We’ve had a glorious weekend, with cloudless skies. Yesterday we had poor views of Brambling and Hawfinch at West Dean Woods (no photos there) and better views of Short-eared Owl at Beeding Brooks (too dark, though still no photos), but the Barn Owl failed to show up.
Today we made our first visit of the year to the West Sussex Commons, and were greeted by a chipping Crossbill as soon as we got out of the car at Ambersham. Eventually we found it, and then we went onto the common where there were a pleasing number of Dartford Warblers, including one showy one that almost behaved, posing close, but insisting on hiding its head behind a branch.
The other commons were quieter (we were too late for the Woodlark singing) but it was a great day to be outside.
Sunset over the Downs from Beeding Brooks
A very vocal male Crossbill
Datford Warbler, one of at least 7 in the day
The first reptile of the year: a Slow Worm
We had an offsite meeting on Thursday. Most of the time this would be in a hotel somewhere, and wouldn’t be worth a post, but this was a little different.
The meeting was on No Man’s Fort in the middle of the Solent, so we had a 45 minute boat trip there and back. Sadly the birding was awful, but the place was fascinating (and the meeting was good too).
The Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth
Nearly finished: HMS Queen Elizabeth
Looking back to Porstmouth with Spit Bank Fort in the foreground
No Man’s Fort: our destination for the day
We had a walk to Shoreham Harbour yesterday and back over the Downs, in the hope of adding some birds to the on-foot year list. While we got the hoped-for Purple Sandpiper at the harbour mouth and Greenshank on the Adur, the wind was too strong and the “reliable” Black Redstart and Rock Pipit were sheltering out of sight somewhere. Still, it was a very pleasant walk and the wind made for some nice seascapes.
A day out in Hampshire today, starting at Hayling Island for some Black-necked Grebes, moving on to Weston for the Long-tailed Duck (we didn’t even need to get out of the car for it, but it was asking to be photographed) and then on to Blashford Lakes. A mixed bag there, with failure on a Yellow-browed Warbler, but nice views of Water Rail and a Bittern flew past. Finally we went down to the New Forest for a brief and incredibly distant view of a Great Grey Shrike.
Rather a pitiful amount of snow this week. It’s a sign of the times that this much snow counts as exciting down here.
It wasn’t a great snowman, even before its head fell off, but I think the fox’s final judgement on it was harsh… (paraphrasing from a Bob Rivers Twisted Christmas song)
He’s ginger and his tail is bushy,
And the snowman’s backside is mushy.
He couldn’t resist, oh no:
Yellow snow, yellow snow, yellow snow!
Snow of a different sort today, with a return to the Snow Bunting at Goring Gap, this time on foot. What a difference a bit of sunshine makes.