Friday, 26 October 2012

Desert Wheatear - up close and personal

There's no better way to brighten up a wet and miserable day than with a spot of Twitching! So when I received news that the male Desert Wheatear was still in Worthing giving great views along the promenade (another excuse to try out the new camera and lens set-up), I decided to go on a south coast jaunt to try and see this showy bird for myself - and I wasn't disappointed!

This Wheatear which should have been on its way to its wintering grounds in the deserts of north and central Africa performed wonderfully well to the small group of watchers, flitting between the wooden posts on the pebble beach and the large wave break rocks, often landing only a few feet away.

I know I won't be alone when it comes to having some great images of this obliging bird but here are a few personal favourites out of the several hundred photos I took on the day.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Wanstead Flats - "Golden" moments

I'm fully aware that when it comes to birding over at Wanstead I'm quite low down in the pecking order (bad bird pun) in terms of the amount of hard hours put in watching and walking the Flats or the Park, but since a change in fortunes in regards to work, my opportunities to go birding locally has significantly increased and although I've found little of local interest to write about - apart from finally catching up with an autumn Ring Ouzel and six possible Northern Pintail (distant views in poor weather) today I had a change of luck!

Nick had already scored early with Hawfinch again over the Esso garage copse and Brambling in with a flock of Chaffinches and just when I thought I'd missed the days best birds, out of the mist three Woodlarks virtually flew over me, calling softly to one another - to quote Jono "Patch Gold!" and then within a few minutes standing in the same spot I was looking skyward (thanks Mr Lindo) at the steady stream of Finches and Thrushes going over when I picked out a lone wader heading north-west! "Bloody hell a Wader" as the brain started to go into overdrive, I followed its path in my bins and then a second bird came into view and without doubt I was briefly watching a pair of Golden Plover flying high over the flats and out of sight....double "patch gold" - move over Mo Farah! It was at this point I remembered that I had new camera and lens hanging over my shoulder!!! Next time...

In time and with a new mindset I hope to bring one or two quality images of any future finds or sightings but until I get my head around the fact that I now have an additional birding tool to share my exploits -  you will just have to do with a Robin from my garden :-)

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Short-billed Dowitcher - performs!

I finally caught up with the long staying Short-billed Dowitcher at Lodmoor today after finding myself with somewhat extra leisure time - lost my job!

Having first been found at the beginning of September this juvenile bird has lost its warm rufous tones and in a month is now showing its greyer, colder looking winter plumage - but it's still a cracking bird to look at!

When I turned up at Lodmoor around 8am after a three hour drive, the bird was quickly located along the muddy fringes of the scrape, asleep with its head in its wing - one or two of the local birders suggested that this may be the best view I would get, as the bird often spent a large part of its day asleep or out of view.

But after around half an hour the bird started to feed along the muddy margins along side a couple of Snipe - result! And for the next hour I was rewarded with stunning views, less than 50 feet away in great light conditions with the sun behind me - perfect.

With both Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzard knocking around it wasn't long before the bird was spooked and taking flight it showed off its white cigar shaped pattern on its back - not unlike Spotted Redshank. It then circled the scrape before plonking itself down even closer to where I was standing, giving some rather crippling views - with the ID clinching tiger stripped tertials in full evidence.

Seeing a new bird always gives you a buzz but when you see it 'well' this really does make the early start, long drive and earache from Mrs B seem more than worthwhile.