Thursday 23 January 2014

White-fronted Geese

With the sun coming out this afternoon I called down to the Cuckmere Valley to have a look at the 3 White-fronted Geese. Although quite distant they showed quite well feeding alongside the Canada Geese with a backdrop of a massive Gull roost. 

Whilst looking at the geese a Kingfisher was pointed out which was posing well.

Then onto the seafront where a Rock Pipit appeared.

Saturday 18 January 2014

Newhaven Purple Sandpipers.

I have wanted to try to get some photos of the Purple Sandpipers on the East Pier at Newhaven for some time now. With the weather being slightly better than predicted today and with high tide being around lunchtime Pete and myself decided to have a go. The wind was blowing quite a bit and we had to try to avoid the spray but as we arrived at the pier we could see 3 Sandpipers at the far end of the pier on the top level. As we took pictures of these birds other Sandpipers flew up to the top level squabbling with those already there making some fly briefly off the pier before landing further along. We certainly saw double figure quantity of birds with some great close views.

After leaving the Sandpipers we looked around Tide Mills where 3 Jack Snipe were seen as well as a close sighting of a male Stonechat.

Monday 13 January 2014

Parrot Crossbill

It was a bit of a cool breeze as well as being pretty wet as we arrived at Old Lodge in the hope of seeing the flock of Parrot Crossbills. After a couple of hours of wandering about we were beginning to think we were going to be out of luck. We had just started to chat with Alan Kitson and Tim Parmenter when I spotted a flock of small birds some distance away. We headed towards them and as they took off again it was clear that they were Crossbills with 11 birds seen and heard. The light was not particularly good but we did manage to creep up quite close, although it was amazing how they kept hidden in the trees. At least one bird was a Common Crossbill but all the other birds seen clearly were almost certainly Parrot Crossbill showing large bills and chunky necks!!

Male Parrot Crossbill

Thursday 9 January 2014

The Hove Phalarope.

With some spare time today Pete and I headed just a little way west to check out the fabulous Grey Phalarope at Hove. With the sun shining, and confirmation that the bird was still there just before we arrived, it was great to watch this little bird wizzing around the paddling pool like a clockwork toy. We spent some time with the bird and many other admirers before moving onto Shoreham hoping to see a Glaucous Gull. We were not lucky with this however.

We then moved onto Widewater to watch the Red-breasted Mergansers. We saw 4 in total, 1 male and 3 redheads. The male tried some courtship but there was little interest coming from the redheads!!

Monday 6 January 2014

The Disappearing Elms and White Letter Hairstreaks

In 2009 I managed to find several colonies of White Letter Hairstreak butterflies along the Cuckmere valley. The following year I succeeded in photographing them as there was a superb elm tree next to a bramble bush which the butterflies were coming down to nectar on. Since this time the dreaded Dutch Elm Disease has returned with a vengeance in this area and 100s of trees have been felled, including the one next to the bramble bush!! As the only food plant for this hairstreak is elm this has been very bad news. Although in 2013 there were still several colonies there the areas where they are has diminished. It is also much harder to find areas where they come down to nectar as most of the time they stay near the top of the remaining elms feeding on honeydew left by aphids. All is not lost however as the adults do sometimes lay their eggs on the elm suckers that do appear when the old trees are felled, although many of these suckers show signs of the disease.
I have put together a small selection of photographs I have managed to get over the last few years of this very elusive species in the hope that they may still be seen for many years to come.
female from July 2010
female from July 2010
male from July 2011

female from July 2011

female from July 2011

female from August 2013

Thursday 2 January 2014

Hare Today

With the sun shining brightly I decided to see if I could get some shots of the Brown Hares in the arable field. On arrival I was disappointed not to be able to see any Hares, remembering however from last year how well hidden they can be, I walked closer to the field and eventually I spotted one that was actually quite close. Once again it was laying very low in its form and I walked towards it at a slow pace managing to get within 15 feet of it. After getting several pictures, including head and shoulder shots which really show the fabulous large brown eye, it remained there so I reversed back leaving it in peace. Some 2 hours later on my return it was still in the same position.
I was also pleased to see a weasel running across the path in front of me, I was hoping that it would come out of the undergrowth to have a look at me but unfortunately it remained hidden. I can't remember seeing a weasel all of last year so it was really good to see this one.
I got back to the car just as the torrential rain started, well happy with the day.