Monday, 28 January 2019


Although birding has its share of surprises you find yourself repeating some activities every year and you know exactly how it is going to pan out. End of January and it's time to head over to Petworth Park to look for the Goosanders.

I love to see them but it is always a frustrating trip. There is very little cover around the lake and Goosanders tend to be very wary, staying well away from people. Poke your head up to take a picture and all you get is the backend as they disappear across the lake. Strangely dog walkers can be quite useful here. They can be a bit annoying when they wander over to ask you what you are looking for but one walking round the far side of the lake can often flush the birds towards you.

It is always difficult to get decent pictures of the Goosanders. On the male, the contrast between the black and white plumage is difficult for the camera to deal with and the green gloss on the head is only visible in good light. The red head females are easier but on this occasion the two I saw both stayed close to the island in heavy cover, only venturing out to chase the males away. So true to form I came away with the usual record shots and I still don't have a decent picture of a male Goosander.

Today was a real mixture of ups and downs. An early morning and then late afternoon visit to Pulborough Brooks to see the White-fronted Geese was looking like a waste of time. No White fronts, very little else other than half a dozen female Bullfinches a few Black-tailed Godwits and a distant Jay. Then as I was leaving just after sunset a couple of flyover Woodcock. My thanks to Matt for advice on the best place to stand to see them.

As well as Petworth, I also managed to fit in a trip to Warnham Nature reserve and spent an hour watching an assortment of small birds around the feeders at the Woodpecker hide. The two I was after were Siskin and Marsh Tit but preferably with them giving picture opportunities away from the feeders. The Siskin was obliging, the Marsh Tit less so.


Marsh Tit

There were a good selection of other birds present, Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tits, Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Nuthatches, Sparrows, Reed Buntings, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Blackbirds, Magpie, Wren, Pheasants, Mallards and with that selection always the chance of a Sparrow Hawk through. That's just the count from the Woodpecker hide. It's probably a good place to drop into if you still have a bird race to do. The only downside is that there haven't been any Redpoll on the feeders for a few years.

Long-tailed Tit

Song Thrush


There were plenty of ducks around today but, with the exception of the Brents, there seems to be a shortage of Geese and Waders. I am not sure if I want a cold snap to get there numbers up and to drive the Waxwings down into Sussex or if I would prefer a mild February to increase the number of small birds and to give the Dartford Warblers another successful year.

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