Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Over The Hills & Far Away - Led Zeppelin

It would seem there is a little confusion in some quarters as to the Blog date coinciding with the day reported? Well, simply we are still working a day in arrears to the date shown, which gives me a little space to get to bed at night. With all the travelling of late my return home has often been mid-evening but having posted before leaving the pressure is off.

This morning, the last day of January and my final day to crack the 200 species, started once again with what appeared to be a heavy frost but there was more to come. There were a couple of options to achieve the goal, one being a 'sea watch' at the Bill where it was considered the chances were slim, so it was a return to Holes Bay in Poole Harbour. Reaching the Owermoinge / Broadmayne area, just a few miles outside of Weymouth, the frost was covering everything not just the cars,

but making a brief stop to watch the sun rise over the Purbeck Hill it was likely the hoary coating would be short lived. With 2 roads closed, one with a long traffic light delay, progress was already being hampered but arriving at the Kerry Food Factory close to the bay, the sighs were good. Low tide coupled with little wind and already Little Egret, Redshank, Kingfisher and Wigeon were in the book before arriving at the harbour's edge. Few of the birds were disturbed by my presence except for the

'target' Common Sandpiper

which immediately took to the wing before getting a chance to see it perched. The photographs are from the archive, the lower one showing the sort of view I had of my 200th Species of the Year!

A lovely position to be in but there was more to this day than just reaching the desired figure. Still leaning on my friends for help, it was now a drive to Emsworth in Hampshire to meet up with Paul & Tess Lifton who were lined up to show me around their patch and the chance of a couple more additions. Unfortunately Paul had been 'detailed off' to paint the deck-head in their lounge,

so it was just Tess and I who set out for Warblington Church and the adjoining Cow field in search of the 'long staying' Cattle Egret. She had spent a near sleepless night mulling over the responsibility of finding species number 200 for me, so was well relieved to hear that hurdle had already been crossed. The hour long search was fruitless, despite being aided by a number of other birders who were showing up from time to time, so deciding to cut our losses we took the 30 minute drive to The Burgh high on the rolling hills of the South Downs of West Sussex.

Arundel Castle is the ancestral home of the Duke of Norfolk, who also owns just about every inch of turf hereabouts and from what we gleaned from 3 very knowledgeable local birders has made a right good job of where we were now standing.


On his vast estate, most of which is open to the public, he has planted miles of hedges, trees and very much improved his Pheasant and Partridge shoot. Agree or disagree with the latter, but to start with the whole area is awash with

Grey Partridge a species thought to be in steep decline.

On our visit we must have clocked up at least 50 birds, but that is not all. Again referring to the locals, before his intervention the only joy of this area was the stunning views, since when Raptors have moved in mob-handed with there being no surprise in seeing Marsh & Hen Harrier, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and Hobby in season. There is a Rough-legged Buzzard in residence at the moment and in the past an equally rare Pallid Harrier paid a visit.
We personally saw this Red Kite, Merlin,

Kestrel and Common Buzzard, but there's more. Finches abound along with good numbers of all the common woodland birds, there is said to be a large population of Corn Bunting along with 100 or so Yellowhammer that we also logged. However, the species we had come to see was not showing so on advice we shifted station to

Greatham Bridge at Waltham Brooks where we immediately saw a Short-eared Owl. Agreed this was at long distance, but they all count, and a better view can be had via

these archive shots. With a never before achieved January total of 201 we drove the 10 miles back to the Lifton homestead where for the first time this month I was not in a hurry. Invited to stay for dinner, I enjoyed my first hot food for 5 days, so be careful this 'BIRDING' could get hold of YOU!

As if this tally were not enough, taking a look at the Stat Counter it was found that on this very same day the UK readership alone had reached a magical 30,000, along with 17 other countries in the '3 figure zone' and 3 more just hovering outside!

An ideal opportunity I feel to THANK each and every reader for their support, please continue to follow and pass the LINK on to your Families & Friends.

Num Perc. Country Name

drill down3057375.56%United KingdomUnited Kingdom
drill down25406.28%United StatesUnited States
drill down5481.35%CanadaCanada
drill down4381.08%EstoniaEstonia
drill down4271.06%GermanyGermany
drill down3970.98%AustraliaAustralia
drill down3790.94%FranceFrance
drill down2830.70%NetherlandsNetherlands
drill down2770.68%ItalyItaly
drill down2740.68%New ZealandNew Zealand
drill down2660.66%IndiaIndia
drill down2560.63%SpainSpain
drill down2230.55%BrazilBrazil
drill down1950.48%JapanJapan
drill down1550.38%SwedenSweden
drill down1510.37%BelgiumBelgium
drill down1390.34%Russian FederationRussian Federation
drill down1120.28%PolandPoland
drill down980.24%SwitzerlandSwitzerland
drill down980.24%IrelandIreland
drill down980.24%TaiwanTaiwan
drill down830.21%MexicoMexico


  1. Excellent narrative, and well done on achieving your goal. Thank you for yesterday, I really enjoyed the day. Good company as always...Tess xxxxxx

  2. As ever your company was more precious to me than any bird, the day was so enjoyable especially 'breaking bread' with you and The Winger before heading home. My informants tell me the Cattle Egret was seen twice and had re-located to the very field we searched at the back of the church. You never get them all but if you return home feeling like this, who cares. I'll take each of the kisses, one each over the next 5 days. Thank You again! XX