Thursday, 29 November 2018

Not so bad after all...

Wood Pigeon feasting on guelder rose

Digiscoped Snipe

Greylag digiscoped

Low, winter light over castle

Today was forecast to be poor, and setting off in light drizzle seemed to be slightly foolish! However, Arundel provides opportunities for birding in the dry being such a small site with evenly placed hides and comfy viewing from the restaurant. Luckily, Offham Hanger provided a good windbreak from the strong south-westerly and the rain stopped on arrival and only restarted just after getting home.

A Little Grebe was very close in from the restaurant and the ducks included three Pochards. Snipe were clearly abundant with PS saying he'd flushed 20 or so from Arun Riverlife; elsewhere I only saw about 10 but the reed bed was being strimmed so that area seemed devoid of birds. The one here was snapped through the Swaro with the new smartphone, as was the sleepy Greylag - not ideal photos but good enough for record shots handheld to the eyepiece.

Small birds other than Goldfinches on feeders were noticeably absent although 20 Redwing overhead and about 60 Fieldfares flushed by raptors over the river were nice to see and hear and later two Ravens flew off towards Burpham.

A few kites were active but distant, this one attracting the attentions of a  Peregrine (maybe defending a kill?) which eventually flew up into its usual lookout on the hanger. Just one Kingfisher sighting, perched up but off in a flash when it saw me, and a few calls from beyond the fenceline.

People-wise, very quiet which made a change; quick catch up with PS and SH who was delighted with the arrival of a couple of  Red-breasted Mergansers in the collection.

Lastly a brief look down river from the Black Rabbit at 3 p.m. produced zero, being a little too early for roosting harriers; apparently now up to eleven birds coming in.

P.S. Info on the Hill Head colour-ringed Sanderlings came back from AdP (via Pete). All three ringed on Hayling with one being 2013 and the other two 2017. Various local sightings in between those dates and now with the older bird appearing in late July; an early return or did it not return to breeding grounds this year??

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Distant, murky  male Marsh Harrier

Some of the 85 Golden Plover

Ringed Plover


With impossible (?) birding weather forecast for the next few days a brief window of opportunity today lead to a brief trip over to Titchfield where the sea was too rough and rain too heavy to try scoping for seaduck etc; DW reported the Velvet Scoter from Brownwich.

On the beach 50-60 small waders included two of the colour-flagged Sanderlings. From Meon Shore the male Marsh Harrier, which I missed on last visit, was the first bird to be seen being harassed by crows. About 85 Golden Plovers were nice to see and the most since this time last year; a single Ruff had reappeared in with Teal and Redshank but sadly a brief Jack Snipe seen by RC at 11:00 must have been whilst I was on the east side!!

Two drake Pintails and a brief view and 'pinging' of Bearded Tits was about it before the weather deteriorated.

Sadly, the absence of the recent Snow Bunting was down to its expiring yesterday!!

Monday, 26 November 2018

Duck Day afternoons, veganism and a big bird.

Drake Pochard

Female Goldeneye

'The Romans sacrificed a brown duck at the beginning of the Duck Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the cold, windy weather. In modern times, the term refers to those chill, shivery afternoons when ducks (and bird photographers) prefer to lay around and languish in front of, or inside a hide respectively'.

After input from my many readers (well  THE one - and you know who you are😁😁) no more abbreviated sites names; so today was spent solely at Blashford Lakes HIWWT and mostly in Tern Hide where the northerly breeze ensured a chilly spell with windows open and ensured most of the gulls were keeping to the far north east portion of the lake and generally tail-on.

This Snipe was again in close to the hide roosting before slinking down to the more sheltered water's edge adjacent to the dumped 'brash' where it hunkered down with a second bird. A Water Pipit was heard, the Black-necked Grebe was almost as far away as possible and a single Marsh Harrier soared over southwards. Sadly, this Goldeneye failed to come in as close as the Pochards and Little Grebes and the males certainly kept their distance. A Green Sandpiper, otherwise invisible, was handily flushed into view by a Blackbird of all things!!

South side was very quiet, dark as the Black Hole of Calcutta in the Woodland Hide and with just this late, but still rather fresh, Comma in the carpark.

Finally, this military chopper flushed a few of the 150 Lapwing and a Dunlin and the garage produced another vegan delight following on from last month's Avo-lafel!!

Nice to chat to and swap stories with Bruce, Maurice and others in the slacker periods.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

A couple of good unseasonal November records today at Titchfield with this Jersey Tiger and a Hawfinch!!

Back in the real world the female Common Scoter was diving just off the beach carpark quite close in and 100+ Lapwings were spooked off the scrapes.
The area of beach favoured by the Snow Bunting was awash with emmets.
Later at Petersfield briefly, a flyover Grey Wagtail and a heard-only Firecrest and little on the pond; a decent gull wouldn't go amiss here.

Friday, 23 November 2018


Surprised to see a large Bombus terrestris on  the Mahonia and Osteospermum in the garden this morning and later another in Southsea.
After shopping, a less-than-optimal-tide visit to the castle failed to find any Purple Sandpipers and in a very choppy sea none seemed to be roosting on Castle buoy. Two Shags were offshore, a Red-throated Diver flew east and Rock Pipit and three Pied Wags were about the castle and shore; a Grey Wagtail flew over. A 17 gun salute was fired by the inbound D34, HMS Diamond on return to port just as I arrived.

Let it Snow, let it Snow...

An earlyish look off  Hill Head for yesterday's better birds started well with finding a cracking drake Long-tailed Duck from the chalets, the best I've seen in years. Scanning around picked up an inbound passerine which dropped onto the beach next to me and immediately vanished - this Snow Bunting. Later, others reported a presumed second bird east of the Osborne View. This one moved barely a few yards along the beach all day despite all the dog walkers, and was just as unperturbed by people as the bird two winters ago on the yacht club beach.

Just one c/c Marsh Harrier over the reserve although MF had a male, the first in a while, which failed to show itself in two brief stints in Meon Shore and Meadow Hides; in fact the reserve was generally quiet today.

From the restaurant over lunch a Red-throated Diver flew in, landed on the sea but quickly departed westwards, looking over its shoulder in that characteristic fashion, followed by what was probably another more distant bird.

With the tide dropping, and extra pairs of eyes, the other waterbirds became easier to locate with IC pointing out a Slav Grebe very close to the Long-tailed Duck and MFs sharp eyes finding Great Northern Diver, Common Scoter and a late Sandwich Tern. The beach held about 25 Sanderlings including the colour flagged bird and similar numbers of Ringed Plover plus a single Curlew.

Finally during one last stint of Snow Bunting photography IC kindly shouted out two fine Eider drakes which alighted a little to the east giving nice scope views.

Warmer colours in the late afternoon sun

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

On his/her lonesome..

Uneventful journey to PB with just a perched Kestrel and a Buzzard foolishly hovering over the central reservation. Very quiet to Westmead but from the hide the calling of a White-fronted Goose made it easy to pick up, followed by two Peregrines on the ground (a third apparently present) and a nice subadult male Marsh Harrier cruising the riverbank. The wildfowl were all flushed off by vehicle access. Just Common Darter and Noon-fly on the insect front and the first day of the autumn/winter with no butterflies.

A few Redwings, Fieldfares and Song Thrushes (25+) from the hanger, singles of Snipe, Dunlin, Raven and Treecreeper and eventually the WFG again. As the light slipped away a nice, pale Shorty arrived (typically escorted high by crows before descending to hunt) and gave great views from the bottom of Pig Run and even better for the 'togs on the riverbank, followed finally by a second Marsh Harrier.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Nice reminder...

The arrival in yesterday's post of the 2017 Hants Bird Report was as expected after posted notifications on HOSlist; and what a reminder of last winter's star bird with a cracking cover photo of 'Barry' the Titchfield Barred Warbler.

No birding today but a smart, low Red Kite at the Butser turn off and a Grey Wagtail looking for scraps on and under the picnic tables with a small mixed tit flock in the courtyard tree. One Kestrel outbound on a lampost and a second along the A3.

P.S. The arrival of a JBL Flip 3 bluetooth speaker today (spot on time; thank you AO and DFD, other retailers/ delivery services available!!) means I could always indulge in some seriously loud tape-luring😊😊

Sunday, 18 November 2018

It was this big honest... and here's proof!!

A pre-breakfast (coffee and toast only) look offshore from the chalets  failed to produce Amy's RNG from yesterday nor indeed anything other than Great-crests and Brent Geese. The strong light, wind and choppy seas didn't help.
Caught up with a variety of RSPB Pulborough staff and volunteers during the day including Trish, John, Mike and Gary all of whom seemed to have had a good day despite lack of anything unusual.

Two Marsh Harriers were present with one providing loads of action all day long, a cracking male Sparrowhawk (above) perched up giving great scope views and a few Beardies pinged and popped up for a fraction of a second; just too windy today. Best of the rest was a single Raven and five Pochards which kept circling unsure whether to land.

Finally, this heron had gulped down a massive Trout (? 2nd photo courtesy GaryT)  which was still in its throat as I entered the hide; it forced down this smaller fish (photo 1) immediately afterwards and then stood quietly digesting its huge meal.

Just Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Common Darter and Episyrphus balteatus (many).

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Mixed Bag..

Local 'tourist' Spit, Queen Elizabeth out of Southampton Water, the usual Fox going for a paddle, single Snipe in front of Meon Shore. Still a few Ivy Bees, hoverflies including Sericomyia silentis and Red Admirals on Ivy, Speckled Wood and Common Darter elsewhere.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

An early start  (for me!!) locally produced two Herons and a dozen or so Shovelers but a pair of Pochard was rather more surprising.

Time to kill prior to a first return to Worthing in three years meant spending a fair stint in Arundel mostly in company of Terry,  Andy and Richard. On arrival a very vocal Raven was above the carpark with the first of many Buzzards and later a Peregrine on its usual perch. One or two Marsh Harriers were about but not coming in to roost and earlier the staff had had a Cattle Egret on site which had moved out before I arrived.

Numerous Kingfisher calls and flash-bys with this bird above eventually perched up reasonably close but not too well lit; a single redhead Goosander went down river.

Absolutely masses of midge-type flies will hopefully provide food for the insectivores especially the several (4+) Chiffchaffs and three Grey Wagtails; on return for lunch quite a few day flying moths, presumably Novembers were outside the north entrance.

The last stint on site produced 25+ Redwings, a number of Reed Buntings.
and vocal but invisible Firecrests in the entrance scrub.

After closing I parked up at the Black Rabbit where the Chi RSPB group 'management team' had just had the Cattle Egret in to roost  (damn!! Terry and I must have moved ten minutes too soon. They'd also seen the Brookland's Pallas's well.). With light going, at least six each of Buzzard and Marsh Harrier (including one obvious petite male) drifted in towards the reedbed - there could have been more harriers. A Short-eared Owl was up high chased by a crow, ten Little Egrets flew in to roost to add to a couple of birds already on site and more Kingfishers, Water Rails and a Firecrest were calling but sadly no Barn Owls in rapidly fading light. Oh and a bit of a Pied Wag roost adjacent to the carpark (50 ish).
PS And a pub quiz win paid for half the day's petrol😊

Monday, 12 November 2018

Yesterday at Blashford, and between showers and rainbows, this Hornet was looking for a place to hunker down for the winter. Most notable feature today was the number of Pochard on Ivy Lake (85+) with another 35+ on Ibsley. Two Kingfishers zipped past and five Little Egrets chased each other around the various feeding points and tree roosts with one above settling on one of the Kingfisher perches; Cettis and Water Rail called and a Cattle Egret went northwards.

Over both lakes a low total of ten Goosanders and eight Goldeneye, two each of Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk whilst a single adult Yellow-legged Gull was in the roost early. No sight/sound of Water Pipit/s nor the earlier Marsh Harrier.

Today a quick outing produced a very low and gloriously lit Red Kite whilst driving up the Causeway and later, it or another was west of the town; single Tree Creeper in a tit flock and  Red Admiral flying over the lake.

A quick look off Broadmarsh in choppy conditions ensured that yesterday's better grebes and GNDs were not obviouss, just the two common grebes and a few mergansers and Goldeneyes.

Saturday, 10 November 2018


Yesterday was a non birding day of chores but a vocal Goldcrest in next door's apple tree was unusual and later, rather more than recently were with a couple of tit flocks at Heath Pond. Further east in Sussex,the Beachy area noted a good arrival so presumably the garden bird was new-in as well. Most/all Cormorants had abandoned the pond, the low water level still suited single Grey Heron and Little Egret but little else. One group of LOTTis were very confiding being just inches away. Plenty of BHGs were on the shore or in the shallows attracted by duck-feeders but, despite checking, no signs of any colour rings.

Today, still a few more Goldcrest than normal, two Marsh Harriers, 30+ Ringed Plovers, 20+ Sanderlings, about 450 Brent, 400+ Teal and 20 or so Fieldfares.
Another shot of WWT Goosander.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

I'd rather Jack(Snipe) than Fleetwood Mac!!

Quick 'spiz' round Heath Pond in the certainty that Tuesday's smart male Red-crested Pochard would have departed... and it had. No herons/egrets, no  non-Mallard related wildfowl and only two Cormorants. A single Buzzard over the cafe and about 30-40 Common Gulls was it.

At Farlington at least one of the recently reported Jack Snipes was being watched but still took a little while to get on to with so many birds hunkered down in that corner, including Common Snipes for confusion and a single Spot'shank for more interest; eventually the JS showed well, feeding, preening and bobbing up and down over an hour or two with the scope and was even identifiable from the attached photo, albeit a massive crop!! Thirty or so Avocets, upwards of 65 Pintails and the usual stuff on the lake and just one heard Water Rail. Sitting at the head of the lake on a dropping tide as waders and ducks stream overhead has been one of life's little joys for 51 years now!! Just on departure, the c/c Marsh Harrier appeared over the reeds.

NB 1 Probably no one will remember the one-hit-wonders that were the Reynolds Girls thirty years back with their only record with title (almost) as above!!
NB 2 Titchfield's ringed gull two days ago was ringed this year, unsurprisingly being a 1cy, four months back on the island of Griend, Netherlands having travelled just over 500km and not seen elsewhere. Griend is known for its Sandwich Tern colony, the largest in Western Europe and for adding a new animal to the Dutch list this year, a springtail. The joys of Wikipedia!!

Some of the Pintail

A couple of Wigeon

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Goosey, goosey goosander wither shall thee wander..

A pretty ropey day of squally showers with plenty of time 'trapped' in hides at both PB and WWT. At the former, an adult Peregrine was hanging into the strong wind terrorizing the inhabitants of the south brooks and prompting a Marsh Harrier and a Sparrowhawk to rise up circling and keep the Peg at arm's length; the Sprawk, a neat male put in a slow and close pass by the hide. The dampening of the Westmead pool was favoured by quite a few Lapwings, Starlings and Linnets. On the return, fifteen Fieldfares were chacking overhead and a few Goldrests were vocal.

Later at Arundel, it was nice to catch up with Trish for the first time this year and  then to watch the three redhead Goosanders cruising up and down, two Water Rails seen (with others heard) and several Snipe. A Kingfisher was heard only. Finally, over a cuppa in the 'comfy seats' two c/c Marsh Harriers were early arrivals although they didn't drop in to roost.

Another CR Black-head...

White EJ1Y

Virtually invisible Marsh Harrier

A grey start which rather surprisingly turned into a very nicely lit afternoon with a full tide for most of the visit. This ringed BHG was waiting for handouts from people feeding ducks and swans and luckily sat up on the groyne  long enough for this quick snap with the 'nifty fifty'. About 25+ Sanderlings and a handful of Ringed Plovers were roosting on the beach. East side birdless.

Long chat to Mark and a group of students from Reading whilst watching a Marsh Harrier continuously quartering and a lazier Buzzard which eventually dropped off a fence post and gulped down a rodent. The pinging Beardies were never going to show in breezy conditions but a Cetti's did briefly. Highlight were three Golden Plovers, the first I've seen here this winter although I think the fields near Warsash have had fifty or so.

Good to see a decent proportion of juveniles amongst the small numbers of Brent just offshore.