Sunday, 21 September 2014

20th September - Pagham & Warsash

Time for a break and the chance to find some real water birds, I headed to Pagham Harbour to meet up with Ian, and hopefully find some interesting birds.  It was very still and slightly misty, but not cold.  On arriving at in the car park I could hear the call of a Great Spotted Woodpecker, and walked around to the discovery zone to see on sitting in the tree behind the feeders.

We walked the path to the outlook over the road to the ferry pond, with the still conditions the water looked like a mirror, and it was perfect conditions for searching for waders.  Unfortunately all the waders seemed to be at the back of the pond.  There were six Spotted Redshank, five Green Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper, Snipe and a Greenshank.  Closer in though were five Black-tailed Godwits, one of which was still showing some breeding plumage.  The still water making for some lovely reflections.

At the back of the pond was a Buzzard, that suddenly realised a young rabbit was about.  The Buzzard made several attempts to catch the rabbit, but the rabbit managed to get away, but stupidly did not head for the available cover, and finally the Buzzard got it right and stayed with its prey until it was obviously dead.

Also at the back of the pond were four Wheatears seen on the fence posts, and a Stonechat.

A young Peregrine flew across the pond, and did not seem to disturb any of the waders.  We watched it fly away and out over the the aerial where it upset a few Starling but made no effort to hunt.

From the ferry we drove down to Church Norton.  A walk around the church yard only found a few Chiffchaffs and a Robin, it was very quiet.  Out in the harbour the tide was still high, and large numbers of Oystercatchers and Curlew could be seen on the islands.

We made our way around to the spit, and then set up by the metal works.  Immediately we saw a Kingfisher on the metal bars.

Turnstone were sitting on the wall, and as I scanned through them I noticed another Kingfisher beyond the turnstone.

The Kingfishers were very mobile, and we saw one catch and eat a fish.  One Kingfisher would fly closer to us on to the bank, but as I went to take the picture it flew off.

As the tide fell, the waders appeared, a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper being the pick of the bunch, but too far off for a picture.  With the falling tide large flocks of Wigeon flew in, and with them a few Pintail.  A single Sandwich Tern flew through, and a Wheatear dropped down in front of us very briefly.

Walking back we stopped around the bushes, a juvenile Green Woodpecker sat on a post, but apart from a Willow Warbler there was nothing else of interest.

Back at the visitor cntre we had lunch and discussed where to go next, the North Wall or Farlington, but news of a Wryneck at Hooks Links in Warsash changed those ideas, and we set off there.

When we arrived we were informed that the Wryneck was showing well, but had been disturbed by a dog on the beach.  Wryneck has been my bogey bird, I have twitched many, but never managed to see one, I have stood looking at bushes and grassy banks many times and nothing has ever appeared.  Was it possible today could be the day.

We arrived at the site and there was nothing there, the words "it was showing well" ringing in my ears.  We had plenty of time and we settled in to wait and see.  A Peregrine flew over, and circled up into the sun, and then dropped in attack mode by missed and then flew off.

I could hear Dartford Warblers calling, and eventually a juvenile appeared from within the gorse.

There were in fact two Dartfords present, but still no sign of the Wryneck.

A Kestrel flew along the line of the gorse, hovering in search of dinner.

We debated walking up the beach, and then coming back in the thought it might come out back onto the grassy area.  Then I saw a bird fly out of the gorse on to the shingle.  I walked a little closer, and flushed what could only be the Wryneck, but it flew back into the gorse.  We waited again, and was finally rewarded when it flew into a clump of bramble on the beach.  The first pictures I took were over exposed due to the pictures of the Kestrel. Fortunately I realised and was able to get these shots.

What a beautiful bird, about the size of a Song Thrush, but with exquisite markings in different shades of brown and grey, from behind the dark brown stripe on the back would change thickness in the light.  It hopped around looking for food, but was ever watchful turning the head in the fashion that gives it it's name.

Then it flew back again, and was lost in the gorse.  I was elated, at last a real live Wryneck, and I had managed to photograph it too, I had a big smile on my face, but then Ian found it again at the bottom of the gorse bush, and it was clearly feeding in a rut in the grass.

It was distant, but the view in the scope was excellent.  But then a jogger came by, and despite attempts to alert him, he ran straight past the bird and it flew away over the gorse and out of sight.

We looked for it, but could only find this Wheatear

That was it though, a very successful day, at last a Wryneck, so we set off back to the car, and into the Rising Sun for a celebratory pint!  Fantastic!

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