Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A Whiter Shade of Pale - Procol Harum

It would be true to say that I turned Paul & Tess on to 'birding', albeit they had something of an interest before that. On a visit about 6 years ago they made the suggestion that I might like to visit Farlington Marshes as they too enjoyed the walk, and even thought they were less well versed in the subject we agreed on a plan to make it a little more interesting. A slight adjustment to the usual 'day list' excursion, we each took a guess as to how many species would be seen on the day and on that occasion Tess won. At breakfast the following morning I asked what was on the days agenda and almost as one they said "the same again", this time visiting Pagham where Paul took the trophy.

It was almost a foregone conclusion then that today we would embark on another such day, and while getting ready the talk was almost exclusively about an elusive Cattle Egret that was still a 'GB Lifer' for them both, despite a number of searches already. By the time we were ready to leave the rain was at full pelt, the day list had reached a dozen and it would take more than a downpour to deter us. At the lower end of the market I had decided on a guess of 61, while Tess said 73 and the Winger 81.

Among those already on the list was Wood Pigeon, and as we drove along the narrow road towards Thorney Island, West Sussex the sight of a small white Heron among a few Cows had me yelling STOP!

Jumping out into the still heavy rain Iran back down the road to check it out and sure enough it was the

Cattle Egret. OK, a little distant but in such circumstances who cares? A Marsh Harrier was also seen at this site.

Given the conditions I felt confident of a win but by the time we reached Ivy Lake the number was increasing in leaps and bounds with Coots aplenty,

Great Crested Grebe easy to see,

Common Terns feeding all over the lake and a couple of

Wrens popping out of the bushes. In addition Warblers were making a show as Blackcap, Whitethroat, Willow and Chiffchaff went into the log, while a Cetti's Warbler was heard but not allowed according to the Lifton Rules Book.

At Pagham both large Woodpeckers were recorded along with Little Ringed and Grey Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Pied Flycatcher, Stock Dove, Wheatear,

about 200 Lapwing, Sedge & Reed Warbler, 2 x Green Sandpiper with bonus fly overs coming by way of Lesser Redpoll and Raven.

Nipping round the corner to the tiny village of Church Norton on the lip of Pagham Harbour, Chichester Cathedral could be seen peeking through the gloom a couple of miles away.

Among others Whimbrel and Curlew were numerous as were Redshank, Dunlin, Ringed Plover but we could only locate singles of Kestrel, Goldcrest and the Little Stint we had learned about earlier, but

what was that white 'blob' on the distant mud bank? Through the binoculars it sent hearts racing as it looked every bit like an immature Glaucous ,or other, white-winged Gull. Closer inspection through the 'scope didn't change our direction, but as it moved a little closer it reveled a long down-curved bill.

After a good deal of waiting it was seen to be a leucistic Curlew and what was to be my 'bird of the day'.
Here with a comparison Eurasian Curlew we all agreed we had not seen the likes before.

Sea Kale

Back at Chichester Harbour the Starlings were gathering as we clapped eyes on a Cetti's Warbler followed by 18 Greenshank, a Kingfisher, Sandwich Tern, Knot, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Common Sandpiper, Pochard, 3 Wigeon (yes Wigeon), Garden, Stonechat and Common Gull among others

as these 2 Mute Swans made tempting targets for the camera.

On the way back to the car, the drizzle started again, as we jammed into a Sparrowhawk searching out its supper and although we had 'heard' one earlier, 2 Pheasants sat upon a farm gate qualified for log entry.

With Prime Rib Beef and tomato sandwiches for lunch accompanied by a huge chunk of Paul's own made Fruit Cake and lashings of coffee, it had been a great excursion. The day tally reach what we considered to be a magnificent 89 making the Winger once again the winner and me the 'drag arse'. It's a bloody stupid game anyway, and I'll retrieve my dummy from behind the TV tomorrow!

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