Sunday, 26 May 2013

Woodcock surveys & final seawatch (19-25 May 2013)

Sunday 19 May.  After the high of the Margate Dusky Thrush it was back to Seaford for my last chance of a sea-watch of the spring.  It was not to be.  Last year was poor (not many terns and no Blacks) but this year was worse (no Black or Little Terns).  I met John King at Splash Point just after 06:00 and we were just about to give up after an hour of very little (4 Sanderling best) when Simon Linington and John Gowers arrived.  It would have been rude to have left at this point, and Simon is eagle-eyed and not someone one wants to leave anywhere so we stayed.  It was fortunate that we did so as a Hobby came I a couple of minutes later but it as slow going with 13 more Sanderling, a Whimbrel, a very distant Arctic Skua and two second-summer Mediterranean Gulls in two hours.  most entertainment was provided by a Grey Seal that swam past, hauled itself onto the beach and proceeded to have a good scratch.  Meanwhile the local Ravens were raiding nests in the Kittiwake colony.  A Kittiwake pulled one off its nest but to no avail as the Raven returned and stole an egg.  The Kittiwake looked quite distressed returning to find it gone.  A walk around Hope Gap produced nothing of note.


Grey Seal on Seaford beach
Sanderling under the basket at Splash Point, Seaford
Monday-Friday 20-24 May.  A female-plumaged Black Redstart was singing from the timber yard east of Southwick Power Station most days with the Rock Pipit in song by Carot's Cafe on Thursday morning.

Tuesday 21 May.  An evening visit to Graffham Common for my Woodcock survey produced another blank with distantly heard Cuckoo and Tawny Owl little consolation.  Two blank visits are thankfully enough but not knowing when to quit, and finding Woodcock one of our most comical birds, I agreed to survey Lavington Common as i intended going there anyway.

Saturday 25 May.  During five hours walking around the Knepp Estate as far as Knepp Mill Pond I saw 7 Buzzards, 3 Lapwing, 5 Stock Doves, 2 Cuckoos, Nightingale (plus 3 heard), Reed Warbler and 4 Garden Warblers.  I had seen Turtle Dove and Spotted Flycatcher here in 2011 but sadly neither were evident today.

A pleasant still but not overly warm evening produced a brief Wood Lark, 3 singing Tree Pipits and 2 Yellowhammers on Lavington Plantation.  Lavington Common didn't let me down with 10 Woodcock encounters during the 75 minute survey.  In this time I also heard Cuckoo, at least 3 Tawny Owls and a brief and fairly distant Nightjar.  Not to do better with the latter was disappointing but it was rather cold.

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