The bastard Maltese failed to shoot one that was almost purring – if that’s not too cat-like a word – somewhere out the back of my brother’s place near this Sussex Wildlife Trust reserve. I’m shocked at not having seen the species since Otmoor in 2009 but not so at not hearing one since 2003. Regardless, the sound is that distinctive, it’s unmistakable.
I scurried for my binoculars in a vain hope of maybe picking the bird out of the trees round about. It kept calling but was hard to locate until I noticed an obvious dove-like shape a little away from the source of the sound. Are the birds ventriloquial? Just a few seconds were sufficient to savour this individual’s barred cinnamon markings before it flew off.
Church Norton at Pagham, on the other side of the county, was my target for Mediterranean gulls on Monday. I’m more surprised than shocked at not having seen them, in the same place as it happens, for three years; how time does fly. The tide was too far in to provide the gulls or much of anything else, apart from little ringed plovers at Sidlesham.
On a whim I motored to Titchfield Haven for my first serious visit in over ten years. Stop number one was the tearoom for a scone before shelling out £3.90 to get on the reserve.
Money well spent. A few minutes in the Meon Shore Hide were sufficient to log year bird 182. Three Meds roosted on one of the farther scrapes. They were also a first for Hampshire. The weekend was turning out good for that: an evening stop at Cheesefoot Head on the Friday had delivered corn buntings. And that species was also new for my West Sussex list at Cissbury Ring the day after.
To round off Monday, I speed-visited another Wildlife Trust reserve, in Wiltshire. The new site of Langford Lakes makes a handy final stop up the A36 before Bath and Bristol. It doesn’t set any year lists alive but kingfisher and little egret were new to the county for me.
The 2014 list is also moribund today as abnormal thunder, humidity and downpours are keeping me in. how much weirder does the weather have to get before we start doing something about climate change?