Saturday, 21 March 2009

1st day of spring and Buzzards

Having heard about migrants arriving this week in Sussex I decided to drive 40 miles south to the area around Greatham. My first stop was to park roadside and walk onto Waltham Brooks, an area of grazing marsh with areas of open water, managed by the Sussex Wildlife Trust.

Goldfinch and Greenfinch were calling from a nearby garden. The first sightings were of singing Chiffchaffs, Wrens, Robin, Blackbird and Starlings. I heard Water Rail as the first Common Buzzard flew over with large flocks of Crows and Jackdaws calling from the nearby farmland. After crossing the railway line a pair of Sparrowhawks flew over but too far away for a photo. Reed Bunting and then a male Stonechat briefly perched on a nearby bramble bush. Meadow Pipits appeared out of nowhere and disappeared into the dense grass just a quick. My attention was the grabbed by two more Common Buzzards soaring overhead. I haven’t tried to photograph moving objects with my new Cannon 450D and 70-300mm lens, so with a clear sky, this was an opportunity not to be missed. Auto focus was all over the place but I’m not totally unhappy with the ‘cropped’ outcome.
Common Buzzard
Other sightings were Mallard, Grey Heron, Green Woodpecker, a fast flying Kestrel and another Buzzard as I returned to the car.
With the possibility of Garganey, Little Ringed Plover and hirrundines I visited Pulborough Brooks RSPB. When I checked in at the Info Centre the lady said “I presume you don’t need a map?” – How did she know I’ve been coming here for well over 15 years!


Blackthorn blossom was everywhere, signifying the "start of spring".

I did the clockwise circuit and failed to find Garganey (nor did anyone else that I spoke to) or any hirrundines. I no particular order my sightings were: Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Wren, Robin, Dunnock, Linnets, Nuthatch, Blue & Great Tits, Starling, Crow, Jackdaw, Lapwings, Little Egret (2), Mute Swan, Canada & Greylag Geese, Moorhen, Coot, Mallard, Teal, Shoveller, Shelduck, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, Wigeon, Grey Heron, Redshank, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwits, Common Snipe (12), LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (2), Black-headed Gulls, Common Gulls, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Chiffchaffs, Skylark, Pied Wagtail, Grey Heron, Little Grebe, Pheasant, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Magpie and Blackbird.

Eurasian Wigeon
Arriving at home mid afternoon, while enjoying a welcome cup of tea on the patio, Anita and I watched Blue, Great & Long-tailed Tits, Greenfinch and a female Siskin on the garden feeders with Parakeets flying overhead.

Long-tailed Tit

All in all, despite the lack of two of the 'target' species, not a bad day after all.


  1. Sounds well worth the 40 mile trip Frank. And I never knew about the reserve at Greatham!

    The number of times I driven passed the signpost to "Greatham and Rackham"

    Great pics of the Buzzards!

  2. Tricia, you can walk from Greatham Bridge south to Amberley, where there's a pub, BUT you have to walk back. Check out the Sussex Wildlife Trust website for maps etc.

  3. You did excellent today! Love the Eurasian Wigeon ans what fantatic vulture pictures.

  4. Thanks Kim, I have just seen that you had a special day as well, with more lifers - Congrats.

  5. ...sounds like a fun day with great results. I'd love to move up to a 300mm lens! Great photos of the buzzard.

  6. Very nice, Frank. I haven't visited that area for years. It is now in myu diary as a 'must do' for this year.

  7. A very impressive list of sightings Frank. Lovely photos too, I particularly liked the LTT. Every time you refer to Parakeets I still feel a sense of surprise as they seem such an exotic and foreign bird although I know they are quite a common sight in your neck of the woods. I wonder if they will ever reach this area.

  8. That was a good day Frank. Very nice images of the Buzzard, (which is another one of my future targets to photograph which I haven't managed as yet). Were you using "sports" mode on the camera.?

  9. Kelly. Thanks.

    Graham. If you want company let me know.

    Jan. The LTT just happened to perch quite close & for once didn't seem to notice my presence.
    There is always a chance that the Parakeets will migrate in your direction, they are spreading north & eastwards, albeit slowly.

    Roy. Yes, most of the shots I took were in "sports" mode. Bearing in mind the height of the subject, the results were ok. Not sure how I could have got any more sharpness.

  10. You 450D has the same metering as my 40D, I have been experimenting with "partial" and "centre weighted" metering. I haven't mastered that yet although I am OK with "Spot". Its difficult to know what you need sometimes with nature and wildlife photography as so many different shots and opportunities crop up.

  11. Thanks Roy. I'll have to try those other options (if I remember!) & then compare the outcomes. I've just rechecked & quite a few of the shots were off centre so this may account for lack of clarity. Will just have to practise more!

  12. An Excellent day out i'd say! Those Migrants will be here any day now.

  13. Hi Frank,
    It looks like it was worth doing 40 miles. you saw so many species and the buzzard, you got it well mate!!! A very nice spot, we can feel spring!

  14. Great mix of captures, Frank! I've tried many times this past week to photograph the buzzards in flight with no success.

  15. Warren. I agree, except the weather has changed to cold & wet!

    Chris. Yes particularly as I hadn't planned to stop at Waltham, but glad I did, just for the Buzzards.

    Spookydragonfly. Great to see your connections are working again. The in flight captures were helped because of an open & clear sky PLUS a bit of luck! Keep trying, you will succeed.

  16. That Eurasian Wigeon was picture perfect! Sounds like a fruitful outing!

  17. Thanks Leedra, just as good as many of yours, but not as exotic as Costa Rica!

  18. Hi Shelly. I was in two minds as to wether to include it, but after a minor crop I was pleased. Thanks for the appreciation from an expert. Lol FAB


I hope you enjoyed your visit and I always appreciate your comments and feedback.


Related Posts with Thumbnails