Winter is coming!

A walk up the downs on Saturday turned up a surprise, when I flushed a bird off the path along the down top behind the house.  It looked a bit wrong, but I thought it was just one of the common migrants that have really tailed off in the last week.  After waiting for Karen to catch up we walked carefully on and found it again.  We then spent a few minutes inching up on it, not knowing what we were looking at.  Finally it became clear: a Snow Bunting, about a month earlier than an early bird, and in completely the wrong place (we see them on coast shingle in Sussex, not grassy down tops).

Typically I didn’t have my good camera, just my compact, but with a bird as confiding as a Snow Bunting you can still get something.

Ssssimply sssplendid

We’ve had a small Grass Snake in the garden of late, but over the last couple of days, it turns out we have three: on small, one tiny and one adult about 18 inches long.

We were only joking

This morning Karen and I were joking about the tiny patch of everlasting pea just down the road.  It’s a favourite plant of the Long-tailed Blue and we were wondering whether we would be able to see the “inevitable” Long-tailed Blue from the garden when it turned up.  On our way out for a walk this afternoon we checked the pea and unbelievably there was one there.  It hung around for a while, long enough for us to discover that when it flew you could indeed get it on the house list.  Later on, Karen also got a view of an utterly knackered Common Blue.  Two new butterflies for the house in a day!

At home there was a single Slow Worm and a beautiful and tiny Grass Snake under the roofing felt.

The Downs were a shadow of last week, with only one Spotted Flycatcher compared with over 20 last week.  The bird of the day, a brief view of a Goshawk eluded the camera, but a pair of kronking Ravens gave us a bit of entertainment.

Dirty Twitchers

After a weekend of walking and local birding last week and some walking yesterday, today we had a major change: a twitch at last.  We went off to Farlington Marshes to see the Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, our first lifer of the year (excluding the very plastic-seeming Baikal Teal from May).

A challenging bird, it favoured a large hawthorn and flitted from one side to another, spending most of its time out of sight and when it did appear it was largely where we weren’t.  Even when we saw it, it was brief and blocked.  Still with some patience and a bit of time it finally gave some reasonable pictures.

Tops and bottom

On Sunday we walked over the down tops to Steyning Rifle Range and then on to Anchor Bottom, down the Adur and back over Lancing Ring.  This was largely aimed at finding some butterflies – a Clouded Yellow on the way proved to be our only one, there were a couple of Brown Hairstreaks at Steyning, and Anchor Bottom had loads of Adonis Blues flying over a bank full of Autumn Lady’s Tresses.  While there, a White Stork flew over, heading south.  Down the river there were three Common Sandpipers and a couple of Greenshank, and at Lancing College we “relocated” the Stork on a playing field.  It was clearly ringed, so obviously one of Knepp’s.  The surprise came later in the evening when the rubbish pictures of the bird in flight showed no ring on it.