Monday, 22 April 2013

Long-eared Owl and Bonelli's Warbler

Birding doesn't get much better than this.

I had seen the reports of the Long-eared Owl close to the  Pagham Harbour RSPB Visitors Centre but had not expected it to be there for a second day. However, with no other plans I decided to head off in that direction and see what was about. First stop was the north wall. Perhaps I could get that picture of a Cetti's Warbler that I have been chasing for so long.

Cetti's were singing but not showing so I had to make do with an obliging Sedge Warbler.

Sedge Warbler

Sedge Warbler

The waders and ducks have mostly moved on but there were still a few Black-tailed Godwits about. It would be nice if they hang around long enough to see them in full summer colours.

Black-tailed Godwit - Needs a few more weeks for full Summer plumage

And there were a few Swallows collecting mud from the Horse field and sunning themselves on the fences.


Looking a bit wind swept

When I eventually moved on to the Visitors Centre I was not expecting too much. If the Long-eared Owl was still there it would probably be in the middle of a thick bush with just its ears or eyes showing. They never sit out in the open.........

but this one did

A once in a lifetime opportunity

When I arrived the owl had its eyes closed but I still managed to take over a hundred pictures. Then it opened them and I took another hundred pictures. They are all very similar and it was a complete waste of time but you just felt the need to capture the moment. Or as it turned out hundreds of moments. The Owl seemed to be totally unconcerned by our presence, about 30 foot away on the path, and we were able to watch it like this for a couple of hours.

 I moved on to the car park at Church Norton thinking I would have a quick look around for any migrants. As I sat in the car eating a sandwich I noticed a couple of the local birding grandees hurrying by. If it was worth them breaking into a sweat then it must be interesting. If in doubt follow at a discreet distance.

Surly the day couldn't get any better - but it could, they had their scopes on a Bonelli's Warbler. I could see that it was not one of your normal run of the mill warblers but I would not have had a clue without their expertise. There was some discussion as to it being a Western or an Eastern Bonelli's but I was not really to bothered. Bonelli's was good enough for me.

No great pictures this time. It was too far away and did not hang around for long but at least I got some record shots.

Confirmed as a Western Bonelli's Warbler

Non stop feeding and very fast moving

 The bird was later confirmed as a Western Bonelli's Warbler a rare vagrant to this country. I will probably have to go back to Pagham harbour tomorrow just in case it returns. There is always a better picture waiting to be taken.


I went back the next day but did not get to see the bird again. I have had to resort to tidying up the best of my record shots.

First picture above with obstructing vegetation removed

How much tampering with the picture is acceptable?

1 comment: