Friday, February 08, 2013

The Colour Purple

No, don't worry, this is not a book review although I do thoroughly recommend Alice Walker's novels.

I had been wanting to see purple sandpipers for a while, so about a week ago, when the weather forecast seemed ok (emphasis on "seemed" as it turned out - there was no sun and it was freezing; nothing new there!), we popped down to Shoreham. We first stopped off at Widewater Lagoon, where I wanted to photograph the red-breasted mergansers. No sign of them. No snow buntings either this winter, shame!

A couple of turnstones were roosting on the beach, a kestrel was hovering and a little egret was posing for a few seconds before flying off. Lots of little grebes were on the lagoon and that was pretty much all that was about apart from the usual gulls and mallards.

Not sure what to make of me and my camera...turnstone.

Beautiful male kestrel looking for a meal.

Little egret looking stunning in the sunshine.
I briefly scanned the sea and spotted a large flock of common scoter, my first. I don't own a scope and always leave my bins at home (my cam & lens are about as much weight as I can carry!) so sea-watching isn't really something I can do with a 400mm lens. Anyhow, watching the scoters bobbing up and down on the water and then taking off was great!

Common scoter taking off.

We then moved on the Shoreham Harbour, a place we had not visited before, and checked out the old Fort briefly (too many dog walkers but I'm sure wheatears love it when they stop off during migration).

 Great black-backed gull...a huge bird and very impressive in flight.

The tide was in and we immediately spotted 4-5 purple sandpipers feeding at the bottom of the wooden pier. A bit distant but unmistakable. Yay! Another first, I love seeing 'new' birds, it's always so fascinating. It then got even better. Two 'purplies' flew across the water and landed about 20 feet away from us.

Perfect views without disturbing the birds while they were feeding, probing the ground with their long bills. I love waders and purple sandpipers are absolutely beautiful!


My favourite shot:

 I hope I'll soon have another encounter with these lovely little birds.

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