With a reasonable weather forecast I drove southwards to Pulborough Brooks RSPB Reserve this morning. During the drive the clouds darkened and there was the hint of rain in the air but within an hour of my arrival the sun was peeking through and the temperature was very comfortable. My first stop was 'Fattengates' where I joined a few other birders hoping to catch sight of a Firecrest but only a handful of Goldcrests showed themselves as they flitted throughout the pines. I wasn't particularly upset as I had seen one on a 'Patchwalk' at Epsom Common just about a week ago.
As I headed for West Mead hide a Robin provided a lovely serenade. Other sightings within the first 30 minutes included Kestrel, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Skylark, Fieldfare, Redwing, Wren, Green Woodpecker and Jay.
From the hide I added Canada Geese, Pintail, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Lapwing, Starling, Woodpigeon, and a distant soaring Common Buzzard. The hide was quite busy and I was soon joined by a young family with their son and daughter endeavoring to identify everything they could see. As usual it wasn't long before I offered some help and it was great to witness the enthusiasm of the children as they ticked off each species on their handouts.
Outside the hide we enjoyed views of a male Chaffinch busily preening after having taken a recent bath plus a few Long-tailed Tits feeding high in the overhead branches. Further along the trail a couple of very smart looking Bullfinches where feeding in the hedgerow but regretfully didn't want to pose in the open for a photo. As usual the fields where occupied by reasonable numbers of corvids, including Magpie, Jackdaw and Carrion Crows.
As I headed onwards towards the 'The Hanger' a male Blackbird kept close company with me for a while.
This was the view from 'The Hanger' with everything a long way away so no close up photos but I was able to spot Little Egret, Grey Herons, Shelduck, Black-headed and Common Gulls, Pied Wagtail, Coot plus a number of Ruff amongst large flocks of Lapwing when they were disturbed into the air by an overflying microlight. Just as I was thinking of moving on the star bird of the day appeared ........
A female Peregrine Falcon took up her usual perch overlooking the Brooks spying out her next likely prey. She has been a regular here for about five years but I think this is only the second time I have seen her on numerous visits. Her perch was a bit distant for my lens so I have cropped the original shot.
Another Robin kept me company when I stopped for to devour my packed lunch.
With the warmer temperatures it wasn't surprising to find this youngish Adder (Vipera berus) basking at the foot of the hedgerow. One passerby got quite agitated when another photographer explained what he was looking at. Despite us explaining that our only venomous viper species is not naturally aggressive unless provoked she moved on very quickly! Also on the wing today where a few Red Admirals, awakened from their winter hibernation.
Today's tally was 46 species and may have been more if I had bothered to carry the scope with me. FAB.