Saturday, 1 February 2014

1st February - Farlington Marshes

I met up with Ian at Farlington on a day when strong winds, heavy showers and a very high spring tide was due, it was also the morning after a night of heavy rain.  We set off along the sea wall walking through puddles, while looking across the Hay Field you could see many flooded areas.

The tide was rising, and the Brent Geese were already feeding in the fields, and more passed over us coming in from the sea.  The wind was picking up so the chance to see the Bearded Reedlings was not good, and it was probably going to be the same for the Short eared Owl reported during the week.

We walked around to the point and picked up a Peregrine low over the water.  It settled on the island that was very quickly being covered by the tide.  This is an attempt at a digi-scope picture with my phone held to the scope eye piece, not the best photography I have posted but you can see it is a Peregrine sitting to the left of the rocks sticking up.

We then experienced all forms of weather.  First the sun, then a complete rainbow, then rain and finally horizontal hail.  We toughed it out as did the Peregrine.  Waders were now flying around looking for any patch of land to roost on, the tide rising fast.  They even tried to settle on the island with the Peregrine but quickly decided against it.

The falcon then took to the air, and flew up gently into the sun.  It climbed quite high, then turned, pulled in the wings and shot like a missile back down, then lowe over the water scattering a flock of waders, as it pulled up we could see it had taken a small wader probably a dunlin, it then flew back to what remained of the island to eat its catch.  With the tide now almost covering the island it flew off still carrying what remained of its meal.  Who needs cheetahs on the Masai Mara, when you have a top, top predator displaying its skills like this?

The tide was now very high and the waders were pouring over the sea wall to find dry land to roost.  Out in the harbour any dry land was now covered.  The waders, Knot, Dunlin and Grey Plover put on a spectacular show.

They were picking out islands within the pools but would not settle and would be up and away almost as soon as landing.

On one of the panics and flock flying off I picked up a small falcon flying below the flock, it swerved in but failed to catch anything, from the size and tail length it could only have been a Merlin.

The waders continued to put on a wonderful show, and another Peregrine appeared, this time a large bird probably an adult female.  We watched her zip across the marsh, and attempted to knock down a Brent Goose, which just dropped to the marsh to evade the lunge.

The wader show is emphasised by the flashes of white created by the turning  of the birds, flashing the white undersides.

This is the upper side.

Then as they all turn together the white under side flashes in the winter sun.

You can also see this in the video.

The action was all around us, and out on the sea large flocks were wheeling around against the battleship grey sea.

We decided to walk on, and stopped to watch the amazing number of Shelduck that were all over the fields, joined by many Curlew.  From one of the wildlife counters who were attempting to count the birds on the marsh the number of Shelduck was 334.

The weather then returned, and we sat with our backs to the wind, rain and hail, the wind was so strong it was whipping spray off the sea creating a mist that was quite strange.  The wind and rain eased so we decided to make our way back to the relative calm of the car park.

25th January - Sidlesham

We spent the weekend once again at the Crab and Lobster in Sidlesham.  The Saturday morning we had a walk down to Church Norton and then on to Selsey.  There wasn't that much about, and the tide was well out.

A Little Egret fished in the creek as we set off

The trees along the footpath were covered in lichen, which looks quite beautiful

The teasels were covered in Goldfinch as we approached but flew off with the tinkling calls ringing out around us.  The heads of the teases though looked lovely against the rain drop covered bushes.

We took a different path and ended up at Church Norton where there were Firecrests in the trees.  We walked on, and passed an RSPB van that we did not realise was carrying the adult Glaucous Gull.  The RSPB had decided to take it into care, and unfortunately it died the next day.

The sea was a long way out, but one adult Red-breasted Merganser was quite close in, and allowed us to get close by walking down the beach to the sea.

We went as far as East Beach, stopped for a drink then headed back.  The tide was now starting to come in, and the groynes were getting covered, but the Herring Gulls didn't care as they perched on the posts.

A little past the beach houses a Red Admiral flew past us, a sure sign of how mild it was.

At Church Norton we walked to the footpath we had come down, and passed a field that had about a thousand Brent Geese in it.  As we approached they started to walk away from us, and then they took to the air, and flew to the back of the field.  There is something abouit geese in flight.

As they flew back their shape looks quite spectacular.

We made our way back to Sidlesham.  We decided to walk to the north wall after changing to wellingtons, but as we did the wind started to pick up , and the skies darkened so we decided to turn back.  It was very quiet on the wall though.  

Back in the pub, the rain came down, but we missed out on the strong winds and possible tornadoes that hit elsewhere.