Saturday, 5 September 2009

Farlington Marshes - A windy walk.

Set the alarm and then overslept but still managed the 2 hour drive to arrive at Farlington Marshes at 10 a.m. ahead of the high tide. Below is a view over the main pool, beginning to fill up with waders (Redshank, Black-tailed Godwits, Knot and a few Dunlin but no sign of any Curlew Sandpipers).

With little to see out on the mudflats apart from Herring & Black-headed Gulls, distant Curlews and Godwits I headed down towards the stream and while checking out the bushes for Blackcap, Greenfinch, Blue Tit, Green Woodpecker and Woodpigeon I also spotted this Migrant Hawker taking a rest.
On the stream were Greenshanks (10+), Black-tailed Godwits, Redshank, Coot, Moorhen, Gadwall, Shoveller, Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck & Little Grebes. Lapwings over the reed beds and very distant Stonechats perched on fence posts. Returning back up onto the seawall path, with the tide now well up there were just a few dry spots for Oystercatchers and Grey Plover to rest.
After re-scanning the main pool and adding Shelduck, Mute Swan plus a fly-over Little Egret I was ready to continue my anti-clockwise walk to search for the Osprey that another birder said was out in the harbour when I spotted this perched Kingfisher. (Unfortunately not close enough for the camera to get a really good shot).
Heading out to the 'point' I added Cormorant before settling down to scan the very distant shingle islands. Well I found a large 'blob' but couldn't honestly say it was the Osprey. While I was delving in my rucksack for lunch a Peregrine Falcon invaded a small group of waders (Dunlin and Ringed-Plover) on a rocky outcrop in the water some 50 yards away. The action was so quick that I only had time for a couple of shots (without even time to check what setting the camera was on!) as it flew away low following the seawall.
If you look carefully you can just make out the head & tail of the Dunlin firmly grasped in its claws that would very soon become lunch.
Moving on towards 'The Deeps' where at least 12 Little Egrets plus a few Grey Herons sheltering in a gully, the wind got much stronger and my cap was torn off my head and ended up in the sea some 12 feet below me and totally out of reach. After this annoying distraction of watching the cap slowly sinking I turned to scan over the rough pasture and located a pair of Wheatear and a single Meadow Pipit.
Out on the sea were at least 15 Great Crested Grebes and a single Common Tern flew low over the water. Continuing my circuit a number of Swallows headed westwards into the strengthening wind and over the salt-marshes a large flock of Starlings erupted into the air.
Heading towards the Information Hut I met another birder who had just seen a Whinchat but had failed to get a photo. We started chatting and I discerned a hint of an 'Aussie' accent. (He had just returned from spending 10 years in Australia and was re-visiting places he birded before leaving the UK so I was able to bring him up to date with local sighting news.) We walked back up along the stream together without seeing anything new apart from a Whitethroat but talking as if we were old friends. Thanks for the company Kevin, hopefully we may bump into each other in the future.
Well the star bird of the day was a choice between the Peregrine and the Kingfisher and I did manage to get some closer shots of the Kingfisher using my digi-scoping set up so you can appreciate those beautiful colours.

With autumn migration underway I will have to return over the coming months. FAB


  1. What a great day Frank; plenty of sightings. Plus a couple I've not seen :(
    Sounds like a perfect day; topped off with the Peregrine and lunch.

  2. Wow I have never seen so many starlings before like that ...that photo totally amazed me. Is the little bird with the blue head a king fisher?

  3. The kingfisher is a little jewel. Glad you got to digiscope it!

  4. Hi Frank. Lovely images, especially the Kingfisher.

  5. Wow! What a productive day...a lot of birds and beautiful shots of them. I'm always amazed at your kingfisher. He is certainly beautiful. Much more colorful than our Belted Kingfishers, he appears to be a bit smaller...not sure though. I hope to some day get a shot as nice as yours. I've never been able to capture one. (Also...pretty cool catching the falcon with his prey.)

  6. Excellent digiscoping with the kingfisher. I hope to buy a more powerful eyepiece for my Nikon ED50 shortly, enabling me to get that little bit closer to the birds with my digiscoping set-up.

  7. Oh boy! You caught some beautiful images on your trip here! I'm not much of a birdwatcher but that's beginning to change after visiting here time after time. I start looking for these critters and such.
    The Kingfisher is absolutely stunning... he looks like he posing for you in that second photo!

  8. A good day out Frank. Really nice shot of the Kingfisher

  9. Nice peregrine action! That kingfisher is cool too, I still havn't got a good shot of one!

  10. Gorgeous kingfisher - and the erupting starlings - was the peregrine about? I always suspect something like that even when I can't find the culprit.

  11. Sounds like you had a really good day out Frank - sigh! Well done on all but the Peregrine and Kingfisher I would love to have seen and "captured". Great to have got that very fast flying Peregrine - well shot!!

  12. Looks like a great day out. Lovely shots..more so if they are digiscoped. It is not easy.

  13. Keith. Pretty good but if I hadn't persisted withthe Kingfisher I might have seen the Osprey. Still you can't always have everything.

    Crista. Starlings were preparing to roost and yes it was our Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) & much smaller than Belted.

    Wilma, Angie & Roy. Thanks.

    Kelly. Yes it's much smaller than your Belted. I need more practice with flight shots but the Peregrine was a case of press & hope so outline was acceptable.

    Emma. Thanks, I actually used my Samsung Compact with a home-made adapter plus 20 - 60w eyepiece (set at 30) on the scope. I do have a 800m photo adapter for the Cannon 450D but didn't think I would have the time to set it up.

    Michele. I'm very happy that you are enjoying and learning from what I post. The KF took 2 dives but rested for long periods on his perch so that made my job easier. Just had to contend with the strong wind!

    Warren. Both totally unexpected so happy to grab whatever I could. It will probably be ages before this happens again.

    Chris P. I should have explained that the Starling flock was growing as they prepared to roost. I didn't see any evidence of a raptor but you never can be sure.

    Tricia. Yes, but it would have been good to have had company all the way round. Sometime soon no doubt.

    The Abbot. Since buying a DSLR I've got out of the habit of regularly digi-scoping but some opportunities are just made for this method.

    Thanks again everyone. Have a good week. FAB.

  14. Love the shots of the Kingfisher, Frank. He's so beautiful. We have Belted Kingfishers here - not nearly as pretty as this one. Good captures! Looks you had a really nice outing (except for the wind). BTW, thanks for your comments on my blog.

  15. A very interesting post, Frank. Wish I could see some of the shorebirds that we don't get down here. Interesting photos of the Falcon. Shorebirds down here get disturbed if any raptor flies overhead but I have never yet seen a raptor even try to take a shorebird here. I think the raptors get plenty of fish and other small sea creatures so don't worry about the birds.

  16. Mona. Windy & wet but that's become the norm for our summer. Still it was a good day out.

    Mick. Interesting observation about raptors 'down under'. Sometimes they are so quick you may have missed the action!

  17. What a great place to visit Frank! Starlings look very impressive when they gather in such large numbers and your photo illustrated that well.

    How great to get the Kingfisher, I haven't seen one for a long time and not at all since I've had the camera. I remember when I first saw one I was amazed by how small they are, I had always imagined them to be much bigger.

    Bad luck about the cap! I'm afraid the thought of the surprised expression on your face as it went did make me smile though ;)

  18. Hi Jan. Although it's 1.5 hours away it's always worth a visit. During winter the 'infield' will be covered in Brent Geese plus lots more waders at high tide. Any species, however common, in large no's is always a delight to see.
    Kingfishers tend to migrate towards the coast thro' winter so keep your eyes peeled.
    The cap came all the way from Cape May so I'm not sure it will ever be replaced. First I swore (quietly) then I thought it's only a cap...but!!! And I got a severe ribbing when I go home. FAB


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


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