Thursday, September 15, 2011

Finally - a whinchat!

Well it's only taken about 1 1/2 years for me to see my first ever winchat...three days ago I finally saw my first Saxicola rubetra at Canon's Farm, Banstead (Surrey). And what a lovely little bird! It was perched on a fence most of the time but a bit distant so I only got a couple of record shots. But I'm not complaining! I can finally say: I've seen a whinchat! :)

Wheatear saves the day

Last Sunday, we went to Church Norton. Some good migrants have been turning up there in the last couple of weeks, including wheatear, whinchat, pied flycatcher and even a wryneck. Unfortunately it was very windy so any small birds that might have been around were all hiding - I only saw one chiffchaff. While watching a lot of swallows, I missed a sandwich tern that was flying right above my head (would have been a first for me!) - I saw a photo of it later that my partner took who was stood next to me. Oh well, a great start! Was this going to be another frustrating day? A trip to Seaford Head and Pulborough Brooks last Wednesday had been fruitless - I saw no migrants at all apart from two VERY distant wheatears.

On the beach, there were a few turnstones, curlews and oystercatchers - they were not willing to pose for a few photos. Great. And SO windy! Makes it VERY hard to handhold a heavy camera and lens!

When I was just about to give up, I scanned the beach for about 5 more minutes - and finally, there was some movement. A lone first-winter wheatear!

So the next few hours were spent trying to get closer to it without chasing it. It seemed to be getting used to me after a while, and I ended up just standing in the same place for a long time, after finding out which spots it preferred for feeding. And it eventually came to me, sheltering from the wind nearby, looking at me. The best shots I got when it was feeding behind the sea defences. I tried to duck & hide - it would only have seen my lens. It was SO cute - when it heard the clicking noise it came running (!) right up to me - it was only about 2 metres away from me - looking at me as if to say 'What ARE you doing there, silly - I do know you are there! Go on then, take a few shots.' :) Made my day!

Who are you?

For more photos of this wheatear and others, click here: Wheatear photos

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Crested Tits

I haven't manged to get out and see whinchat, wheatear or any other migrants since I saw the hoopoe, mainly due to the fact that I was away visiting family in Germany for 10 days (and now that I'm back the weather is rubbish of course!).
I didn't take my camera or bins or anything but that didn't stop me looking out for any feathered creatures that might fly my way when we went for a walk in the very very green and beautiful "Sauerland" woodland. I heard and saw some goldcrests, chiffchaffs, treecreepers, great and blue tits, robins, a buzzard, 5 woodpeckers (I'm still not sure which - it just didn't sound like GSWs so could have been families of either middle spotted or lesser spotted, all of which can be found there).
When I was pointing out a goldcrest to my family, I all of sudden noticed a bird that I had been wanting to see again for ages: a crested tit! I only got a very brief view so returned to the same spot the following day (just can't help being a birder!). :) I was lucky, I found at least 4 crested tits feeding in the tree tops. At one point, one was feeding right above my head and then landed on the ground about 2 metres away from my feet. So even without bins, camera (or my glasses!!) I had fantastic views of this beautiful little bird and was a very happy bunny indeed! :)
Unfortunately my mobile was useless....these are the record shots I got - probably the worst record shots in the history of birding!

Not great...nevermind. I did do a quick sketch for you!