Wednesday, 9 February 2011


My walk today began with a close encounter with a Cetti's Warbler alongside the mill at Brooklands. In fact it was the closest one i've ever had. It began with the trademark burst of song which they are rightly famous for, which came from the tangled undergrowth right along side me. I stopped and looked and the bird immediately appeared in the top of the brambles about four feet away, it took no notice of me for quite a few seconds until I tried to take my camera from it's bag, then it flew into the lakeside reeds. If only i'd had my camera ready, how many times have I said that! This was one of two seen or heard today after hearing nothing from them all day yesterday.

My second encounter was at the entrance to the small wood by the river where I came across this Pheasant(below). It ran off into the woods in true Pheasant fashion but I managed to relocate it and get a couple of pics. I've never seen a Pheasant this colour before. In the dull morning greyness it appeared all black, but as the pictures show there is some neck colour, an almost Starling like effect. I'd be interested to know if this is a common colouration, I can't find any reference to it in my books.

What a difference a day makes. After yesterdays glorious blue sky and air of promise today seemed just the opposite. No soaring Buzzards seen, and the sky seemed smaller than yesterday, I suppose it is in a way, due to the low cloud base, but I hadn't noticed it so much before.
Anyway, here are a few of the small highlights.

Four Redshanks along the river. A Sparrowhawk weaving low through the sunken marsh. A Song Thrush singing it's heart out along the edge of the sunken marsh. No less than thirty two sleeping Pochard in the SW corner of Abbey Mead lake. Good numbers of Redwings in the east scrub, finishing off the remaining few berries. A drumming Gt Spotted Woodpecker along the Brook House entrance track, where I found just one Siskin today. A Goldcrest along the southern path adjacent to Abbey Mead. The Heronry by the river, their collective voices sounding almost tropical from high in the treetops. A flock of over forty Teal circling the creek before dropping down out of sight behind the trees. And a couple of Bullfinches whose soft calls didn't seem to match their stunningly loud colours.

When I got back to the small wood I still had some time to spare so I went back in and made my way back to the river's edge. The tide was as low as I think i've ever seen it and with an uninterrupted view to the Downs as well, it's a great place to just watch. I found an old builders bucket in the edge of the trees, no doubt washed up there on a particularly high tide. This made a reasonably comfortable seat when turned upside down and there I sat for half an hour, during which time I added Greylag Geese, Kestrel, Little Grebe and Lesser Black-backed Gull to my mornings list. Then three Shelduck flew in, they approached from the north, their striking plumage showing up really well against the dark hills before they turned towards the river and landed right in front of me, allowing a couple of somewhat dark pictures. Finally, just as I was leaving, a flock of about forty to fifty Lapwings flew up from the river somewhere downstream, something must have spooked them, maybe the Peregrine. I noticed straight away that there were some other waders in amongst them which turned out to be three more Redshanks who were calling loudly. The whole flock headed upriver before turning back, flying past me and returning to where they came from. A good end to a morning that gave me no new year ticks but a great total of 51 species in all. I don't know what my February total is at the moment, i'll try and catch up on my next post.


alan woodcock said...

Hi Phil,I saw Pheasant this morning in the same place,a very interesting looking bird,perhaps a hybrid.

Warren Baker said...

Your racking up those species this year phil :-)

I had a Black Pheasant a few years back, a very nice sight it was too !

Chris said...

What a great day you got Phil and what a strange color pheasant!!! I love your shelduck shot a lot and hope ours will come back soon... yeh we have some pairs breeding in the peninsula right above Reykjavik ;-)

Ken. said...

Hi Phil.
Great shot of the Shelduck. The Pheasant looks like a melanistic phase. Good record shot of it.

Paul said...

Hi Phil, nice unusual colouration of a pheasant there! Is it difficult to capture a pic of a Cetti's then? I was on your patch back in December(talking to a birder named Eddie)and 2 Cetti's landed in a bush in front of us, I did get a photo of one of them too. Lucky Eddie was there to ID them for me, because I didnt know what they were at the time!

ShySongbird said...

Another good day out Phil, I've never seen a Cetti's Warbler but I don't think they are common in this area.

The black Pheasant does look odd but if you google it you will find quite a lot of info.

The Shelduck is very striking, nice photo too.

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Can't say I've seen a Pheasant like yours , but a few years ago , we used to see an all bottle green specimen regularly up on the Greensand Ridge .

Frank said...

Your Pheasant is a dark hybrid (Black Pheasant is endemic to Asia) so not unusal to see these feral forms throughout the UK. I often see good no's in Norfolk.