Sunday 8 March 2009

Saturday, 7 March 2009, South Coast

Went to the South Coast today with David Campbell. Our target birds were the great grey shrike in the New Forest, the purple sandpipers at Southsea Castle, the red-breasted goose at West Wittering and the white-fronted goose at Tundry pond.

After a 1 hour 45 min circular walk there was no sign of the shrike! We did, however, see a nice pair of Dartford warblers, a pair of grey wagtails and a lovely male hen harrier. The harrier landed, which gave me a chance to get my camera out. I switched on and pressed the shutter. Nothing happened! I'd taken the battery out last night to charge and it was still on the charger at home! I did have spares in the car - half a mile away!

On to Southsea Castle in Portsmouth where we had better luck. We instantly found the six purple sandpipers on the shore at low tide. This bird was a lifer for me and for David, so we spent some time observing and photographing them. They were quite tame and allowed us to get to within a few metres.

Purple sandpiper, Southsea Castle.

After lunch at the local tea rooms and seeing a goldcrest, we pressed on to West Wittering for the red-breasted goose. We were again lucky. We found the goose very quickly amongst the 1,000 or so Brent geese and it was fairly near the front of the mass so it was possible to see it largely unobstructed by the brents. Another lifer for me.

Red-breasted goose, W. Wittering.
At one point it took flight, did a circuit, and landed much further back. I was not so quick to get some flight shots and it was already quite a way away before I got focus lock on it.

Red-breasted goose in flight.
We noticed that there were no reports of the white-fronted geese that day so we decided to try for the ring-necked duck I had seen at Bordon in January. We arrived at the gravel pits but I wasn't sure of the way. We strayed from the public footpath and the quarry owner (no less) chased us in his tractor to tell us off. Our apology was, thankfully, accepted and he then directed us to the pits where the duck might be. It was there, albeit rather distant. After a few minutes we walked back to the car and came home. I had four year ticks (total 131, or 132 including a barnacle goose) and two lifers.
Ring-necked duck.


  1. Hiya - were you the kind photographer/birder at Holmethorpe Sandpits on Sunday 8 March?

  2. Some great sightings there; and what bad luck with the Hen Harrier.

  3. Hi, Tricia, Yes, that was me. I hope that wasn't bad for you in the sense that you'll want to get one of those lenses now! Looked at your blog and your photos are good. Keep at it. Regards, Phil.

  4. Holdingmoments, thanks for your visit and your comments. Yes, it was one those moments with the Hen Harrier when you want to kick yourself. Ah, well. That's life.
    Regards, Phil.

  5. Hi Phil - no it wasn't bad; it was terrible Lol - I'd really love one but I know it would be too heavy to carry about. I can't go for a walk without the camera so.....

  6. Good stuff Phil. Thanks for taking me it was a brill day. David.


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