Sunday 12 May 2019

South coast weekend 4/5 May

We spent a couple of nights on the south coast, staying in Chichester for the bank holiday weekend 4/5 May.

On the 4 May, Titchfield Haven proved quiet with only Avocets coming moderately close to the hide from time to time. The only waders at high tide along the shore were Turnstones,  a few of which were in summer plumage.

By the time we got to nearby Farlington Marshes, the tide was well out and there was little to see, apart from a distant Little Tern, and several Whimbrel, one of which appeared to tolerate our presence more than most, but still too distant for worthwhile photos.

The following day, we strolled down to the coast at the new RSPB reserve of Medmerry which was also quiet apart from some breeding Avocets on the Stilt pool, a fly over Whimbrel and close in Sandwich Terns on the shoreline.

Later we tried Pagham Harbour and found the Ferry Pool  quiet even at high tide. The harbour itself at Church Norton was however better...

While sitting on the bench that overlooks the harbour down the track from Church Norton, and trying to ID distant terns over their island, I suddenly became aware that the nearby marshy area contained some Whimbrel. Not only that, they seemed fairly confiding and by sitting still this one eventually came pretty close. It even then tolerated me getting up to follow its movement along the shore!

Surprising, as I've always previously found Whimbrel to be very wary. 

For a larger image, go here

For a larger image, go here

The following day we went home via Pulborough Brooks RSPB which was a new reserve for us. The main aim was the hear and see Nightingale. However we arrived late morning to find the immense car park packed (not a good start) and then wandered around the reserve to hear nothing and see very little, until we got almost back to the visitor centre. Here by a strange yurt was a volunteer listening hard. At first there was nothing, but shortly a Nightingale did start to sing, despite it being midday. But it was some way off in dense cover, on the opposite of the public footpath, so we never got a glimpse of it, let alone a photo. 

Thursday 9 May 2019

Grimsbury Reservoir 9 May

Today was the first real chance I had to go for the Red-rumped Swallow, so it was great to hear from JFT that the bird was still present at around 07:30. So off I went, battling the rush hour traffic northwards. Having to almost traverse the full length of the county, and with a brief stop at the services, it wasn't until about 09:00 that I arrived to a distinctly dank Grimsbury Reservoir.

I started along the W side path, and initially had the place to myself. Fortunately, I managed to pick the bird up low over the reservoir quite quickly and then set about trying to get some photos. At this stage the bird was coming in low down, close into the W bank of the reservoir. To get any photos, this involved shooting through the chain link fence. With this and the poor light it was surprising I managed to get anything at all worthwhile.

Red-rumped Swallow

It then perched up on the fence not far from me, but was regrettably flushed by an approaching dog walker seconds before I could get the big lens into action (why do they always come along at just the wrong moment!). I then lost it for a considerable length of time. A photographer from Nottingham recommended the northern end for shots of it perched, so that is where I headed. The rain then really started coming down. There were plenty of hirundines perched, mostly House Martins, but there was no sign of the Swallow.  Also a nice group of 3 summer plumaged Dunlin in the heavy  rain and at least one Common Sand.

A passing dog walker then said he had seen it (or something that sounded quite like it) over on the east side, so that it where I tried next, to no avail. Finally, I decided it was time to go, and headed back down the W side, only to find the RR Swallow nicely settled on the fence, just about where it had been around 2hrs ago! This time it stayed put just long enough for me to get a series of photos.

Red-rumped Swallow and House Martin
For larger versions of these images, click here

Wednesday 1 May 2019

Great evening visit to Pit 60 - Monday 29 April

Hearing the news of the Barwit and Whimbrel (both amazing birds for Pit 60 regulars), I left work as early as I could. However as I first had to go home to get the optics, it wasn't until about 18:20 that I finally made it to the North Shore Hide. Presumably there had been some birders and photographers there earlier, but it was completely empty for me.

By that time, the sun was fully out and beginning to sink into the west which gave superb light, looking in the right direction of course. On arrival, the Barwit was in the right direction (i.e. east of the hide) but on the shore of a nearby island where it was too distant for good photos. After a bit of feeding it promptly stopped and went to sleep. Not quite the hoped for outcome!

Shortly afterwards (at about 18:40), a pair of Curlew flew in for an evening bathing session. They were in the same general direction as the sleeping Barwit but in the small bay between the shore and the island and considerably closer.

One of two Curlews
Click here for a larger image

Shortly afterwards the Curlews departed and then the Barwit woke up and starting feeding again. Amazingly it then flew past the hide, and then turned around and alighted on the water's edge on the bank just in front of the hide, where it started feeding (at about 18:55). This was more like it!

It then gradually moved away from the hide, but not before I had managed to take numerous photos of this stunning bird in full summer plumage.

Click here for a larger image

Bar-tailed Godwit near to the North Shore hide.
Click here for a larger image
A few minutes later, the Barwit had moved away until it was at a less interesting distance, whereupon I heard distant Whimbrel calls and caught a glimpse of it flying off to the north east. The Barwit followed suit, and I thought that was it.

However the Barwit was then back just a few minutes later, and I then had a distant view of the Whimbrel down on the island near to the Langley Lane Hide. So as the light was beginning to go, I made my way down there, only to find it had moved off again!

After a short time, there were more Whimbrel calls and I had a brief view of it and another larger wader, that I took to be the Barwit, flying off over the LL hide in an easterly direction.

Despite the lack of any close Whimbrel views, this had been a remarkable visit indeed for what is generally a site of only occasional rewards. These photos must be my best for Pit 60 by some margin and certainly made this evening visit a really great one!