Saturday, 29 December 2018

Mist and record shots...

The early clear conditions turned to fog rapidly near the 'eagle layby' on the A31  but did eventually dissipate. An unringed GWE was on Ivy Lake and there was a notable increase in Siskins and Reed Buntings around the feeders but no Redpolls nor Bramblings yet. Also a flyover Green Sandpiper

At Tern Hide a single Water Pipit, about 10 Goosanders (although the roost count was 78), the same 1w Caspian Gull as recently on the west islands, 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls plus the usual fare. A Short-eared Owl, unusual here and possibly the first since 2011 according to SW, was apparently perched briefly on the carpark noticeboard(!) before flying off and landing on the new island where it stayed hunkered down until I left.
(Plenty of gulls, with a GoBH roost count of 10,000, half B-hG, half L-bBG)

Back at Ivy North two Cettis, two Little Egrets, two (heard-only) Water Rails and the Bittern above. Finally this Roe Deer watched me cautiously from the sweeping meadow fenceline.

On the way back a brief view of a compact falcon over junction 5 looked more Merlin than Kestrel, but too brief a view to be sure.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Only 363 days to go...

A non-birding jaunt to Titchfield (after a 'chore run') in fine, still, rather millpond-like conditions. Mild temperatures and lightly overcast with sun trying to break through - every man and his dog out today, some with dogs(!!), cycling, jogging and trying to get rid of those Xmas calories.

Thanks to A.N.Other for a look through his scope at one of the Slav Grebes and pointers to the two redhead Goosanders feeding in shallows just east of the yact club. Later, watching the world go by with M, and a Red-throated Diver went east - I think others were seen earlier - plus a few Great-crested Grebes offshore, fifty or so Turnstones in the harbour and a Little Grebe.

Hopefully a 'proper outing' tomorrow.

Wednesday, 26 December 2018


Spinnaker Tower

Hot Walls

Xmas day in Still and West

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Rather more typical shot of Bittern above, distant Goldeneye, GWE and one of 75+ Linnet feeding in front of Tern Hide. KK (again!), this time with MK and plenty of talk about the eagle unsurprisingly. Andy and Sarah were in Ivy South. A glimpse of Water Pipit, single Green Sandpiper, the Black-necked Grebe and getting on for 60 Pintails. Returned across the forest checking Janesmoor (yesterday's Goosanders long gone) and a quick chat with roadside eagle twitchers near Milkham but no sightings. Interestingly, someone posted an 11:30 sighting at Picket Post but not until 20:30 on GBH, so its still in the area. No time for a walk here and with PFC at home it took a while to get  through the traffic.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Yesterday, just three Marsh Harriers at Titchfield, single drake Pintail and ten Snipe.

Today with M at QECP, a Firecrest singing just above the carpark, a couple of Redwings and a Sparrowhawk followed by a Grey Wagtail on, around and under the picnic tables. A Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Jay over the A3.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Views of south brooks from reception above.

A very late start whilst waiting in for news of the eagle but, with none forthcoming and rather better weather than initially forecast, it was off to Pulborough for the last time this year.

The walk to Westmead was eerily quiet with no wind noise, no people and pretty much no bird noise other than the explosive clattering of Wood Pigeons disturbed from Upperton's field. Pipe Pond was now well flooded gushing through the channel to Westmead; heavy rain coinciding with high tides near Xmas could see an overtopping of the Arun.

From the hide it was disappointing that the only waterbird in a now very full pond was a Little Grebe. Two Peregrines were perched up on adjacent fence posts and a cream-crown was quartering the river bank and later also perched on a post; the male harrier had been seen a little earlier.

Returning for an early lunch was fortuitous; 'engaging' with visitors kept me out just long enough to pick up the distant flight call of a Woodlark. It seemed as if it might go down as a 'heard-only' record when a flock of NINETEEN flew over, presumably heading to some better feeding areas maybe out in the agricultural land to the south. Certainly the largest flock I've ever seen.

Later, in rapidly greying conditions on the north brooks, about 500 godwit and enough disturbance to flush up four Ruff and three Dunlin. On the walk back some nice Green Woodpecker views perched on the Adder Alley fenceposts followed by an enforced stay in Westmead as a slow moving shower went over.

Caught up with PP for the first time in years which was nice (talk of ringed godwits and reminiscences of FRG days) and tried out the little Kowa 501 with the intention of a self-bought  Xmas pressie - but unfortunately it's no better than the old model I took to Oz 18 years ago and the zoom adjustment was ridiculously stiff. Very affordable but just not good enough.

P.S. The eagle was back at Picket Post briefly just prior to midday but vanished to the south-west.

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

A Robin is not just for Xmas... and shoulda' gone west!!

Song Thrush

At WWT Common Gulls peaked at 220+ although, with birds passing through, probably more. Two hours later they had all departed. Kingfishers were audible at many points with two chasing each other all over the site whilst 25 Snipe, all hunkered down, were presumably just a portion of what may be present. An early Cetti's was a nice poser, sparring for space with a Wren, and a very close Treecreeper was foraging in nooks and crannies adjacent to the Stag Beetle pile; five Red Kites were about it for raptors in deteriorating conditions.

Shame for Keith that today was an Infocus session here - had he been in Tern Hide at Blashford he could have been watching the White-tailed Eagle!! Will all those Gulls, Ducks and Cormorants persuade it to stay? Will Bob have access to a deer carcase?? Maybe worth a trip tomorrow!

Normal service resumed..


Marsh Harrier etc

BJ only

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Tracy's top tip..

Arrived at Blashford and was greeted immediately  by Tracy who told me that the Bittern was showing from Ivy North. I assumed it would have crept off into the reeds but, lo and behold, it was still showing and carried on putting on a great performance just left of the hide, in company of Kingfisher, Water Rail and two calling Cetti's. Luckily, with just three birders (two off to see S'oton play later - a fine 3-2 win over Arsenal!!) and no other togs, there was plenty of opportunity to fire off a few shots of the Bittern and Water Rail. Sadly, the former caught a decent sized fish (a Rudd of Roach maybe) and swallowed it down hidden behind a block of reeds before stalking away to digest its brunch in peace).

A brief look from Tern Hide produced just singles of Goosander, Black-necked Grebe, Grey Wagtail and Green Sandpiper plus a nice flock of Linnets (50 or more). No sign of Water Pipits nor GWEs. Caught up with KK who was off to Millersford for a winter bird survey.

On the way home, into the second eastbound layby on the A31 where loads of cars and, two hundred yards away, all their owners! The White-tailed Eagle was not immediately on show so I returned for another layer of clothing and the tripod. On return it was being watched very distantly perched up high but eventually flew a couple of hundred yards east and re-alighted. With no hope of closer views the crowds drifted off and I followed suit as the next band of rain arrived. Hopefully, being 'fed' on deer carcase may keep this bird nearby and giving better views once the weather improves.

Finally, a Sparrowhawk dashed across the the M27 adjacent to J12.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Nil yesterday and not too much today with PHP carrying a patina of ice thick enough to support a fair few gulls. After lunch at QECP, possibly the last until the completion of the long-term refurb, a short walk produced a fair few Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Redwings feeding on two Apple Trees; rather better was a Marsh Tit feeding in the same tree, the first I've seen since two at Acres Down last January!!! Just finches, Gold and Chaff (about 25) around the scrub adjacent to the pond. After last night's catch-up,nice to see some of MM's Gos pictures in his article for SxBRC.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Driving in to Pulborough today,  I thought of checking for early Bewick's but decided not to; poor decision as later in the day four popped up at Amberley on the news services!! The weather was rather poor after yesterday being almost totally overcast; the temperature dropped noticeably about midday as the wind picked up. The first of three Marsh Harriers was a cream-crowned, perched on a fencepost followed later by another and a fine male with all three in the air together at one point. Also a post-perched Peregrine, a few Buzzards and three or more Red Kites.

Passerines were pretty thin with just 40+ Linnets, a couple each of Pied Wagtails, Stonechats and Reed Buntings. The only obvious winter thrushes were 10+ Fieldfare distantly flying in to heathland area.

Canada Geese were the most notable birds in terms of numbers but no sign of the White-fronted Goose although IC had a single with Greylags at Farlington today; just maybe the same bird.

The main prize today was the White-rumped Sandpiper which showed in the morning apparently in the same place as last weekend; after lunch it was probably 20 yards further right. Other people, with bigger and better scopes and sharper eyes, managed to see breast marking, crown markings, attenuated rear-end and those staying on got brief 'white-rumped' flight views. Views were even worse than last winter's Temminck's and that's saying something!!

Unsurprisingly, no photos. And a massive disappointment in the restaurant with NO mince pies😀

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

....and some more military hardware

This Chinook came down the valley so low as to be unseen until in front of Ramsar Hide flushing lots of gulls and wildfowl before heading back north.
This Kingfisher, one of two or three seen in various places, flew in and perched for me, Andy and Terry briefly and badly oscured by twigs; earlier it or another was perched up in front of the restaurant  just above two scrapping Little Egrets whilst a Grey Wagtail teetered along the concrete apron.

About ten or more Snipe on view at various places  but the recent reed cutting, two big bonfires and the Chinook ensured Scrape hide area was birdless.

A nice male Marsh Harrier (above) was beyond the river and later one or two Siskins were invisible flyovers.

Early on one Peregrine was present until the second bird (above) joined it. On leaving, with still, blue conditions six Buzzards, two kites, a Kestrel and one of Pegs were disputing air space. And finally a vocal Firecrest was point blank, albeit in deep shade and Ivy by the exit gate; a second calling bird lured it across Mill Road

Back for Xmas..

Despite not seeing White-rumped Sandpiper for 28 years and it being a Pulborough tick, it seemed fruitless to head over especially as others watched it almost totally inactive for hours yesterday. Maybe not a good sign but if it does survive maybe it will be available for Wednesday's duty day.

At Titchfield the sea was much calmer than of late and at a lower tide which made it easier to search for seaduck - only there weren't any,  just a single male Red-breasted Merganser. A Great Northern Diver, which I've managed to avoid here so far, was just off Rainbow Bar where the rising tide was squeezing 80 or more small waders (an even split between Ringed Plover and Sanderling plus the odd Dunlin). Two Grey Plovers departed westwards and the rest decamped to the sailing club beach.

A walk along the canal path was only just possible in trainers (note to self: buy some wellies!). One or possibly two Firecrests were calling plus the odd Cettis. Caught up with DW and IC and walked further north until the path became impassable with two squealing Water Rails, a hunkered down Snipe and a close male Stonechat. Two, possibly three, Water Pipits along with ten or so M'ipits were in a field with cattle, being disturbed by one of the heifers before disappearing in the long grass. Returning along the path found IC/DW watching two more in the wet field near Hammond's Bridge.

No time for the reserve today so a quick lunch and back in to Pompey, parking up on the seafront to see HMS Queen Elizabeth being guided back in to port.  A Shag was very close inshore and, despite the crowds of people and a high tide, seven Purple Sandpipers were roosting quite close although frequently disturbed by waves round their feet. Having watched these birds here for over 50 years I do wonder just how many individual birds I've seen and what sort of lifespan they may have.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Very windy Hill Head..

Another warm day but battered by a strong onshore wind which shook the scope and tripod too much to be of use; two nicely obvious drake Eiders flew west and earlier DH had a Great Northern Diver flying east.
Two Marsh Harriers including good scope views of the male which twice dived at two different post-perching Buzzards, a single drake Pintail, thirty or so Golden Plovers and maybe ten Snipe. Brief highlight was a flight view of a Bittern, my first this winter here (or indeed anywhere), dropping in to 11 Acres. Apparently the Water Pipits were still on the flooded area half wayup the canal path.
No photos today.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Another grey, dismal day but unseasonally warm and little breeze. Three Mistle Thrushes with one singing strongly and living up to its Stormcock name. Single Great Spotted Woodpecker overflying, probably four Nuthatches and yet again great views of Treecreeper just a few yards from the car. The area adjacent to the holly clump was being 'brush cut' so little here.

Just these fungi growing on dead wood.

A brief look off Broadmarsh boat ramp with just binoculars on a high tide produced Wigeon and Little Grebes, a few distant packs of mergs and a couple of Pied Wagtails skittering around the carpark.