Sunday, 12 January 2014

'Twitching' on the Sussex coast

I am not a 'twitcher'. I'm not even a 'birder'. I don't keep lists of what I see and I don't do 'ticks'. 
I'm just a nature lover who likes watching and taking photos of birds and mammals.
 But today I became a 'twitcher'.............
It was one of those rare days when the three of us (Gina, Mark and myself) had the same free day.
So with Mark as the only car driver, and after much discussion as to where to go, we decided to 'twitch' the long staying Grey Phalarope at Hove.
Only one word for it.........WOW.
What a confiding little beauty. Full winter plumage and showing up close so well that at times my little 300mm lens wouldn't focus. I had been monitoring the bird all week, hoping it would stay until we could get down there, and it did. So just a few of my photos from this morning........
Elaine and Susan were also there, and after a quick catch up and discussion about how the weather was due to turn, we all decided to go for the recently found Glaucous Gull nearby at Shoreham Harbour. I contacted me old mate Luke (who had advised me he was looking out for the gull with some of his mates) and Jan kindly guided us in the right direction.
However we dipped on the huge gull. There were reports coming in that it had been seen at various points along Shoreham Harbour, and we still didn't see it. But it was really nice to finally meet some of the other Facebook Sussex Birders: Paul, Jan and George.
 Paul put us on to some craftily secluding Ringed Plovers on a corrugated roof nearby.
I got three in my photo below, but the final count was eight plus two Turnstones.
By this time, with my newly injured shoulder aching and the cold wind biting, Mark, Gina and I went off to the Carats Café for much needed warmth and hot food. The sky was turning dull, and the chilly wind was picking up, but that didn't deter the surf boarders.....
nor the numerous amounts of Herring Gulls.....
Right outside the café we got a very brief glimpse of a Rock Pipit before it was spooked.....
From Shoreham Harbour we headed for Shoreham Fort. Susan and Elaine had gone on ahead, and they texted me to say there were two skittish Purple Sandpipers there, and that the Glaucous Gull had been seen less than an hour earlier. It was achingly cold by the time we go there, and we couldn't locate the gull nor the Purple Sands. But we did find another Rock Pipit, and with the wind gusting against my camera, and my shoulder protesting, I managed just one poor record shot below...
Walking back to the car park, I saw what I initially thought was a Cormorant perched near the Coastguard hut. As I crept nearer to get a photo, I started to have doubts, so I took a photo anyway with the intention of checking it when I got home. It's a dreadful photo, the wind was battering me and I couldn't keep my lens steady.
So is this a Cormorant, or did I get a Shag at Shoreham Fort ? Heeheehee
From the fort, we headed to Widewater Lagoon. Elaine and Susan were still ahead of us and reported back that a nice group of Red-breasted Mergansers were at the first pool. If this was true, it would mean two 'life ticks' for me in one day.
It was true.
I am a happy Wino.
My photos are dreadful due to the low light, but watching these little lovelies displaying was fantastic. At one point the whole group flew over our heads to settle in to another part of the lagoon.
We also had a nice view of a Little Egret (below) and a solo Redshank.
From Widewater, with the light fading, we decided to go to Brighton Pier to watch the Starlings coming in to roost. No great murmuration photos or sights, just thousands of the birds dropping low over the sea and going straight under the pier.
It was a great day away from London, despite the gloomy weather, but we managed to stay dry and content. It was a great twist to the day to finally put names to faces of some of the Sussex Birders group, and to see Elaine and Susan too.
Great day, great company and the warming alcofrolic Irish Whiskey at the Alfresco in front of the old Brighton Pier, went down a treat. Hic !

1 comment:

  1. Glad you got the Phalarope and sounds like a good day despite your aching shoulder and the dreadful weather...