Thursday, 10 August 2017


I haven't been out birding much this past couple of months. A combination of a lot of wet weather,  a lack of any really inspiring birds in the Sussex area, and an unwillingness to get involved in any long distant twitches.

We did pay a visit to Cliffe Pools to see the Marsh Sandpiper and we did see it but it was very distant. I managed to get a picture although it is not one that I would care to put up on the blog. Frustrating really, it now moves on to my hit list, of nine birds, that I have seen but for which I did not manage to get a decent picture. Although I have to say that is a very subjective view. On a bad day I look at my pictures and think they could all do with improvement.

So today was a fresh start, the first days birding of the rest of my life. You just felt that Autumn was in the air and the migrants were on their way. Sad to say we failed to connect with them but there were a few fledglings around that will soon be migrating in the opposite direction.

The area around the sluice at Pagham North Wall is always a good spot to find baby Swallows at this time of year. Today there were probably three families in the area with about ten hungry mouths waiting to be fed.

Amazing to think that they are just a few weeks out of the egg and in a couple more weeks they will be on their way to Africa.

There were also a good number of Sedge Warbler fledglings in the reeds waiting to be fed.

They were probably just a little bit to eager, climbing to the top of the reeds and calling loudly for their parents. Good for me taking pictures but they are making themselves a bit of a target.

No Sparrowhawks about but there were a pair of Peregrines hunting across the area. These are probably the ground nesting ones from the island in the harbour. I doubt the Chichester Cathedral pair are welcome in the area any more.

Below are a few odd pictures taken earlier in the year. There weren't enough for a blog at the time but they are still worth recording.

The first a Black-tailed Godwit in Summer Plumage, again from the North Wall Pagham.

Ring-necked Parakeets taken at Kew Gardens from the high level walkway. So common in London but still a rarity just fifty miles south.

And two from a quick stop at Fairburn Ings on the way north. I had hoped to see Willow Tits. They were there but not showing in the short time I had. Consolation was from good views of nesting Sand Martins and a few Tree Sparrows.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Silver-spotted Skipper

Dave had just got back from his latest butterflying holiday but with nothing interesting to look at on the local birding front, it was butterflies for him again today. We went to see if the Silver-spotted Skippers were out yet on Newtimber Hill.

I can't see that Dave could have been too exited by the idea. He had just logged 120+ butterflies in a week including close on 50 life ticks and probably had thousands of photographs to sort through. A few more shots of the Silver-spotted Skipper would seem like a very low priority.

To make matters worse they were not easy to find. Cloud cover and a cool wind when we arrived meant that there was not much flying beyond the usual Meadow Browns. However, as it warmed up a few began to appear, although we were probably a week early and they were not in the numbers we had seen in previous years.

They tend to stay low down in the grass so can be difficult to photograph but at least they do show the underside of their wings, the bit you want in your photograph, a lot more than the other small skippers.

By the time we left the hill it was very hot and humid. An early warning of the huge lightning storms to come that night. There were a few more butterflies around but still not in the numbers that I would expect.

No Chalkhill Blues about but there were a few Common Blues flying.

Common Blue

We called in at Pulborough Brooks for a quick look at the Dragonflies in the afternoon. There were plenty flying but nothing unusual.

Azure Blue Damselfly

Black Darter

Emerald Damselfly

Roll on the cool winter days and the return of the waders.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Butterflies and Dragons

Actually, the day was all about getting a picture of a Brown Hawker Dragonfly. I saw a lot of them at Houghton Wood and spent a long time chasing them down, but I couldn't find one grounded and I just couldn't pull focus fast enough to get one in flight. Still it was a good day for "the others", the Butterflies and Dragonflies that don't tend to get mentioned when everything works out and get your main target.

I staked out a nice fresh dog turd on one of the rides, hoping to get a Purple Emperor or White Admiral. The plan worked but unfortunately the butterfly that came along was only a Comma.


Further down the track and another fresh pile from an obliging horse rider, Commas, Red Admirals and a Holly Blue but no Emperor. To be clear, that is a fresh pile from the horse not the rider.

Holly Blue

There were plenty of Silver-washed Fritillaries flying but it was a bit early in the day to find them nectering. It was only the older and slightly worn specimens that were favouring feeding instead of flirting.

Silver-washed Fritillary

But it was nice to see a fresh Brimstone stopping to nectar even if only briefly.


Next stop was Pulborough Brooks for the Dragonflies. Loads of Emerald Damselflies on the wing but unfortunately no Scarce Emeralds amongst them.

Emerald Damselfly

Plenty of Blue Damselflies


Azure Blue

Azure Blue

The usual Four-spotted and Broad-bodied Chasers and a few fresh Darters.

Four-spotted Chaser

Broad-bodied Chaser

Black Darter

Ruddy Darter

Ruddy Dater

Looks like a female Common Darter

Female Emperor oviposting

and one last butterfly

Common Blue

I didn't manage to see anything unusual but it was actually a great day out with lots to photograph.

Sussex seems to be going through it usual summer doldrums. Good birds are being reported all around the country but they all seem to avoid coming our way.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Thursley Dragons

Tuesday was a trip out to Thursley Common to top up the Dragonfly list for the year. It was hot and sunny as we left the south coast but by the time we got to Thursley it had clouded over and there was a cool breeze getting up.

We did make a quick stop over on the way to try and get Dave a Sussex Common Clubtail but we could not find any. Having first seen them just two weeks ago this suggests that the mating period when they are to be found by the river is only a couple of weeks long.

Thursley may have been cooler than we had expected but there were still a lot of Dragons and Damsels to be seen. In particular the wooden boardwalk had warmed up early and a lot of the Dragonflies were using it as a place to  bask and absorb the heat.

The pond was a bit of a disappointment though, with nothing flying around the edges. So no sign of the Downy and Brilliant Emeralds that we had been hoping to see.

First target was the Black Darter. There were a lot of newly emerged specimens to be found in the grass and reeds and a few more mature examples out on the board walk.

Black Darter - freshly emerged male

Black Darter

Black Darter

Black-tailed Skimmer

Black-tailed Skimmer

Common Blue Damselfly

Emerald Damselfly

Emerald Damselfly

Probably an immature Emerald Damselfly

Rather tatty Emperor

Female Emperor oviposting

Keeled Skimmer

Keeled Skimmer

Small Red Damselfly

And a couple of Butterflies. Nice to find a Painted Lady in good condition.

Painted Lady

Painted Lady

Small Tortoiseshell