Wednesday 29 February. Opportunities to see birds on 29 February don't come that often so I was pleased to see 2 Peregrines on Southwick Power Station Chimney on the way home. A pre-roost gathering of about 60 Pied Wagtails by the lock gates were even better.
Thursday 1 March. Having only seen the Radipole Hooded Merganser, albeit also on Sidlesham Ferry, and a very tame one on a boating lake in Scarborough the temptation to try for a potentially better one finally proved too great. With days becoming noticably warmer a wild bird might soon be tempted to leave so I drove to work ready to go mid afternoon if it was seen. Two adult Mediterranean Gulls in Stamner Park were a good start but an anxious morning ensued with no news on the merganser until 12.30pm. I left work as planned but traffic was dreadful and I didn't arrive on site until 5pm by which time the sun was starting to dip. It was a beautiful mild still evening and, surprisingly, I had the place to myself. The light was starting to go and digiscoping became a compromise between shutter speed and ISO with the results a little disappointing. The bird was slowly swimming around the whole time, appeared quite alert, but wasn't actively fishing (it didn't dive at all). At about 5.40pm it became a bit more active lookig around more and I took a short video. After reviewing this I returned to look at the bird but it appeared to have gone. Ten minutes of searching failed to locate and I suspected it had flown off. Very annoying to have misse dit if it had as it had only lifted its wing once while I was watching it. As to its origins, who knows? Provided it doesn't do anything to disgrace itself there would seem a reasonable chance of it being accepted as it seems no worse than some previous records that have been (e.g. the previous Kent bird).
|Hooded Merganser at Whetstead Gravel Pits|