Friday, 2 December 2016

The Sussex Desert.

I was in a bit of a dilemma yesterday as I was really keen to see the gorgeous Desert Wheatear that had been found by Chris Ball on the beach near Norman's Bay, but I had to be at home for our energy meters to be changed. With Pen also out for a couple of hours in the morning I had no choice but to stay at home and clean the bathrooms!! Well, someone has to do it!!
Just after 11 am there was still no sign of the workman but Pen returned home. With news that the bird was still there and showing pretty well Pen told me that she could sort the bloke out when he turns up which allowed me to get going. I have only seen one Desert Wheatear before and that was 10 years ago and only a few hundred metres away from where this bird was.
The bird was visible straight away, although at the time quite distant. However, it soon came near and along with a few other birders we then spent a few hours in the company of this lost, but beautiful, little bird. The only time it seemed concerned was when a digger drove past quite close, the noise of that certainly moved the bird away. Fortunately the digger only went past us twice and the bird soon returned to its favoured area. Later in the day the bird moved away from the area where it was joined by a female Black Redstart and at one point they were both sitting on adjoining fence posts in a garden. That's two pretty good garden ticks!!

The 1st Winter Male Desert Wheatear.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Bearded Tits at last!!

After several attempts over many years, as well as 4 attempts over the past couple of weeks it was more than a relief to at last get a few photos of these gorgeous birds today. After getting the Slavonian Grebe yesterday I suppose that gave me the confidence to keep going!! Out of the, now 5 recent attempts, I have seen the Bearded Tits 3 times. Each time it is a pair and quite possibly the same pair. Although the photos I've managed are a long way from the best Bearded Tit photos I am pleased to at last get something reasonable, and they certainly are my best Bearded Tit pictures!! Following this the Slavonian Grebe once again put on a pretty good display for me. I didn't see the Long-tailed Duck today although apparently it had been seen earlier in the day. Perhaps the fishermen in the area the Duck prefers made it go into hiding.

Bearded Tit (Reedling).

Male and Female Bearded Tit.

Male Bearded Tit.

Slavonian Grebe.

Monday, 28 November 2016

If At First You Don't Succeed!!

Having been to West Rise 3 times over the past week hoping to get shots of the Slavonian Grebe, and deciding on Saturday that it had moved on as no-one saw it despite lots of searching, I was very pleased and surprised today to see that the bird was still there. I was also lucky on this 4th visit to have the bird swim very close giving me the chance of a couple of shots. Unfortunately, the Bearded Tits I went for today, despite having 3 good views of them, managed to avoid posing for the camera again!!
The Long-tailed Duck was once again in its favoured part of the lake.

Slavonian Grebe (Winter Plumage).

Saturday, 26 November 2016

West Rise.

With very little happening over the last few days due possibly to the high winds I have had 3 visits to West Rise at Eastbourne where a smart Slavonian Grebe and Long-tailed Duck have been. On my first visit I was unaware that the Grebe was there and I didn't spend as much time as I should have done as it was quite approachable. I spent most of my time trying to get an image of the duck, which stayed well out of reach most of the time. During the 3 visits though, the 2nd visit mainly, I had some wonderful views of Bearded Tit. At one time I had a male and female together, although the windy conditions made it impossible for a photograph. Today the Grebe had moved on it seems and the Bearded Tits didn't show at all, however, the duck was slightly closer than it had been on earlier days, although not as close as the Rye bird from 3 years ago. The light had also gone downhill by that time with heavy cloud rolling in.

Long-tailed Duck from Rye, October 2013.

Long-tailed Duck, Eastbourne.

Mute Swan.

Reed Bunting feeding on the Reed. (If only it had been a Bearded Tit)!!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Fly Agaric.

On Sunday I was at the Butterfly Conservation Reserve at Park Corner helping out at the latest work party. During clearing a large amount of Birch saplings on the edge of the Beech Wood I came across several Fly Agaric, some were mature but there were also a couple in the earlier stage where they are red with the white spots before they open. This is a lovely stage and today I went back with the camera this time to try and capture them. Unfortunately today I could only find the mature stage, however, I did find one that hadn't been attacked by slugs and was among the fallen Beech leaves.

Fly Agaric.

On Monday I called down to Newhaven Pier to once again see if the Purple Sandpipers had returned yet for the winter. On the lower parts of the pier I counted at least 8 of these super waders. Unfortunately they stayed on the lower part. Up on top though the Turnstones were putting on a fine show despite the very cloudy conditions. Along the length of the pier there were 10 sitting up top where I wanted the Sandpipers!!


Saturday, 12 November 2016

Rye Scaup.

A superb day at Rye yesterday with the sun shining and, once again, feeling quite warm. It was a toss up whether to head West for raptors or East for water birds. In the end I opted for Rye, as there were 3 juvenile Scaup showing well from one of the hides. I left much later than I had planned and this was made worse with some hold-ups en route. Once there however, it was a pleasant walk to the hides where the Scaup were visible straight away. As is usual with this species though, they were fast asleep!! Being late then worked in my favour as I didn't have to wait too long for them to become active. They were soon preening before they started diving for food. Eventually they made their way around in front of the hide giving some good opportunities for photography.

The Juvenile Scaup.

Also from the hide a female Red-breasted Merganser was seen but this was quite distant.
I then headed over to Castle Water where several Common Darters were still on the wing. Some Bullfinch were near the hide and a decent view of a Cetti's Warbler from the hide were good. 

Common Darter.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Cold Cuckmere.

With the sun shining and with a cold Northerly wind blowing I decided to take a stroll down the Cuckmere to the sea. Once again I was hoping for Snow Bunting on the beach or maybe a Shorelark. On the riverbank I was surprised to see 3 approachable Brent Geese. Matt told me he had found these about a week ago, but as he hadn't mentioned them since I had assumed they had moved on.

Brent Goose.

Further on I then came across another bird that has been hanging around the area for some time. A Knot that has a broken leg. Amazingly it can only use the one leg but it can feed and balance on that. The broken leg is deformed and has lost it's colour.

Knot feeding.

Knot balancing!! (Oh yes it is).

Near the beach I then started to look for the smaller birds and was surprised to see a Migrant Hawker flying. Being this late in the season it had some wing damage, although not as much as it could have. I certainly wasn't expecting to photograph one of these today in such cold conditions.

Male Migrant Hawker.

In the area I also saw a smart Water Rail, Greenshank and Snipe. On the way back along the river a Redshank and Stonechat showed well, it was then a repeat performance from the Brent Geese.



Brent Goose.

I had parked the car in the Forest and here I saw a Red Admiral and several Common Darters, not such a surprise as here it was sheltered from the cold wind.