Saturday, 27 May 2017

Seaford seawatch (27 May)

Saturday 27 May. Back from Mongolia which has no sea at all a SE wind tempted me over to Seaford for what will probably be my last spring seawatch of the year. JK, Matt and Bob were in situ when I arrived at 06:00. JK and I stayed to 10:30, the others having left by then although Matt made a brief return visit to bring us the news that Seaford Head was very quiet. Between 06:00-10:30 I recorded the following flying East: 86 Gannets, a Shag, 423 Common Scoter, 3 Oystercatchers, 2 Sanderling, single Whimbrel and Turnstone, single Great and Arctic Skuas, 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls, 37 Sandwich and 2 Common Terns, a Razorbill, 4 Guillemots and 6 unidentified auks. I thought it a reasonable return for a late seawatch and certainly enough to keep our interest while hoping something better might fly past. Later Megan and I took Cookie around the Adur Houseboats seeing 2 Little Egrets.

Friday 26 May. A brief look produced 6 Swifts over the house at dusk.

Thursday 25 May. A brief look produced 8 Swifts over the house at dusk.

Wednesday 24 May. Megan and I took Cookie to the Adur. Work continues along the east side which remains closed making it necessary to walk into the town to do a circuit. We walked across the old Toll Bridge and along by the airport and back to avoid doing so. I saw a Little Egret, 2 Shelduck, 2 Oystercatchers, 2 Reed Warblers, a Whitethroat and a few ordinary gulls. 

Saturday, 6 May 2017

early May in Sussex

Sunday 7 May. A visit to Pulborough with Megan and Cookie was confined to the heathland, bluebell woods and the public footpath to the river. Two, possibly three mobile Cuckoos were calling but always remained unseen, a step ahead (or behind us). Highlights were a singing male Redstart and a juvenile Crossbill on the heathland 'hump'. A Nightingale sang briefly near Fattengates and four Egyptian Geese flew over as we walked back. Once home I finished packing ...

Saturday 6 May. Three Swifts were over the house when I left to take Cookie to the southern section of the Knepp Estate. I saw Cuckoo, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and Bullfinch and heard Turtle Dove (distant and briefly) and Nightingale (frustratingly close and prolonged). Later we went to the Cuckmere, parking at the barn. There I saw Nick Pope and Jon Curson and Cookie made acquaintance with their dogs. They told me where best to look for the Garganey and that there were a couple of Whinchats on the dung/straw heap. I saw one Whinchat and a Wheatear, the Garganey and then both Whinchats before leaving. This evening ten Swifts over our road, they are well and truly back.
Garganey in the lower Cuckmere, viewed from Harry's Bush

male Whinchat on the straw heap

female Whinchat

Friday 5 May. Megan and I took Cookie to Crowlink and walked to Belle Tout and back. Birds were disappointing - not helped by a strong cold NW wind. Early May is potentially the best time in Sussex but not today with 7 Swifts in, a Peregrine, 6 Stonechats, 5 Lesser Whitethroats and 2 Ravens. In the evening two Swifts were over the house as I got into my car to drive to Lavington for my first Woodcock survey of the year. Just two sightings was disappointing although a Tawny Owl on the way home made up for not seeing one of the Beachy pair.
Early Spider Orchid at Beachy

Thursday 4 May. A Peregrine on Southwick Power Station on my way to work. Two Swifts over the house in the evening, my first of the year.

Wednesday 3 May. Walking around Mill Hill with Cookie I saw a Lesser and three Common Whitethroat and a Blackcap.

Monday 1 May. We had planned to go to Crowlink but the wind looked too strong and we decided on Cissbury instead. That gave me a couple of hours beforehand and I seawatched from Shoreham Fort from 06:50-08:50. I did see 7 Arctic Skuas and 30 Sandwich, 11 Common and an Arctic Tern but with a very clear horizon I wasn't too surprised to later discover that while I was there ten Pomarine Skuas were seen at Selsey then Seaford. One or two I could imagine missing but not ten so I'm guessing/hoping they were a long way out. I did wonder if Widewater might have been better, sacrificing some distance to gain more shelter. Cissbury wasn't special with two smart male Stonechats and five Whitethroats.
male Stonechat at Cissbury

Friday, 5 May 2017

TRIP INDEX by year

TRIP INDEX – by year

The following lists chronological the foreign birding trips that I have done.  Also included are a few family trips to decent birding locations and some with Megan to France. In time I hope to 'blog' them all, and those that have been done are shown in bold with a link. All the older blogs use scanned slides (or digitised prints of varying quality). Some of the slides have degraded badly with age. Some blogs use photos take by those I was with (they are easy to tell as they are significantly better than mine). Most blogs are heavily reliant on my unreliable memories. They were initially done to find a 'home' for my old boxes of slides which I had not looked at for years. Doing these blogs has brought back many very happy memories, and a few sad ones - I’ve been very fortunate in having various like-minded friends, some no longer with us, whom I have usually been able to travel with.
Kagu, New Caledonia August 1998 (digitised print taken with an instamatic).  One of my all-time top four birds.  Giant Pitta (1987), Wilson's Bird of Paradise (1993) and displaying Western Parotia (2013) are the others.
1974:  MAJORCA (October)
          brief mention in The 1970s: finding my feet - 1974 blog

1975:  CARMARGUE (May)

          included in The 1970s: Camargue, Shetland & Scillies in 1975 blog

1977:  MOROCCO (April)

             KENYA (December-January 1978)

1978:  THAILAND (December-January 1979)

1979:  ISRAEL (March/April)

            CANARIES (June/July)

             NEPAL (November-January 1980)

1980:  CANADA (May)

            THAILAND (December-January 1981)

1982: MALAYSIA (January/February)

            THAILAND (February)

            NEPAL (March/June)
          Jomson Trek

          Everest Trek

          Langtang Trek

            INDIA (June/July)


           VENEZUELA (December-February 1983)

1983:  KENYA (July/August)

1984:  PERU (July/August)

            BOTSWANA (December-January 1985) 


1985:  COSTA RICA (July/August)

1986:  AUSTRALIA (March/April)

           ECUADOR: July/August 1986

1987:  MALAYSIA (July/August) 

1988: THAILAND (March/April)
          BRAZIL (July/August)

1989:  ICELAND (June)               

1990:  ARGENTINA (August)

1991:  SOUTH AFRICA (August)

1992:  INDONESIA Sulawesi & Halmahera (August)

1993:  INDONESIA Irian Jaya (August)

1995:  MADAGASCAR (August)

1996:  PHILIPPINES (April)

            NEW ZEALAND (August)   

1997:  VIETNAM (March/April)     

1998:  AUSTRALIA & NEW CALEDONIA (July/August)


1999:  ECUADOR (August/September)


2000:  CHINA Quinghai (June)


           GAMBIA (November)

2002:  CHILE (April)

2003:  JAPAN (January)

           CAMEROON (April)

           PAPUA NEW GUINEA (June)

2005:  TEXAS (Aprill)

           INDONESIA Sumatra & West Java (July)

2006:  PAPUA NEW GUINEA (August)

2007:  INDIA Eaglenest (April)          

2008:  PHILIPPINES (April)

           NAMIBIA (July/August)

2009:  VIETNAM (April)

          Cat Tien & Da Lat plateau

2010:  CHINA (May/June)
          Shanghai (Spoon-billed Sandpiper), Wuishan, Fuzhou & Xiaolongmen

          Xi’an & Yangxian (Crested Ibis)

          Pingtai (Jankowski’s Bunting)

            UGANDA (June)
          Mbamba (Shoebill), Kibale (Green-breasted Pitta) & Bwindi (African Green Broadbill)

2011:  ETHIOPIA (February)

           TAIWAN (April/May)

2012:  TURKEY (June)


          Nemrut Dagi

          MALAYSIA Sarawak & Sabah (July/August)
          Kuching, Kinabatangan River, Danum Valley, Sepilok and Mount Kinabalu

          FRANCE Somme (September)

2013:  CORSICA (May)

            INDONESIA West Papua (August)

          FRANCE Normandie (September)

2014:  SPAIN Extremadura (April)

           COLOMBIA (July/August)
          FRANCE Brittany (September)

2015:  ECUADOR (January/February)
            ARIZONA (April/May)
            INDONESIA (August)
           FRANCE Somme (August/September)
           BRAZIL (September/October)

2016:  CALIFORNIA (January)
           MEXICO (February/March)
           NORWAY (May)
           FINLAND (May/June)
           JAPAN (June/July)
            FRANCE Somme (September)
           GHANA (October/November)

2017:  JAMIACA (February)
            TRINIDAD and TOBAGO (March)
           GUYANA (March/April)

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Seaford seawatch (30 April 2017)

Sunday 30 April. I seawatched from Seaford from 05:15 to 17:00 when I left with Matt. Thanks to his and other's sharp eyes and some good calls from Derek in the second row and Simon on the beach I saw the following flying east: 4 Red and 2 Black-throated Divers, 3 Manx and a Balearic Shearwater, 297 Gannets, 2 Bar-headed and 22 Brent Geese, 30 Shelduck, 8 Gadwall, a Teal, 4 Pintail, a pair of Shoveler, a female Eider, 941 Common and 25 Velvet Scoter, 102 Grey Plover, 213 Knot, 110 Sanderling, 27 Dunlin, 82 Bar-tailed Godwits, 99 Whimbrel, a Redshank, 9 Turnstone, 47 Pomarine, 44 Arctic and 10 Great Skuas, 3 Mediterranean, 32 Little and 77 Black-headed Gulls, 168 Sandwich, 364 Commic and 59 Little Terns and 24 auks. Two Hobbies and 2 Swallows came in and a Common Sandpiper was on the breakwater. The Balearic was picked up at about 13:05 by Matt. It was with a Manx (a nice comparison) then landed on the sea. All but two of the Pomarines were pale morph birds as were 21 of the Arctics. Of the Commic Terns 212 were identified as Common and 37 Arctic. A very enjoyable seawatch with lots of variety even if it did tail off a bit - the last Pom was at about 13:05, the last 4 hours failing to produce the extra three we needed to reach 50.

poor images of one of the Pomarine Skuas. It was a lot closer than these images suggest

Sandwich Terns going nowhere fast