Friday, 3 July 2015

A Sussex Squacco ... at last

Friday 3rd.  I set out for work and realised as soon as I was halfway down our road that I had forgotten to put my small binoculars in my bag.  Already a bit late it didn't seen worth going back for them, after all it was early July and even after this amazing spring it seemed a safe bet that I wouldn't need them.  Well I got that wrong!  Go back just over 15 years to 10 June 2000 and I set off to visit the Tibetan Plateau (a trip I've yet to blog, watch this space ...).  Unbeknown to me a Squacco Heron was found at Pett and was seem by most of my friends despite being there for just an afternoon and evening, not that I had any regrets (Tibetan Sandgrouse or Squacco isn't really any sort of contest) .  Southern herons were increasing and I felt bound to see one in five years.  The first five years went and the next. A flury of records as the third five years expired had me hoping but the chance seemed to have past us by until Chris Barfield found one at Southease and in quick succession, and knowing my need(!), Matt and Jake phoned to let me know (many thanks guys, very much appreciated as I might not have checked my pager for hours!).  Now I was really regretting having no binoculars, clearly another senior moment.  Should I cycle home, which would take an hour, kit up and drive back to Southease?  Not ideal and neither was cycling there from Falmer although it was doable.  Then I thought of getting a train, it was after all only a km from Souhease station to the bird.  Like old times for me, twitching by train, although it was the first time I had done so with no bins.  Fortunately the birds was on view when I arrived an hour later (only two stops from Falmer but not the most frequent service), and lots of friendly faces who were only too happy to lent me look through there scopes of bins (I think it was 4 of the former and 2 of the latter and I even had tickable naked-eye views when it flew). Brilliant and thanks to all.  It is about 350 in Sussex although I'd probably prefer Least Tern to Hudsonian Whimbrel on the controversial taxonomic states and Ruddy Shelduck, Snow Goose or White-headed Duck to Hooded Merganser or Blue-winged Teal when considering suspect wildfowl.  Very fortunate timing as I'm now away for a few days.

Thursday 2nd.  Turtle Dove but no Water Rails in two hours at Woods Mill from 05:30. Nothing of note walking from Widewater to Lancing Beach and back with Megan.

the Turtle Dove was purring loudly, sad really as I guess it hasn't found a mate
it seemed to be giving it everything it had
a movement near the stream was not a hoped for Water Rail, the water level had fallen a bit since my previous visit so perhaps they were not frequenting it so often?
Wednesday 1st.  Stonechats, Sky Larks and Corn Buntings at Steepdown with Megan but 20 Swifts screaming over the house in the evening stole the show.

Chanctonbury from Steepdown
Cissbury from Steepdown, the rolling downs here are amongst the most scenic in Sussex
Truleigh Hill and Beding Quarry from Steepdown, the latter the one blot on an otherwise almost perfect landscape
Corn Bunting at Steepdown, the best place I know to see them
one of 14 seen on our walk 

Meadow Pipit

Pyramid Orchids near Steepdown
Stonechat at Steepdown
a juvenile was nearby

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