Dragonfly below up in a tree. It was too small to be a Southern or Common Hawker which only really leaves a Migrant Hawker but I would really have liked a clearer picture of it.

Migrant Hawker

Next stop was Lords Piece. Dave had picked up an Emerald Damselfly there a couple of days ago but we could not find any sign of them today.

I spent a long time trying to get a decent picture of the Black-tailed Skimmers but, as is their way, they were all putting down on the mud where it was hard to get a clear shot of them.

Black-tailed Skimmer

There were still a good number of Broad-bodied Chasers about and some of them were still in good condition.

Broad-bodied Chasers

Broad-bodied Chaser

and this pair of Common Darters seemed oblivious of the camera gradually getting closer.

Common Darters

Common Darters

Common Darter

I was hoping that one of these would be a Ruddy Darter but they all show the yellow stripes on the leg which are diagnostic of the Common.

Common Darter

An interesting day out and a couple of decent pictures but in general the numbers all seem to be a bit down this year. Even the decent birds that are about seem to be boycotting Sussex.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Clouded Yellow

Bit of a disappointing day today. The weather didn't look promising but we thought we would try a few of the local sites looking for Dragonflies and Butterflies. First stop was Black Pool at Pulborough Brooks. Not a good place to start as it had all but dried out and there were no signs of life around it. All the water levels across the Pulborough site seemed low and we only saw two dragonflies all morning, a Brown Hawker and a Southern Hawker. Neither stayed around to have their pictures taken.

Pulborough also seemed to be almost devoid of birds. I did have a look from Netley's and could see a couple of very distant Sandpipers. I would like to have got a confirmed sighting of the Wood Sandpiper but to me they looked like two Commons and one Green.

Picture taking was confined to one brief spell of sunshine in the meadow area above Netley's. We were hoping for a Brown Hairstreak but could not see any movement in the trees or bushes.

The first Clouded Yellow of the year got us off to a good start, even if it was a little on the tatty side.

After that it was really just the everyday butterflies. But at least it was something flying and the chance to take a few shots.

Gatekeepers were probably the most common butterfly.


and there were still a few fresh looking Small Heaths about

Small Heath

Ringlets and Meadow Browns had mostly gone over but there was a nice Small Copper, a few Green-veined Whites and a couple of Common Blues around.

Small Copper

Small Copper

Green-veined White

Common Blue

There were hundreds of the Common Grass Moth around so I thought I would take a shot of one for the record.

Common Grass Moth Agriphila straminella

and the always fascinating Scorpion Fly

Scorpion Fly

We had about an hour of sunshine before the clouds came over, then time to walk back to the car before the rain started. Despite what the forecasts had promised there seemed little chance of it clearing as we went into the afternoon so in the end we packed up and headed for home.