From Seaford to Selsey the seascape has had a new feature for the last few years, in the form of the Rampion wind farm. It dominates the view offshore from Shoreham and Worthing and has dominated the view north of our house as well, as the cable connecting it to the national grid runs behind us.
Yesterday, after a 10 mile walk up to Cissbury Ring, with good views of Rampion 8 miles offshore, we went over to Brighton and took a boat trip to see the turbines close up. At 80 m tall to the hub, and 140 m to the blade tip, they’re an impressive sight.
Missing out on Beluga was one of the few disappointments of our 2016 trip to Alaska. We never expected to see one in Britain, but this afternoon we dashed off to Gravesend to see the whale that has taken up residence in the Thames. After a couple of hours we were having a Moby Dick afternoon, with a fruitless search for a white whale, but eventually it showed itself. We got some decent views, but it was never properly cooperative, although we eventually got some pictures (it is a whale, honest – not a lump of polystyrene). More of a surprise was a Manx Shearwater flying up and down the Thames.
Ortolan Bunting has been a bogey bird for some years. I’ve never been near one in the UK and I’ve unknowingly driven past them in Spain and Greece, only to be told later that I had missed one.
This week has seen an influx into the south coast, but typically they have been flyover birds or birds that vanished immediately, so couldn’t be twitched. An afternoon in the right habitat on Friday produced nothing at all, so I was beginning to despair again. On Saturday morning, though, a bird had stayed overnight and was hanging around near Portsmouth, so off we went.
It was still there when we arrived, but was an example of why the birds are so difficult: despite the fact that we knew where it was to within a few feet in a field with short cover, it remained invisible until it was flushed, whereupon it perched up on a hawthorn and showed well. Bogey bird no more!
After a quiet couple of weeks, autumn happened yesterday, with Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher and Redstart in the field behind us. All too distant to photograph, but a couple of Lesser Whitethroats in the garden were a bit more cooperative. Out and about today we saw our first Wasp Spiders on Thorney Island.