Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ring Ouzel

Photo by Martin Peacock

No big news from Pulborough today; though notable birds would be Snipe, Little Egret, Bullfinch, Skylark, Chiffchaff, Mistle Thrush, Redwing and Stonechat. We did, however, get a good tip on some Ring Ouzels near Worthing (Thanks John!). I missed Ring Ouzel on our trip to Scotland this year so was happy to give this a go! With our bellies full of Puborough cake and tea we headed south. 

On arrival at Cissbury Ring, a few miles north of worthing, we met with some birders who informed us that the birds were still there. This species stops here on migration annually; both  in spring and Autumn. We followed directions given out by the Sussex Ornithological Society, directing us to the west side of the site. Here we bumped into a few more birders who were staking out the Yew tree pictured above. I spent about an hour here and got my first look at a British Ring Ouzel!

Photo by Martin Peacock

I didn't realize how skulky they were. For most of my hour vigil I squinted into this thick tree, hoping for movement. I was told there was more than five individuals in this tree but they only made very short appearances to grab a berry, only to return seconds later. However, I did get some short but good looks! Here I shared my first Ring Ouzel sighting with local birder and photographer Martin Peacock; who has kindly allowed me to use two of his photos for my blog.

Mushroom on Cissbury Ring - photo by Nolan

Nolan at Pulborough Brooks RSPB Reserve

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Elmley Marshes

Have had a fun weekend with some very cool birds. It started off on Friday with my visit to Staines Reservoir with a wonderful Garganey. Saturday I spent a few hours poking around West Sussex, specifically to twitch the Pectoral Sandpiper at Pulborough Brooks RSPB. Unfortunately this rare north american shorebird was a no show. I then headed up to Burpham in search of raptors; here I found 10 Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk and 1 Red Kite. Today Lori and I headed out to Elmley Marshes in Kent; departing Woking at 07:10 am with a fly-over Kingfisher adding itself to our garden list. Not a bad start! 

RSPB office and farm house

After making a slight 'detour' on the Isle of Sheppey we arrived at Elmley Marshes at about 09:20am. On the drive across the marsh to the reserve we got our target bird: MERLIN! A bird I new well in Canada but a bird that had eluded me in the UK. Anyhow, the pressure was off immediately and we had a fairly casual walk ( casual..ish..the far hide is a real slog...won't be going to that one again) around the reserve getting good looks at Marsh Harrier, including a stunning male, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. In fact, the best opportunity I've ever had at getting a photo of a Kestrel. Other species of note included: Green Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Ruff, Dunlin. Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Snipe, Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Corn Bunting and Little Egret.



Friday, October 5, 2012


The benefits of finishing early on a Friday are that when a bird turns up close to home, I can go for it. This particular individual had been at the reservoir at Staines for the last week. So, I shot home, grabbed my scope, dropped my son off at his cousins, spotted a Red Kite flying over my brothers house, grabbed some food, sliced through Woking, cruised the M25 then TRAFFIC JAM!....40 minutes later (some road rage) I pulled over at Staines reservoir. As reported this juvenile Garganey was on the west side of the north basin. For the first 10 minutes it sat with its head tucked; only giving away its identity when it began to preen. Having said that, it gave out plenty of clues such as size, leg colour and striped head pattern. Eventually it took to the water and began bathing, giving me great looks until deciding to join some Shoveler on the east side of the reservoir. Great bird and about time! Thanks to Surrey Bird Club and Rare Bird Alert.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Papercourt delights

Had a nice visit to my local patch this evening; being the first time  I've been able to use my new scope (arrived Monday). First bird to be viewed was....drum roll.......Starling. Could have waited for some 'cool' bird to come along but I opted for a perched Starling on a wire. Next on the scope tick list was Stonechat; which immediately reminded why I wanted this scope, and confirmed my decision. Happy birder. The evening was pleasantly mild and there was plenty to keep me occupied. There were approximately 100 House Martin snacking on bugs above the meadow including 2-3 Swallows. Next up was not one, but two Short-eared Owls! Both hunted out in front of me, though on the other side of the meadow for about twenty minutes. This gave me a great opportunity to test my scope at distance and in fading light. Absolutely thrilled with the results! A calling wader flying over snapped me away from my owl vi dual: GREEN SANDPIPER! New bird for my 'patch list' 2012....number 91. Two minutes later an adult male Peregrine came screaming through; making a b-line for a Woking Pigeon no doubt...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Birdwatch Magazine

In this months issue (October 2012) there is an article  about my friend; Jon Carter, who is presently living on Vancouver Island. The article is called Ex-pats around the World. Click on the link above to find out more or buy a copy at a good newsagent. Here is a link to Jon's birding blog 

Also in this issue; on page 5, is a photo of my family on Pen-Y-Fan, Wales.