Friday, 18 May 2018

Mid May in mid Sussex (12-18 May)


Friday 18 May. An enjoyable walk with Cookie from Woods Mill to Streatham Manor and back looked to be more about what I'd seen than heard although Turtle Dove going from heard to seen towards the end just about tipped the balance in favour of seen. Seen were 2 Egyptian Geese, 10 Lapwings (and 2 half-sized chicks), Turtle Dove, Barn Owl, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 8 Sky Larks, 4 Swallows, a female Stonechat, 2 Reed Warblers, Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Bullfinches and 4 Yellowhammers. I only heard Cuckoo, Nightingale and Cetti's Warbler. Later just 2 Oystercatchers on the Adur but it was high tide.
day flying Barn Owl near Streatham Manor
it was on view from at least 08:40-08:50 and again around 10:15
juvenile Long-tailed Tit


half-grown Lapwing chick
Reed Bunting
Egyptian Geese near Streatham Manor
Wednesday 16 May. I took Cookie to the southern section of the Knepp Estate seeing 3 Tufted Duck, Red Kite, Lapwing, 2 Turtle Doves, 2 Cuckoos, 3 Swifts, a Green & 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Nightingale, Lessert Whitethroat (3 heard), 4 Garden Warblers and a Bullfinch.
Garden Warbler on the Knepp Estate
Turtle Dove
Cookie wanting to be friendly
Tuesday 15 May. A lovely warm, still cloudless evening seemed ideal to do my first Woodcock Survey of the year at Lavington. If it was then they are in serious trouble as I only had one sighting, of two birds. 3 Nightjar sightings and a Cuckoo did little to mitigate my disappointment.
Lavington Common


Monday 14 May. In the evening five Swifts were flying high over the garden.


Sunday 13 May. Megan and I took Cookie to Chantry Hill and walked along the South Downs to Rackham Hill seeing 3 Red Kites, 5 Buzzards, 2 Grey Partridges, 9 Sky Larks, 2 Meadow Pipits, 9 Yellowhammers and a Corn Bunting. Yesterday's Whimbrel was still on the Adur at low tide as well as a North Thames Herring Gull I had seen there in March. 

dead mole on the Downs, I've never seen a live one
Yellowhammer in full song

a very under-rated species
Mr and Mrs
Herring Gull A9XT on the Adur
Saturday 12 May. I took Cookie up to Truleigh Hill where we saw 2 Peregrines, 10 Sky Larks, a female Wheatear, Yellowhammer and 4 Corn Buntings. Early evening's low tide on the Adur produced a Whimbrel and 2 North Thames colour-ringed Herring Gulls (one I'd seen there before and a new one). 
Whimbrel on the Adur
Herring Gull X6NT (also seen on the Adur in November 2015)

Friday, 11 May 2018

Seaford and Shoreham seawatches (11 May 2018)

Friday 11 May. A SE forecast had me at Seaford at 05:30 with Frank Lambert. We seawatched to 14:30, from 12:00 with Matt. It was a little disappointing despite the excellent company, the promise of an early Pom not really materialising further. I recorded the following flying east: 3 Red-throated and 12 Black-throated Divers, 229 Gannets, 108 Common Scoter, 7 Sanderling, 20 Whimbrel, 2 Pomarine Skuas (single pale morphs at 06:05 and 14:15), 1 Great and 14 Arctic Skuas (2 pale, 10 dark & 2 distant), 1 Mediterranean Gull (first-summer), 59 Sandwich, 210 Commic and 3 Little Terns and 21 auks of which 4 were close enough to identify as Razorbills. Of the Commics 39 were identified as Common and 48 as Arctic Terns. A Guillemot was seen on the sea and 2 Swallows came in. The best sighting however was  a Purple Sandpiper on the jetty showing some purple tones. The seawatch had quietened considerably, not that it was ever busy, and the light was becoming more difficult so we quit at 14:30 although it was no great surprise to see a tweet from Mat about 4 Poms that afternoon. I returned to the coast watching from the end of Shoreham Harbour from 17:10-19:10 seeing 52 Gannets, 18 Common Scoter, 37 Whimbrel, a flock of 4 Pomarine Skuas (2 pale & 2 dark at 19:03), 2 Arctic Skuas (1 pale & 1 dark) and 10 Sandwich and 3 Common Terns.

The flock of 4 Poms had first been seen at Hill Head in Hampshire at 17:03 and were tracked along the coast passing Selsey at 18:00 and Worthing at 18:45 before reaching Shoreham at 19:03. They ended up landing on the sea off Seaford at 19:58. Thanks to everyone who tweeted their progress, it was reassuring to know they were still coming even if they were a bit slower than expected.
Purple Sandpiper at Splash Point, Seaford
nice to see some purple tones on its mantle




I'm off now

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Knepp Estate (09 May 2018)

Wednesday 09 May. Lots of birds were singing during a morning visit to the southern section of the Knepp Estate with Cookie. Highlights were 4 Turtle Doves, 2 Cuckoos, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler and 4 Bullfinches. I had very mixed feelings about the 2 released White Storks seen. In the afternoon Megan and I heard a Lesser Whitethroat at Mill Hill and an evening visit to West Mill produced another Lesser Whitethroat and 2 Nightingales (with a third heard).
Turtle Dove on the Knepp Estate, almost the first bird I saw
these two and a third were in the extreme southern section



Cuckoo at the Knepp Estate
female Great Spotted Woodpecker


White Storks in the Knepp Estate (just). Their rings were not obvious until close and as many records of White Stork in Sussex are unlikely to be seen this well those not seem destined to be tainted with the release possibility (at least initially those in the centre of the county).
interestingly the colour rings were a different colour and on different legs
grey CU
red DC
the highlight of our visit to Mill Hill
Tuesday 08 May. A seawatch from Hove seafront on my way to work was hardly worth getting up early for with 3 Canada Geese the highlight. A fog bank didn;t help and might have explained why I didn't see 5 Pomarine Skuas on their way to Seaford.

Monday 07 May (continued). I returned to the coast watching from the end of Shoreham Harbour from 17:30-19:30 and managed two Pomarine Skuas just about my side of the murk at 18:41 and 19:27. The former had a good tail and was seen off Brooklands a few minutes before, the latter didn't and was presumably that seen off Goring at 19:00. Unfortunately a flock of 5 seen at Selsey at 17:03 and Seaford at 18:11 wasn't seen by me or BJ who was on the arm when I arrived.
another Shetland-Sussex connection, the other way this time but little compensation for the 'loss' of two of our best birders, the late MSC and more recently DC.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Seaford seawatches (05, 06 & 07 May 2018)

Monday 07 May. Another Splash Point seawatch where I joined CB, JMS, ME & JC at 05:45 with DB, SL and others arriving soon after. It was slow and somewhat hazy and the very light NE did little to bring most of the passing birds close enough to enjoy. Up to 12:00 when I left I recorded the following flying east: 2 Black-throated Divers10 Shelduck, a pair of Shoveler (that circled the bay before continuing), 125 Common Scoter, 2 Oystercatchers, 4 Grey Plover, 40 Knot, single Sanderling and Dunlin, 70 Bar-tailed Godwits, 16 Whimbrel, 2 impressive pale morph Pomarine Skuas (at 06:00 - relatively close with good tails), 12 Arctic Skuas (7 pale, 3 dark & 2 distant and including a high flock of 7), a distant unidentified large skua, 33 Sandwich Terns, 555 Commic Terns (most too far out to attempt identifying), 7 Little and 2 Black Terns. There were also 3 Common Sandpipers on the rocks east of the breakwater. It turned out to be a mistake ot leave as Poms started moving mid afternoon, ME, JMS and DB sticking it out for most of the day. I returned to the coast watching from the end of Shoreham Harbour from 17:30-19:30 and managed two Poms just about my side of the murk at 18:41 and 19:27. The former had a good tail and was seen off Brooklands a few minutes before, the latter didn't and was presumably that seen off Goring at 19:00. Unfortunately a flock of 5 seen at Selsey at 17:03 and Seaford at 18:11 wasn't seen by me or BJ who was on the arm when I arrived.

Sunday 06 May. I arrived at Splash Point at 05:30 to join P&GJ and ME, the latter not first on the arm for a change. I stated to 12:00 when heat haze made viewing of the little that was going past difficult. During that time I recorded the following flying E: 44 Gannets, 3 Shelduck, 30 Common Scoter, 5 Oystercatchers, 260 Bar-tailed Godwits, 116 Whimbrel, a flock of 7 pale morph Pomarine Skuas (over the basket at 10:02), 7 Arctic Skuas (2 pale, 5 dark), a Great Skua, 16 Sandwich Terns, 660 Commic Terns (including at least 222 Arctics, about 85% of those identified), 6 Little and 6 Black Terns. The latter were a single and 5 out of 7 seen by SL in a flock of about 30 Commics. A Shag flew west and an unidentified sandpiper (not Common), a Sand Martin, 3 Swallows and 2 alba Wagtails came in. Later Megan and I took Cookie up to Mill Hill seeing a Buzzard and 2 Whitethroats
successful Skuas On Sunday outing
Goldfinch collecting nesting material by our front porch
Saturday 05 May 2018. I arrived at Splash Point, Seaford with DB at 05:55 to find ME, JK and PE on the arm. It was a generally quiet seawatch with enough going by to keep ones interest. Most of us stuck it out to 12:00 during which time I'd seen the following flying east: 2 divers (one a summer Black-throated), 2 Manx Shearwaters (and 1 west), 23 Gannets, 4 Shelduck, a drake Garganey (at 06:25), 52 Common Scoter, an Avocet (at 11:00), 5 Grey Plover, 95 Whimbrel, 205 Bar-tailed Godwits, 5 Arctic Skuas (2 pale, 2 dark & 1 distant), 2 Great Skuas, 18 Sandwich Terns, 875 Commic (including at least 145 Arctics, 80% of those identified) and a Little Tern. Two Mute Swans flew west, 6 Razorbills were seen, 2 separate Hobbies came in as did a Swift and 2 Swallows.
a dog heading west enlivend one quiet period

Friday, 4 May 2018

Old Lodge (4 May).

Friday 4 May (Star Wars Day). A leisurely morning visit to Old Lodge with Megan, Ruth (over from New Zealand) and Cookie. Lovely weather, lots of song and most of the hoped for birds seen although we only heard Cuckoo. Highlights were 3 Wood Lark, 3 Tree Pipits and 2 male Redstarts, a Siskin and 3 Crossbills, the latter rather unexpected. On the way back a Red Kite flew over Piltdown.
one of the Crossbills at Old Lodge
the bill looking a bit chunkier in this image
looking more typical in this one
Redstart at Old Lodge

Wednesday 2 May. I wasn't working but messed up seawatching by oversleeping, going to Widewater rather than Seaford and giving up after 20 minutes of seeing nothing at all and getting soaked.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Seaford seawatch (29 April)

Sunday 29 April. I arrived at Seaford at 05:45 slightly ahead of JK. Later we were joined by JMS and JW but not before we'd seen a male Redstart on the groyne arm and a Hobby flying N. We watched to 10:20 seeing the following flying east: single Red-throated Diver and Manx Shearwater, 34 Gannets (and 41 W), 28 Common Scoter (and 16 W), a close male Velvet Scoter with 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, 6 Golden Plover (the first I can recall on a seawatch although they go up quite high), 145 Bar-tailed Godwits, 9 Whimbrel, a Great Skua, 18 Sandwich Terns (and 15 W), 15 Common Terns, 22 auks (one of which was identified as a Razorbill) and14 came Swallows in.
male Redstart at Splash Point, it did not linger
Saturday 28 April. While Megan and I took Cookie around the Trundle a distant flock of birds flying over Goodwood Racecourse caught my eye. Initally thoughts that they might be Ravens were soon dispelled when I looked through binoculars. They were young Herring Gulls except one which was off-white - a juvenile Iceland Gull. They were heading my way but veered off SW before I thought to extract my camera from my bag. It then took ages to find the birds in the viewfinder and they were almost lost to view before I did. I then dropped Megan in Chichester, where she was going to the theatre, and drove on to Pagham stopping briefly at Ivy Lake where I saw 6 Swifts, 25 Sand Martins, 30 Swallows and 40 House Martins. We parked at Sidlesham Ferry and walked to Church Norton and back seeing a Brent Goose, 2 Avocets, 103 Black-tailed and 7 Bar-tailed Godwits, 30 Whimbrel, a summer plumaged Spotted Redshank, 2 Reed and 6 Sedge Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Raven.
Iceland and Herring Gull from the Trundle

Spotted Redshank on Sidlesham Ferry
Little Egret at Pagham

Sedge Warbler by the Long Pool, one of 6 seen and at least another 4 were heard
Whimbrel in Pagham Harbour