Showing posts from 2016

Merry Christmas and a Happy, Wildlife-Filled New Year!

Hi everyone! It's the second day of winter, all though it doesn't look like it outside, and I haven't posted for a long time so here's an update on what I have been up to!

Although I haven't done a lot of wildlife-related things over the last few weeks, I did go to RSPB Pulborough Brooks last weekend and haven't got round to blogging about it. 

We started off by walking down to the hides, in the trees surrounding the path a group of Goldcrests made their way from branch to branch whilst a flock of Long-Tailed Tits acrobatically flew into the distant trees. Reaching the hide the usual culprits were on the lake, with Wigeon and Teal being the most numerous. Lapwing also squabbled on the grass, lifting into the air as I spotted a lone pair of Shelduck asleep on the water. A Mistle Thrush also hid amongst the grass to the side of the hide.

Reaching the viewpoint, a Peregrine sat in its usual tree, its feathers being ruffled by the growing wind. Whilst I watched thi…
The weather is starting to turn very cold, the leaves scattered on the ground are crystallised in frost and the birds are desperately searching the trees for ruby red berries. On Sunday I heard news of a immature Rose-Coloured Starling that had been visiting a garden for around 3 weeks but the news had only just come out. Luckily for me where it had been sighted was only literally up the road so, a 4 minute drive later, I was there. 

After getting parked up, I had checked all the trees and where the main group of starlings were gathering. Unfortunately, the other 7 or 8 birders and I couldn't find it anywhere. However I was determined to find it, so as my mum returned to the relative warmth of the car, I carried on looking. About an hour later I joined a few birders as we checked the trees of gardens on the roadside. None of them could find it but to my surprise I looked through my binoculars and it was perched right in front of my eyes!
As I snapped away with my camera, I looked be…

Birds in Abundance at Church Norton

After waking up, seeing blue skies and it being surprisingly not too cold we made the hour journey to Selsey to go to Church Norton. I was quite pleased to see there had been a Long-Tailed Duck and Slavonian Grebes sighted there recently.

After quickly stopping off at Pagham Harbour Visitor Centre, there was quite a lot of Wigeon and Teal on Ferry Pool as well as a large group of Lapwing. On the feeders by the visitor centre there were a small group of Goldfinch
We then made our way to Church Norton, where with my scope I could see a large group of about 50 Oystercatcher along with around 15 Cormorant. It was also a surprise to see over 100 Brent Geese as last time I visited, a few weeks ago, I didn't see one!
There were also lots of Turnstone which were hidden amongst the waterways of the mudflats and the grasses that were growing on them.There were also quite a few Grey Plover. Curlew where also quite high in numbers as they probed the mud for tiny morsels.
After asking a few …

Half Term Birding and More...

After almost a week back at school, I have finally got round to writing a blog post on what I got up to in the holidays!

One of the days, after hearing that a Great Grey Shrike was showing well at the Old Airstrip at Ashdown Forest I persuaded my mum to take me (and my dog) there. We arrived quite late, at about 10 o'clock. Surprisingly it was still quite misty and as we walked down the path the view was blocked by it.

 After asking a few people where a 'muddy pond' was I finally found it. There were a few birders there, armed with their scopes and cameras, which helped me locate the bird. It was perched on a tree quite a distance away, but with my Opticron scope I got great views. It would perch on a branch or bush for a minute and then dive down and behind the trees, presumably to catch its prey. Once I saw it mob a Wren!

Great Grey Shrikes are also know as Butcher Birds because, unusually, they keep their prey in a makeshift larder. 

Happy with the views I had we walked …

Autumnal fungi

After a busy week at school, and after getting to meet Steve Backshall and Helen Glover at his great new show which was at The Hawth in Crawley on Thursday last week, it was finally the holidays (well a week off anyway!).

As the Autumn takes over with its changing colours and falling leaves the amount of fungi around has increased and over the last few days I have been searching for them at my local parks whilst walking my dog. October, in my opinion, is the best month to go out photographing fungi, as you still have good light until quite late and fungi are in their most numerous in this month. However you can see some fungi all year round!
Every year I try to search for fungi and photograph them. Even though I don't get the best shots as I don't have a macro lens a few bits of kit help me to get some decent photos of them. The first bit of kit I bring is a beanbag, so I can keep my camera still as possible when photographing fungi down on the ground. I also bring a torch whi…
Yesterday morning I spent a day at Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve and Church Norton. After an hour drive we arrived to surprisingly good weather!

Firstly I checked in the Ferry Pool Hide and was quite surprised to see a group of around 100 Redshank with some Lapwing also mixed in. I also realised, as I left the hide and walked towards the harbour it was high tide, which I had never seen before at Pagham and the water was all the way up to the edge of the paths!

After a quick scan across the water with my scope there were a number of Widgeon, Teal and Coot as well as a Shelduck which flew over. I was also quite surprised to hear a loud burst of Cetti's Warbler song which came from the reeds.

We then walked back to the car and made the very short trip to Church Norton. After arriving, I spotted more Redshank as well as lots of Grey Plover. One Whimbrel was showing well as it stood in the island right in front of me. Over the far side of the harbour there were around 50 Cormorant as w…

Brilliant Views in my New Scope!

Yesterday morning, after a change of plan about ringing I decided to spend a couple of hours at RSPB Pulborough Brooks testing out my new Opticron scope that I got for my birthday.

After walking through the visitor centre we headed down to the first hide, a very friendly Robin sat on a branch overhanging the path, surprisingly not spooked by me walking past! From the first hide I spotted a Male Stonechat, perched on the top of some brambles as well as 100s of Canada and Greylag Geese in the distance. The next hide was quite quiet with only a Buzzard making an appearance.

However in the following hide I did spot a Male Kestrel in the distance perched on a post.
From Hanger View, which looks over the majority of the wetland areas I had great views of Widgeon and lots of Lapwing which suddenly rose to the air. Unsurprisingly they had been spooked by a Peregrine Falcon which was sat in the tree next to us.

With my scope I got brilliant views and too add to my excitement TV presenter Naomi…

A Day Birding at Pagham Harbour/Church Norton

Starting off at Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve, we walked to the Ferry Pool hide, which had a single Black-Tailed Godwit and a couple of juvenile Shelduck.

We then decided to drive to the Church Norton car park. Looking over the mudflats there were quite a number of Oystercatcher, Dunlin and also a few more Black-Tailed Godwit. Walking to the severals, an area of scrub that is parallel to the sea, a female Sparrowhawk flew towards me, gliding as it went past. The previous weekend there had been a Wryneck showing well there, but other than a female Blackbird and around 3 buzzards circling there wasn't much else.
Walking back towards the mudflats, I spotted a small group of Grey Plover, some still in breeding plumage. There were also some Ringed Plover, Redshank and some more Dunlin.
I then walked around the mudflats, getting closer views of the Grey Plover and Ringed Plover. 4 Wheatear were flying around as well, one of which I managed to get a photo of.

After having some lunch, we …

A Great End to the Summer Holidays

Yesterday morning I was up early again to do some ringing at Knepp Estate. After walking down to the site, to the sound of calling Tawny Owls, we set the nets up, 3 in fact. One was ideal for Linnets and hopefully one or two Swallows as part of the net was in an open field and there were already some feeding high in the sky. After the nets were set up we did the first net round. I extracted (took out the net) Whitethroat, Blue Tit, Chiffchaff and Blackcap. 
Once I had ringed the birds, suddenly the sky was full of House Martins and Swallow. Hoping a few would go in the net, we quickly changed the tape. And they certainly did! Swarming around the net, we waited in anticipation as some of them perched on the top net shelf. After 5 minutes we did another net round and it was my job to extract all of the birds in that net. It was full of Swallow and House Martin as well as a Blackbird and Chiffchaff. Finally after extracting them all I headed back, my arm heavy with bird bags.

Whilst ring…

A Brilliant Bird Ringing Session!

Yesterday I went bird ringing at Cissbury Ring in Findon, West Sussex. I was quite interested to see what we were going to catch as I haven't been ringing at Cissbury for over a month.

And I wasn't disappointed! Getting there at 6:45, the nets were put up and there were already a lot of birds that had been caught. The first bird that I ringed was a Sedge Warbler, a ringing tick for me which was not bad start to the morning!

Throughout the morning I extracted my first Bullfinch which was a juvenile. I also a ringed a lot of Willow Warbler which were passing through the ringing site, as well as a lots of Blackcap. Other birds that I ringed were Whitethroat, Reed Warbler and Long-Tailed Tit.

Towards the end of the session, the penultimate net round, the other two ringers where checking one half of the nets whilst my trainer and I checked the the other half. After checking them, one of the ringers came over to us saying they needed a bigger bag because a Kestrel was in the net, a …

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

On Sunday I spent a couple of hours at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve as my mum and I were staying in Rye for a few days.

It was quite hot and there were a lot of people walking around so we spent most of the time in 2 of the hides. In the first an Oystercatcher came really close to the hide enabling me to get some photos.

I also finally managed to see Yellow Wagtail, a lifer for me. A small group of them were flying around, calling and then landing right in front of me. There were also Pied Wagtail.

Starling, including a lot of juvenile were feeding on the ground behind the lake and there was also a Little Egret. Hidden amongst the reeds and islands was a Whimbrel and I also spotted a juvenile Sandwich Tern.

As we walked down to the beach a Dunlin flew past, calling, and 4 Sandwich tern flew past behind me, heading out to sea, a nice end to a short visit to Rye Harbour.

A ringing tick and lifer in one day!

Once again on Sunday I visited Knepp Estate to do some bird ringing. After a 25 minute drive we arrived there at 5:00. Once we had looked at some possible net rides we set the nets up, 3 in total with 1 on the edge of the reedbed.

Overall we caught around 50 birds. I ringed quite a number of Whitethroat as well as young Great Tits, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit and Long-Tailed Tit. The highlight for me was extracting and ringing a Reed Warbler for the first time.

Even though we had a hopes up for something different such as a Reed Bunting, surprisingly even though it was perfect conditions for the net next to the reedbed it only caught 2 wrens!

Another excitement, whilst walking to the nets, was seeing and hearing my very first Turtle Dove! Although I didn't get any photos of it I got a good view through my binoculars as it sat on a branch of a dead tree (Thanks to Penny Green for helping me spot it!!)