Last Friday a Squacco Heron was reported at Pagham North Wall. Having previously dipped two opportunities to see one along the south coast I was keen to have a look but with no further sightings on the Friday it looked as though it had moved on. In some ways I hoped it had. I had commitments over the weekend and would not be able to get out to see it.
Sure enough, Saturday morning it was refound and reports of sightings appeared for the rest of the day. Would it stay? The 2015 Cuckmere bird had gone within 24 hours of being reported leaving me on a fruitless search at dawn the next morning.
Six o'clock on Sunday evening and I finally made it to the viewing area just by Halsey's Farm. No sign there but I did at least manage to get a few seconds glimpse of it through reeds on the other side of the farm Not a very satisfactory view but it still counted as my first UK Squacco.
Monday morning and we were back at the farm and after a couple of hours wait it flew in and started to feed.
It's not an easy bird to photograph in flight. Collins refers to an explosion of white on take off. The eye compensates but the camera has difficulty coping with the contrast.
Once on the ground you have the opposite problem. It blends into the background and the camera has difficulty in pulling focus. Solution, take lots of frames and just hope you get a few good ones.
It was only a small twitch but you have to respect other people's right to see the bird. That inevitably means that you are too far away to get the picture that you really want. I was happy though, I had my record shots and the perfect picture could wait until the next time I was in Spain.
I have had something of a quiet summer birding wise. A focus on Orchids and a seeming lack of migrating birds late spring and early summer has left me some thirty to forty birds behind my usual totals for this time of year. Sussex can be really dead through the summer but today you just got the feeling that things were starting to liven up again.
|Wood Sandpiper with Common Sandpiper in foreground|
Wood Sandpiper on the Ferry Pool at Pagham and Common Sandpiper, below, in the Ferry Channel.
It will be interesting to see if I can make up the numbers during the autumn migration but I fear that a few will have already gone.