Tuesday, 13 August 2019

The gulls next door

I first noticed a pair of Great Black-backed Gulls on the roof behind our bungalow in June 2017 when two adults and two large chicks were seen on 28th. Birds are only visible when on our side of the roof so it wasn't a total surprise to see three chicks on 30th. Three were present, and growing until 23 July when only two were seen until 27th. No birds were noted after this and it was assumed that as there had been a lot of flapping the family had moved off.
three on the roof - 30 June 2017
breakfast - 04 July 2017
early flaps - 09 July 2017
growing and learning (sticks aren't edible) - 19 July 2017
almost fully grown - 22 July 2017
The next day they'd moved to a nearby roof, none were seen on 24th and on 25th I saw an adult and two youngsters flying low over Middle Road. It's likely they all fledged.
In 2018 a pair of gulls were seen on the roof on 2 June with one sitting on a nest. On 5 June two small chicks were seen and watched slowly growing to 27 June when I went to Peru. On my return on 31 July both adults and the two chicks, now fully grown, were on the roof. From 5-7 August just one adult and one juvenile were seen and with no subsequent sightings, I assumed they had moved on.
first sign of chicks - 05 June 2018
two, not being able to see in the nest they might have been a couple of days old
out of the nest - 06 June 2018
hungry - 13 June 2018
growing - 16 June 2018
overgrown chicks -22 June 2018
fully grown but still a big baby - 25 July 2018
juvenile plumage and about to leave - 01 August 2018
In 2019 one Great Black-backed Gull was seen on the roof intermittently from 08 May with two on 22nd and one sitting on a the nest, which had been built rather surreptitiously, from 23 May. The first (and only) chick was seen on 26 June. Not being able to see into the nest I'm not sure if other eggs had been predated. There is a gang of Carrion Crows seen regularly in the area which are quite good at breaking into egg boxes and stealing eggs left by the milkman on our front doorstep (at least until we put out a plastic box for them). The chick grew to full size but disappeared following gale force winds on the night of 10 August. On 11th both parents were on the roof until at least 22:00 hrs calling for it. One was present, calling on the morning of 12 August and again briefly on 13th. A week or two building up last year's nest and laying eggs, 34 days sitting and 46 days feeding their youngster was sadly to no avail. Hopefully they'll return next year and be more successful.
both adults on the roof - 24 May 2019
hot on the nest - 21 May 2019
still sitting - 24 June
hatched after 34 days - 26 June 2019
hungry - 30 June 2019
bigger - 06 July 2019
breakfast - 14 July 2019
with mum and dad - 22 July 2019
27 July 2019
investigating - 06 August 2019
almost fully grown - 08 August 2019
46 days old and sheltering from the storm 10 August 2019
missing - 11 August 2019
losing hope - 12 August 2019

Shoreham and Worthing (07-13 August)

Tuesday 13 August. As soon as the rain stopped I took Cookie up to Mill Hill. The calmest day for a while and my best visit this autumn although there had been a big clearout of Willow Warblers with just 4 seen. We also saw 6 Reed Warblers (possibly a site record for me), 2 Lesser and  23 Common Whitethroats, 9 Blackcaps and single Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff, Peregrine, Buzzard, Long-tailed Tit and Swift. Back home one of the adult Great Black-backed Gulls was briefly on the roof opposite calling, it had not completely given up on its youngster yet.
one of the Reed Warblers on Mill Hill
a more showy individual



Lesser Whitethroat at Mill Hill
Magpie showing its iridescent blue feathers
Painted Lady on Mill Hill
I've not seen many this autumn but those I have are the brightest I can remember ever seeing, superb.
Monday 12 August. One of the adult Great Black-backed Gulls was on the roof opposite calling when Megan and I took Cookie up to Mill Hill. It was still there when we returned but had moved on by lunchtime. There had been a decent fall of Willow Warblers at Mill Hill, we saw 31 and also 21 Whitethroats, 2 Blackcaps and a Swift. At low tide we visited the Adur between heavy downpours seeing another 2 Willow Warblers, the Whimbrel (the only wader) and 110 House Sparrows.
high tide from Mill Hill
still not quite given up on their youngster, a sad end to over three months of effort
threatening skies over Lancing College


part of a large sparrow flock
Sunday 11 August. The two adult Great Black-backed Gulls were on the roof opposite calling throughout the day and often looking down into the garden below. There was no sign of the youngster and I can only assume it was blown from the roof in the gales during the night and perished. Very sad. Megan and I took Cookie to Brooklands where our most interesting sighting was a highly mobile tit flock (6+ Long-tailed, 10+ Great and 8+ Blue). 
adult Great Black-backed Gulls calling for their youngster
to no avail


Saturday 10 August. I seawatched at Widewater from 06:30-08:00 and was rewarded with a rather distant Balearic Shearwater flying west. Otherwise just 5 Gannets, 2 Kittiwakes, a Sandwich Tern and a Swift were seen. Later Megan and I took Cookie to Rackham in the hope of finding some shelter. Sheltered it mainly was but hardly any birds were seen with 3 Kestrels best (by far). The young Great Black-backed Gull with at least one adult remained on the roof.
our not so young Great Black-backed Gull sheltering from 50mph winds
its come a long way in 45 days, since 26 June!
rough seas and gusts of over 50mph at Widewater


if anything it looked worse further east
Friday 09 August. Megan and I took Cookie to Mill Hill. It was quite breezy which kept small birds out of the way with 4 Whitethroats and single Blackcap and Willow Warbler seen. A Swift flew south and at one stage a Peregrine was having a punch-up with 2 Ravens before breaking off to continue flying lessons for its two youngsters. The young Great Black-backed Gull with at least one adult remained on the roof.
resting after yesterday's exertions?
juvenile Peregrine, my only decent shot out of about 50 taken. Bridge Cameras seem to struggle, at least when I'm using them
Thursday 08 August. Megan and I took Cookie to Brooklands but it was very quiet with a Common Sandpiper and Reed Warbler best and disappointingly no interesting gulls. Megan went on to see her dad in hospital while I took Cookie home via the Adur. This was even quieter with just 2 Little Egrets, and Oystercatcher and 2 Redshank. Scoping across to Lancing college added 6 Swifts, a Swallow and 5+ House MartinsThe young Great Black-backed Gull remained on the roof, flapping vigorously for several minutes at dusk.
our young Great Black-backed Gull was a bit more energetic when I saw it today
Wednesday 07 August. I took Cookie up to Mill Hill where we saw 3 Peregrines engaged in acrobatics, Kestrelsa Sparrowhawk and a Buzzard. On one occasion all were in the air at the same time which was impressive. Also 2 Swifts and a Jay but no small birds at all. We came home via the Adur where we saw single Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Whimbrel and Common Sandpiper, 2 Little Egrets, a couple of  juvenile gulls and 4 House Martins over Lancing College. The young Great Black-backed Gull was still on the roof.
looking west from Mill Hill
one of three Peregrines over Mill Hill
not more juvenile gulls!
our young Great Black-backed Gull