This week brought snow to Britain and Worthing was no exception. In our back garden we had a drift up to half an inch deep. Something of a let down, considering everywhere else seems to have had a proper fall, but it has been just as cold here as in the rest of the country, and that brings birds to us.
There was a significant westward movement of Lapwing on Wednesday and some of them stayed: we had a flock of 44 today, along with a Golden Plover, which is only the second time we’ve had one at home. A few Snipe and a brief views of an uncooperative Barn Owl brightened up a dull Friday afternoon, but our biggest surprise came on Saturday night when our efforts at spotlighting failed to find any waders, but found a couple of Badgers in the field behind us.
Apologies for the quality of the photos: it has been very dark.
A fair question. We haven’t been out much and when we have, the birds have been distant. Sunday was no exception, with a freezing vigil at Horse Eye Level eventually yielding a nice male Hen Harrier and a Marsh Harrier, but not the hoped-for Short-eared Owl. As ever, everything was distant, so the only photo is of some backlit sheep in a reed bed.
The garden is a dangerous place to be today. A male Sparrowhawk is making frequent visits, a Kestrel is knocking about, a Buzzard is a bit farther away (too distant for a decent photo) but best of all a Peregrine has taken up residence for the last few days. A cooperative bird, it flew over calling while I was telling my neighbour to look out for it. Better still, it was carrying its lunch.
A day of strong, bitterly cold north-easterlies was challenging, but didn’t stop us having a good time at Dungeness. Highlights were Glaucous, Caspian and Iceland Gulls, and our first male Smew for a few years.
A day out to Pulborough Brooks RSPB yielded distant views of Little Owl and Temminck’s Stint and a brief flyover Hawfinch, but the common birds were more cooperative, with Snipe feeding in front of the hide and Robins everywhere. Photographing the Robins was tricky as they insisted on coming too close.
A trip out to Eastbourne today, for a look at the wonderfully confiding first winter Black Guillemot that has taken up residence. It’s a cracking bird and really gave us a show, coming incredibly close, fishing and generally being very busy.
One last game drive had almost everything popping up to say goodbye. A Lion stayed awake just long enough to give some nice poses, a new Leopard gave us our 11th encounter, probably involving 6 different Leopards, and the Zebras finally came back down from the hills to add themselves to the list (a herd of 5 is hardly the Masai Mara, but you can see Zebras anywhere).
You can have everything: we had two fantastic evenings with a pack of 22 Wild Dogs, having seen three very distantly before. These animals are fantastic: far more impressive than I had expected and also a huge amount of fun. When you arrive you have a large number of sleeping dogs, with the pups a bit like kids on Christmas morning, desperate to get up. Eventually the adults stand up and the doggy mayhem begins. Finally the pups are allowed to join in, and it gets very silly. Here are a few shots, there are many more to go through when we’re home.