Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Woodcock and Kingfisher

Yesterday we wandered the southern part of the Obs reporting area (Oasis, St Georges bushes, Elms, Gullies) searching for woodcock and were very successful finding over 60. Today we repeated the exercise this time searching the northern half of the reporting area (Newdowns, and the tree lined fields north towards the 100 acre field up to the edge of Prince’s GC).
It was slow at first with only 4 or 5 woodcock being seen around Newdowns new pool (next to Princes GC reservoir) but in the trees going north of there the woodcock came thick and fast.  With the sun shining and the Canon in hand I was hopeful of some images but unlike yesterday where the woodcock, once flushed, flew in a circle around us today they simply flew off, almost invariably away from where I was and always keeping the trees between me and them.
Of the 40 odd woodcock we saw the only shots I managed were from the birds flushed from the Pines that line the northern edge of Princes golf course:

Also being flushed with the woodcock were snipe – we saw 15-20 of them but and whilst these did fly out on my side of the trees my skill with the camera was such that I failed to get a shot.
Having the camera at the ready did pay dividends as a merlin flew past and this I did manage to lock onto though it was very distant by that time.

We had a good smattering of the normal hedgerow birds – blackbird, redwing, song thrush, green and gt spotted woodpecker, chaffinch, green finch and there were a lot of great tits. By way of variety we also found around half a dozen goldcrests in the pines alongside Princes.
The fields up near the point were mainly snow covered but on the exposed ridges the snow had been blown off and was frequented by lapwing and golden plover; at one point the latter were so preoccupied with feeding that we walked past ~ 180 of them at a distance of no more than 50 yards. A sign they are feeling the strain?
On the walk back a mippit flew past and we were joking that it was the first mippit flock we seen today when Ian spotted another on the deck just beyond a robin. A closer scan of the field revealed about 60 of them! I wonder how often we just wander past these inconspicuous little brown jobs only noting those that take flight as we approach?
Back  in the warmth of the Obs and after a welcoming cup of coffee Ian and myself were invited to a members house to see the kingfisher that fishes in the stream/drainage dyke that marks their garden boundary. The dyke itself is frozen solid but an area under the perch they have erected is freed from ice every morning and the bird spend a lot of the day there.
When we arrived the bird was already on the perch and although it flew off a couple of times it returned quite quickly to resume its watch of the open water. We were told it had already caught 6 small fish that day!

Kingfisher - though you probably had worked that out.
So a superb hour with all the comfort of home and all thanks to M and N.


  1. That sounded like one superb days birding :-) very envious of that lot! especially being able to photograph the Woodcock.

  2. A great winter day birding Steve.

  3. Sounds like a dream day to me Steve, love that Kingfisher so jealous.

  4. Wel done getting any of the Woodcock in flight and nice Kingfisher pic, another bird that is a challenge to get a good pic of. sounds like this one was lucky to have somewhere to fish.