Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Short-eared Owl

It would have been nice if a few of the rarities reported around the country over the past couple of months had spent a few days in Sussex. It would have been even nicer if we had seen some decent weather. Birding you can do when its raining, bird photography needs good light. I think I have managed five blogs in the past two months and it has been a struggle to come up with any material for those. Fortunately Monday was a good day, weather wise, and Dave and I set off to pursue some decent pictures.

We headed east along the coast but it was a slow start to the day. There was nothing worth photographing at Widewater and nothing out on the sea. We found one Purple Sandpiper at Shoreham Fort but it only gave fleeting views and a single Rock Pipit on the harbour wall.

The Great Northern Diver did not show at Shoreham Port. A great pity, as with some of its summer plumage still showing it would have taken a good picture. I had seen it over the weekend but that was in pouring rain and near zero visibility.

Our next stop could have been Brighton Marina but with a Red-throated Diver reported at Newhaven Marina we decided to give it a miss. Bad mistake, there was a long-eared Owl sitting out in the Marina giving great views. Worse still the Red-throated Diver had moved on and apart from a few Herring and Black-headed Gulls there was nothing in Newhaven Harbour.

The first decent weather for photography in a long time and we couldn't find any birds. Fortunately Tide Mills came to the rescue. There were two Short-eared Owls quartering the fields and scrub area at the back of the beach. I think food must be in short supply for them to be out hunting at eleven o'clock in the morning. They were easy to spot as the crows were up mobbing them for most of the time that we watched.

Short-eared Owl

We walked out to the Harbour arm to have a look for the Purple Sandpipers but, having been delayed by the owl, the tide was receding and we were a bit late for the best views. All I could manage was this shot down on to one bird feeding in the gloom around the legs of the pier.

Purple Sandpiper

A Guillemot swimming and preening just off the beach was a bit unusual


and there was the ever present Stonechat.


Nothing unusual found on the day but it was nice to be out taking pictures again. We went out again this morning, this time to Southsea Castle looking for Purple Sandpipers. This time the tide was too high and there were none about.

We only had about an hour before the light disappeared and the rain returned. I spent most of that time trying to get a picture of Chiffchaffs that were feeding in the garden next to the castle. No luck with that but I did pick up another Rock Pipit and a couple of the usual suspects.

Rock Pipit

House Sparrow

Pied Wagtail

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