Thursday, 1 March 2012

Whetstead Gravel Pits (01 March 2012)

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
Friday 2 March.  42 Great Crested Grebes on the sea off King Alfred on the way into work. 

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