After my borderline disastrous pre-birthday birding, I subsequently turned fifteen. To break in my new age, early the morning after my birthday I headed to Newhaven Harbour with Caleb for a spot of birding. It wasn't an encouraging start after I missed the train I was intending to get. Still, it was dark... So early enough. With the sun coming up over the sea to start a clear day, I headed to the pier to look for Purple Sandpipers. They seem pretty much guaranteed here from December-March, so finding them usually isn't too hard, getting a shot on the other hand... not so easy. They seem to favour feeding in the shade below the pier, bad angle, bad lighting, I'll leave it at that. Always a joy to watch though!
There was a single Shag fishing just off the pier, and that was about it for the next hour or two, save countless flocks of finches.
While watching one of the groups of finches (in this case Greenfinch) feeding on a beach, we caught a glimpse of something larger with big wing-bars come down on the beach. Snow Bunting flashed to mind. And after cautiously - and slightly excitedly I will admit - approaching where it had landed, yes! There it was, Snow Bunting. A burst of shots, then we moved around and waited for it to come a bit closer. Thankfully, it complied. Need I tell you how the next four hours were spent? Perhaps not, but I will. I feel I must, for it was rather incredible. Somehow this was my first Snow Bunt, funnily enough I dipped one here a couple of weeks ago.
I dread to think the amount of times I filled my memory cards - perhaps a reminder to clear them before I go out? Employing the crawling-on-shingle approach, we managed at times to be within 10 foot of him (it was a male). The light was perhaps too harsh, and sure he seemed to have a love for distracting debris, but with views like that I'm not complaining...
We watched him (with just a small break) until the sun was too low to photograph any more. Such a great bird, the third to turn up on this stretch of coast in the last few weeks, but by far the the showiest!