My first trip was to Southsea, Hants, on the 7th of the month. The journey to the coast didn't look too promising, with rain at first, but on nearing Portsmouth, the sun came out, right on cue.
My first port of call was Southsea Castle, where the rocks in front of it are always a good spot for Purple Sandpiper, at this time of year. The tide was just starting to recede, exposing the seaweed, just right for the Sandpipers to forage for food.
I wasn't disappointed, there were five there, busy searching, but also dodging the waves that were still breaking on some of the rocks.
I have always found this species of bird to be very obliging, in that you can get fairly close to them for photographs, which is a bonus, as they are small birds to start with.
From the castle it was then the short walk onto the common across the road, to the flooded grassed area, brought about by the recent heavy rain, where a large flock of gulls had gathered, to rest in the strong westerly wind, that was blowing along the seafront.
Using the memorial building as a hide, myself and a few other birders, were able to get fairly close to a 1st winter Iceland Gull, that had been in the Southsea area for a few days. It was easy to spot amongst the other gull species, with its white body and pale brown spots and white wings. A very attractive and uncommon gull.
After managing to take a few photos, I left the common and went to the beach near the south parade pier, where I hoped to see my third target bird, a Little Gull.
Near the pier was a large number of gulls, searching the breaking waves on the beach for food, with many more gulls resting on the sea, just offshore. After scanning the birds for ten minutes or so without success, made even more difficult with the sun almost directly in my eyes, I eventually spotted an adult Little Gull, resting on the sea. A few minutes later, I saw my second of the day Little Gull, a 1st winter juvenile, flying along the surfline, feeding.
At Moor Green Lakes, Berks, the male Smew and male and female Goldeneye, have so far stayed at the lakes.
On the 28th, I went to Finchampstead Ridges, Berks, a short walk away from Moor Green and a good spot for Firecrest.
It was a bright sunny morning, after an overnight frost. After twenty minutes or so after arrival, I saw a male and female Firescrest, chasing each other through the holly bushes. The male was splendid, with his orange red head stripe.