I made the most of a sunny yet chilly Saturday and headed back to my local RSPB reserve, Pulborough Brooks, for a day of bird spotting.
The feeders near the visitor centre were bristling with activity; coal tits, blue tits, great tits and a nuthatch snaffled peanuts and seed as people walked by. Looking North out of the viewing window of the Visitor Centre, I caught the undulating flight of a green woodpecker as it flew over the building and there was a solitary redwing on the wire fence.
North east towards Jupps View, flocks of redwings lifted from the grassland and robins appeared on every corner, intent on staking out their territory.
At Netley’s Hide there were large numbers of teal and wigeon. A cormorant sat on a distant post, like a creature from a past world. Out to the west, the water had frozen and a couple of goldcrests dangled from the branches of an overhanging willow, their orange crests vivid in the sunlight. A treecreeper appeared so close to the hide that I could see it’s little hooked beak as it shifted up the trunk of a willow.
Suddenly,there was an exclamation and a flurry of binoculars and telescopes, as a short eared owl lifted into view to the North of the reserve, hunting over the grassland. It seemed to play a game with us, sometimes disappearing for a minute or so, before re-appearing in a completely different spot. This is the second time in succession that I have seen a short eared owl at Pulborough and a fellow watcher mentioned that there may be as many as four or five at them at the Brooks.
Reluctantly, I left Netleys and stopped off at Hangar view, where a crowd had gathered to watch the owl. We also enjoyed a wonderful view of a male Peregrine sat rather regally, just a few metres away, his back to the sea of faces watching him.
Further sightings included a bullfinch, water rail, jay and kestrel. But the time I got back to the Visitor Centre the cold had definitely set in, but a hot chocolate revived me for the journey home.