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.

Thursday 3 November 2016

The Tide Mills Hobby.

A visit to Tide Mills and Newhaven Pier today to see if any Purple Sandpipers had arrived yet and it was still like a Summers day rather than the 3rd November. Whilst walking along the beach hoping for Snow Bunting I saw a distant scrap between a falcon and a crow. I saw the falcon land in a Buddleia bush near the factories, on looking through the binoculars I saw it had a white mark on the head. I decided to try to get closer to confirm the species. I was very surprised to find that I could get very close to the bird without it flying off. After a while it took off and landed on a factory roof before eventually flying off in the direction of the sea. It turned out to be a juvenile Hobby, a very late record and my closest encounter with one of these beautiful birds.

Juvenile Hobby on Buddleia.

The Hobby just before flying South.

Following this I went back to the seashore where a Turnstone was on the waters edge. I soon saw why as masses of White-bait were being chased by a shoal of Mackerel. Lots of White-bait were being stranded on the beach where the Turnstone was feeding on them. Amazing that there are so many Mackerel still about on 3rd November. I then went on the pier where lots of people were catching so many Mackerel. It was very sad though seeing the Mackerel, many undersized, being chucked in buckets whilst still alive. I tried telling one that he should kill the fish straight away so they didn't suffer, but I couldn't make him understand!! Further along the pier another Turnstone was on the top of the concrete allowing some close photography. Unfortunately I didn't see any Purple Sandpipers.  I suppose with a Hobby and loads of Mackerel it is far too summery for them.

Turnstone looking out for White-bait.

Turnstone on the pier.

Tuesday 1 November 2016

In Search of the Great Grey Shrike.

The last day of October and it felt like the middle of the summer. I met up with Phil Winter and together we climbed the steep side of Kingston Hill hoping to see the Great Grey Shrike that has been there for the last week. We started off in the wrong area where I had misunderstood from Matt which stile to start looking. Apart from a few small birds in the bushes, and a tame Robin that was trying to tell us we needed to move on, the Shrike was not showing. After a while we did move on and it was there that, with Simon Linnington, the bird was spotted a long way off at the top of  a bush. From then on the bird was showing most of the time, and although it was not too bothered by humans it always kept a safe distance away!! At the top of the hill the views were amazing, especially with the autumn colours in the village below. If the bird stays around I may well be tempted to see if I can get some better photos of it, as those taken on this visit were pretty poor!!

The tame Robin telling us we were in the wrong spot!!

Great Grey Shrike admiring the view.

A different Robin sitting where the Shrike should have been.

Snowy Inkcap