Wednesday, March 30, 2011
A male chiffchaff perched and sang in a bush right in front of us. Lovely! I manged to take a nice shot of him - definitely one of my best chiffchaff photos! Such beautiful little birds.
So the resident birdies at Pulborough (and the return of the first few warblers) made up for the earlier disappointment! Rarer migrants are special, of course and I'm still hoping to see wheatear, black redstart, whinchat etc. but I do love all of the 'common' birds that I can watch and get to know through the seasons. Not long now and the whitethroats (I LOVE whitethroats!) and nightingales will be back. Can't wait! :)
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Anyhow, when we arrived at Church Norton, the 'pigeon' perched in a tree turned out to be a male kestrel and I managed to get a few shots before it flew off.
The tide was coming in so there weren't many waders on the beach.
There was a chiffchaff hunting flies in the reeds (by the second Severals) and a Cetti's warbler was singing.
Chiffchaff with insect prey
Two chaffinches were fighting and a linnet was perched in a bush, preening. On the ground, I spotted my first peacock butterfly of the year.
We then moved on to Pagham Spit, again hoping to find wheatears. A skylark was singing above us and two ringed plovers were in front of the hide, along with some turnstones. Unfortunately, before we had even entered the hide to get some better views, they all flew off. So I only got a couple of record shots of the ringed plover. Beautiful little birds!
Two female scaups were on Pagham lagoon (too far away for any decent shots though), along with a great crested grebe, a coot and quite a few black-headed gulls (couldn't find a Mediterranean gull in there).
My personal highlight of the day was a lone sand martin that I spotted hawking over the water.
We then moved on to the Woodland Hide where I was hoping to get a few more shots of brambling before they all fly off to their breeding grounds. After about 10 minutes a beautiful female appeared and I got some nice shots of her (much better than the poor record shot I got before!), followed by at least 4 lovely males, all coming into breeding plumage (one looked particularly smart).
We also had lovely views of a nuthatch, a coal tit collecting nesting material, a siskin, a lesser redpoll, a greenfinch, a wren and some blue tits.
I also saw a common lizard enjoying the sunshine.
And of course there were some beautiful ponies! Being a horse person, I always love seeing them.
Young New Forest pony
So we drove around for another 20 minutes trying to find a certain site that we know is supposed to be good for Dartfords. Again we walked around for what felt like 50 miles but no Darties. More ponies of course, a mistle thrush, meadow pipits, skylarks and stonechats. Time to give up?
All of a sudden, on the way back to the car we thought we could hear the song we had been hoping for all day...and scanning the gorse nearby we saw him: a fantastic male Dartford warbler! Brilliant!
Male Dartford warbler
We also saw the female perched on top of the gorse behind the male.
Female Dartford warbler
Looking up, I noticed a bird of prey flying low over the heath. Wow, a beautiful male hen harrier - a lifer!
What a great day!
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
One bird stood out. A female, much larger than the other redpolls, very pale with no brown on her chest/sides/upperparts and a bright white wingbar. Having studied quite a few photos and having read several articles on how to tell the two species apart, I am fairly certain that this bird is a mealy. I only managed a couple of poor shots before the bird flew off but you can clearly see how different it looks from the lesser redpoll.
It's the bird on the right - large and very pale.
If anyone thinks I'm completely wrong, please do get in touch. I do hope it is a mealy...a lifer for me! :)
Monday, March 14, 2011
Not much else of note - apart from 100+ dark-bellied brent geese that were put up by a Royal Navy helicopter.
We then moved on to Church Norton, where the first two birds we spotted were a redshank and a curlew. When I looked up, I couldn't believe our luck: a female kestrel was hovering right above us, looking for prey. We had cracking views and watched this beautiful bird for about 20 minutes. Despite several attempts, she didn't catch anything while we were there. I managed to get a few nice shots that I will add to my gallery asap.
We still hadn't seen any migrants (I had hoped there might be a wheatear around somewhere) when I heard a familiar alarm call: the first chiffchaff of the year! It was feeding in the shrub and was in very good condition. Lovely! Roll on spring!
Near the Severals, we heard a Cetti's warbler and then walked down to the beach, where we saw oystercatchers and had lovely views of a couple of turnstones.
On the way back to the car, we saw a pair of teal (beautiful!) and a curlew flew over. The kestrel was still hunting in the distance.
A lovely day!
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Dartford Warbler photos
While we couldn't spot any Dartfords anywhere (boo-hoo!), we did see a couple of croaking ravens, a buzzard, a kestrel, a pair of stonechats and several skylarks.
A male skylark was displaying and singing beautifully high up in the sky.
Another two skylarks were feeding on the path in front of us, giving us lovely views. One then flew up and perched on a gorse bush for a few seconds. Beautiful birds!
Monday, March 07, 2011
No? Can't see it? OK, let me help you:
I have finally seen a bittern! :)
Thursday, March 03, 2011
So we decided to pop down to Warnham Nature Reserve and come back for the waxwings later.