A frustrating morning, where we wasted an hour looking where Birdguides said a Snow Bunting was, instead of the location we would have gone had we not known “better”. Fortunately it was waiting for us when we finally got there and was as approachable as this species normally is.
The Purple Sandpipers at Shoreham Harbour gave us the slip again, but the Black Redstart is always worth a look. Finally we went over to Ashdown Forest, where Common Crossbills cooperated.
Off to Newhaven today to see the Hume’s Warbler that has apparently been around since last year. Eventually we got a decent, but not stellar view. Then on to Shoreham Harbour for another failed attempt to find Purple Sandpiper. Rock Pipits and Guillemot showed well, though. Brooklands gave us our first Sanderlings of the year. Finally we went to Beeding Brooks for a go at the very photogenic Short-eared Owls. A view of a distant bird lasting maybe a couple of seconds was not what we were hoping for.
It was time for a long overdue clean of the bird feeders today, so I sat and scrubbed on the doorstep on the patio. I wasn’t that surprised that the Long-tailed tits still made regular visits to the remaining feeders, only about 4 m away, as they are just plain cheeky. I was a bit more surprised when a Magpie came down. My status as irrelevant was confirmed when a Fox appeared at the end of the garden, gave me a look and then walked across the lawn in front of me and went through the hedge.
The year has started birdily. A day out, but not a bird race, on the 1st got us 97 species, although nothing to photograph apart from a Robin who was just not quite brave enough to take food from me. On Saturday we caught up with the superb Black Redstart at Shoreham, again in rubbish light, and on Sunday we had a jaunt to Rye Harbour and Dungeness. Dunge was rubbish, but Rye was good, the start birds were three Twite. We only saw them well almost at dusk, hence the rubbish picture. Today’s star bird was a Sparrowhawk: it’s taken 123 species to get one.
All that and a badger from the back window on Saturday night makes it a good start to the year.