Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Red-necked Grebe

Wednesday and a promising start to the day with the mist clearing and the sun starting to break through. First stop was Warblington just over the border into Hampshire. The fields around the church are becoming a reliable area for Cattle Egrets. Only one so far this year but there were eight here at one point last year and also birds present for a couple of years before that.

Find the cattle and you can usually find the Cattle Egret. This time in the field just west of the cemetery at the end of Church Lane. There is a Little Egret roost close by and this morning five of them had joined in with feeding on the insects disturbed by the cattle.

Next stop was Church Norton to look for the reported Red-necked Grebe. This is a bird that I had seen a few times before but it had always been distant and my only record shots were poor. We were fortunate in meeting Andrew House when we arrived but the update he provided was mixed - Still there but distant. 

A walk along the spit and we realised we were in luck. The Red-necked was being aggressively pursued by a Great Crested Grebe and it was bringing it in closer to the shore.

It was not clear why this bird was behaving so aggressively, possibly protecting some food source, later we saw the Red-necked happily feeding alongside another Great Crested without any problems.

Fortunately things eventually quietened down and we managed to get a couple of reasonable shots.

There was not much to look at on the North Wall other than an idiot in a light plane (G-MZPJ) making a number of low passes across the harbour and seemingly intent on disturbing all the birds. Possibly practising forced landings but if so a poor choice of locations and lucky not to be involved with any bird strikes.

With little else of interest at the North Wall we headed off to the Burgh in the hope of seeing a few raptors and downland birds. Again nothing much showing. A distant Buzzard, Corn Bunting and Grey Partridge but no sight of the Red Kites and no Fieldfares or Redwings in the usual fields below Burpham Church.

Still, a good day out and a few shots of the Red-necked Grebe that are better than anything I had before.

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