Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ashdown Forest - Old Lodge NR

The weather is not exactly brilliant at the moment, especially if you're a bird photographer. In fact it's been a pretty rubbish 'winter' for photography!
The only sunny afternoon last week was spent at Old Lodge Nature Reserve. Quite a bit of bird activity although I didn't manage to spot woodlark, the great grey shrike (which remains a species I have yet to see for the first time) nor the Dartford warbler that a lucky birder had watched the previous day.

But as you know, I don't desperately "need" a new or rare species to enjoy my day out birding. I'm happy to watch any bird.

There was a lovely fieldfare (or probably more but I only spotted the one) and I managed a shot that is much better than my previous 'record' shot of this beautiful winter thrush.

There were three bullfinches - two males and a female - in the same bush but they weren't willing to pose for a photo.

We saw robin, blackbird, chaffinch, great spotted woodpecker, siskin, crow and - to my suprise - a flock of at least 10 reed buntings.

I watched plenty of goldcrests feeding, along with coal tit, blue tit and great tit.
20+ redpolls (mostly lessers but I am fairly certain I spotted a couple of mealies) were very active flying from tree to tree, feeding and taking off again. Lovely!

On the way back to the car, I spotted two or three crossbill with a beautiful male on the look-out.

What I enjoyed the most was listening to numerous coal tits and great tits singing their little hearts out. Spring has officially arrived!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Still birding!

Wow! Have I really not updated my blog since September?! Very embarrassing. But in case you were wondering, no, I have not quit birding and yes, I still enjoy bird photography as well! 
There'll be more blog posts in 2012, I promise. :)

Some of the birding highlights I didn't tell you about last year include more whinchats (seen around Cissbury Ring) and a beautiful grey phalarope at Prinsted in West Sussex:

More shots of this confiding little bird can be found here: Grey Phalarope

Then, in October, I finally saw crossbills on Ashdown Forest. Beautiful and fascinating finches! I really enjoyed watching them in the autumn sunshine, along with lots of siskins and lesser redpolls. Finch Fest!!

More photos: Crossbills

Also enjoyed the many wheatears - always good to see those little beauties. One juvenile bird allowed me to walk right up to it (very slowly of course) and get my best wheatear shots to date! More pictures can be found here:  wheatear photos.

In November, lots of short-eared owls were reported in Sussex. Would I get to see my first ever wild owl? YES! At Waltham Brooks, I was able to watch up to four owls hunting at the same time. What a privilege!

I did get a few shots as well. :) More here: short-eared owl photos.

In December, two snow buntings were reported on the beach at Shoreham (Widewater Lagoon) and as I just LOVE snow buntings, I had to go and see them! We did find them but they were spooked and flew off after two minutes. We went back twice but could not find them. Last week, we were lucky - the birds are still around (in fact were joined by a third snow bunting a few days ago) and we got to watch the pair for over an hour. Here's a shot of the female:

More shots here: snow bunting photos
We also had a lovely time watching the beautiful firecrests at Pulborough Brooks (in December and also a few days ago) - not easy to photograph though! Always moving about, always hyper! Check out my firecrest photos

While I'm looking forward to some 'lifers' in 2012 (still loads of 'new' birds to see!), I am not a twitcher and I do not keep a year list. I just love to watch birds, their behaviour and, if possible, take a few nice photos. I can't wait for the summer visitors to return - the first swallow, the first whitethroat and I am always happy to watch and photograph 'common' birds. I just love them all!

I'll tell you about my birding adventures here, so make sure you'll check back soon! Also, my latest bird photos will be published here.

Happy birding, everyone!