Friday, 25 November 2016

Long-tailed Duck

Friday and great weather for taking pictures but where to go, Amberley Wildbrooks for the Swan Geese (escapees) or West Rise Marsh for the Slavonian Grebe, Long-tailed Duck and an outside chance of a Richard's Pipit. In the end I settled for West Rise Marsh.

The Slavonian Grebe was easy to find. Scan the lake until you see a couple of birders, walk round to where they are standing and the bird was happily feeding just a few metres away. It was nice to have a subject that does not swim or fly away as soon as you appear but I was still not happy, too much wind and reeds blowing across the picture every time I pressed the shutter button.

Slavonian Grebe

The Long-tailed Duck was a bit harder to find. I knew where to look but for a long time I could not locate it. It seems to spend most of its time under water, only surfacing for a few seconds at a time. I did eventually get a few shots although most were of its rear end as it disappeared under the water yet again.

Juvenile Long-tailed Duck


I spent about an hour looking for the Richard's Pipit but the marsh is a big area and with no starting point it was a bit of a lost cause. This is a bird that tends to stay on the ground running through the long grass and disappearing into dips and gullies. It may still be there but I couldn't find it.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Dartford Warbler

I went looking for a Merlin today. It's one of those birds that I have never really seen and for which I have certainly never managed to get a decent record shot. There had been one reported on the west side of Medmerry and with a Dartford Warbler also reported at Park Farm it seemed worth a trip out.

Park Farm proved to be a nice walk but there was no sign of the Dartford so it was on to Medmerry. Initially it looked promising. A bird flew through, low and fast with crows in hot pursuit. It looked a good possibility, so I set off on a slightly slower pursuit. The crows turned back and the bird disappeared from sight. Then I picked up something sitting on a post. A careful approach and I had it - except that it turned out to be a Kestrel. A different bird or the one chased by the crows? I will never know.


It wasn't all bad news though, a little further along the track I found another Dartford Warbler. As is their way, it stayed mostly low in the gorse, just occasionally appearing for a few seconds out in the open. It was a case of point, shoot and hope for the best, but after about half an hour of trying I did eventually get a shot that was in focus.

There were plenty of ducks on the Stilt Pond but very little else. Distant flocks of Brents, Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Linnets, Goldfinches but nothing to get exited about. The weather had been threatening all day and the light was poor so I decided to head for home.

On the way back to the car a couple of unusual geese attracted my attention. Two Bar-headed Geese in with a small flock of twenty two Canada Geese. It was interesting to see that these were fully integrated into the flock. The one below being on point duty whilst the rest of the flock were feeding.

So another day of meagre returns. West Sussex still seems a bit slow when compared with the rest of the country.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Black Redstart

South Africa has spoilt me. It hardly seems worth going birding unless I am going to get ten life ticks a day and get good pictures of them all. There also seems to have been a dearth of good birds around Sussex of late. Elsewhere in the country there are reports of Alpine Accentors, a Pelican, and along the east coast a raft of rarities but nothing in my area. It all seems very flat.

To be fair, things do seem to be picking up, Long-tailed Ducks, Grebes, and Goosanders are starting to appear along the coast, and although I have yet to see any of them, the enthusiasm is begining to return.

A couple of trips out this last week gave me a lot of birds but nothing really unusual. There were two Black Redstarts on Pagham Church roof .....

Black Redstart

and a walk around Pagham Lagoon gave me a Golden Eye and a couple of  Pintails. The later I am told are unusual for the Lagoon.



An hour or so on the North Wall finally gave me decent views of the Bearded Tits that had been reported there but I could not get any pictures of them. That also meant that by the time I got round to Church Norton the tide was way out and the light was starting to go. I skipped the walk down to the beach and settles for this Whimbrel in the harbour.


The good news is that the Waxwings seem to be moving southwards.