Monday, 1 March 2021

Pleasant birding in the Shoreham Area (24 February-01 March)

Monday 01 March. I seawatched from Widewater in a light/moderate NE but saw very little. Birds might have been passing at distance, it was murky with Rampion not visible, but I doubt it. Flying east I saw a single Gannet off-shore and an Oystercatcher, 16 Turnstones and a Pied Wagtail long the beach. A Guillemot, Red-throated Diver and 3 Great Crested Grebes were on the sea and that was pretty much it. I met Megan and Cookie at the end of Harbour Way and saw 15 Cormorants and a probable Shag on the east arm of Shoreham Harbour, 4 Turnstones and 2 fishermen under the wooden jetty and nothing from the boardwalk. Megan took Cookie home and I wandered around Adur Rec waiting for the rising tide. I saw yesterday's Avocet and a Grey Plover just north of the railway line before looking over the saltings from the RSPB viewpoint. It was a big tide (6.5m) and most birds were forced to show themselves. I counted 14 Teal, 2 Oystercatchers, the Avocet, 4 Lapwings, 2 Curlew (a third eluded me), a Knot, 4 Dunlin, 53 Common Snipe, 45 Redshank, the wintering Greenshank, Grey Heron and 3 Reed Buntings.

the Avocet floated off the Adur Saltings

Sunday 28 February. Megan and I took Cookie to Dacre Gardens and walked west along the South Downs Way past the Annington pig city to the Steyning-Sompting Road. There we headed south almost to Steepdown and returned via Coombe Head and Botolphs. It took 2.5 hours and for the first time in ages we tired Cookie out. She only has small legs and it was further than we'd realised - 6 miles when I measured it on a map. We saw 3 Grey Herons, Buzzard, 2 Ravens, 12 Sky Larks, 45 Fieldfares, male Stonechat, 9 Pied Wagtails, 3 Chaffinches and a Reed Bunting. Later I cycled down to the Adur to successfully look for the Avocet.

Avocet (and Black-headed Gull) on the Adur
it was quite happy swimming

Saturday 27 February. Cookie and I had a three hour walk on the Downs around Beeding Hill (the NT car park-Monarch's Way-Truleigh Hill-Room Bottom triangle). I saw 29 species including 2 Stock Doves, 9 Buzzards, Peregrine, 2 Ravens, 39 Sky Larks, Goldcrest, 7 Redwings, 9 Dunnocks, 24 Meadow Pipits, 5 Chaffinches, 2 Greenfinches and 2 Corn Buntings. The Sky Larks were the clear highlight with a few more singing that weren't seen.

Friday 26 February. Megan and I took Cookie to Steepdown seeing Red Kite, 2 Buzzards, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Kestrel, 2 Jays, 24 very vocal Sky Larks, Long-tailed Tit, 3 Stonechats, 2 Meadow Pipits, a Linnet and 8 Corn Buntings. Low tide on the Adur was disappointing, and quite busy with canoeists and bait-diggers. I saw a Grey Plover and 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls.

Red Kite over Steepdown

no longer an exceptional sighting locally although always nice to see
this was one of my best ever views

Kestrel on Steepdown

Thursday 25 February. I seawatched from Widewater in a light westerly with poor to moderate visibility before walking along to look for roosting waders at Golden Sands. Flying east I saw 5 Brent Geese, 10 adult Mediterranean Gulls (with another 2 briefly on the lagoon), 2 Red-throated Divers (2 also flew west) and a Fulmar. Two Great Crested Grebes, 2 auks and a diver were on the sea while  2 Teal, 14 Ringed Plover, 13 Turnstones and 2 Dunlin were also seen. On the Adur Saltings on a falling tide I saw 6 Teal, 11 Oystercatchers, a/the Curlew, 23 Redshank and the wintering Greenshank. A low tide visit to the Adur added 14 adult Mediterranean Gulls in the roost, 2 Little Egrets and a Kingfisher. At dusk 60 Jackdaws flew over the Red Lion.

view out to sea from Widewater with the murk slowly clearing
Redshank on the Adur Saltings
Greenshank on the Adur Saltings

Wednseday 24 February. I took Cookie to Widewater where we seawatched recording the following: Brent Goose 14E, Great Crested Grebe 2 on sea, Black-headed Gull 15E, Mediterranean Gull 4E (adults) and Razorbill 1E. No Gannets, duck or divers. A walk along to Golden Sands produced a single Sanderling and 4 Ringed Plover amongst a flock of about 120 Dunlin. At Shoreham Fort 2 Purple Sandpipers were dodging waves under the wooden jetty and a Peregrine was perched on the Power Station. At low tide a flock of mainly Common and Black-headed Gulls totaling over 1300 was roosting on exposed sandbank opposite the airport. I counted 32 Mediterranean Gulls on a single scan, a record for me at this site, although there were probably more. All were adult apart from a second-winter bird. None were colour-ringed which was disappointing although a Hamburg ringed Common Gull made up for it as it was one I'd seen here in November 2015. Also on the Adur was a Ringed (but no Grey) Plover, 2 Dunlin and a Kingfisher. The latter was my first sighting for almost 3 weeks, having bumped into them around Shoreham practically every other day during January.

Purple Sandpiper at Shoreham Fort
and then there were two
German Common Gull A72K, not that the ring is readable in my poorly digiscoped images. It was ringed as an adult in Hamburg in June 2014 and seen on the Adur in November 2015

Mediterranean Gulls in a more spacious part of the Adur roost

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Mediterranean Gulls on the move (19-23 February)

Tuesday 23 February. I seawatched from Widewater from 07:55-09:25. Most birds were flying west and included a flock of 60 Brent Geese, a distant scoter, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, 4 Mediterranean Gulls, 16 Red-throated Divers and a Fulmar. I then met Megan and Cookie at the end of Harbour Way and we walked to the Adur Ferry Bridge, along the boardwalk to the Fort and back past the Sailing Club. 16 Turnstones were feeding on the inner arm and the Black Redstart was again seen in the Sailing Club compound. Around low tide I saw 11 adult Mediterranean Gulls amongst 4-500 Black-headed and Common Gulls between Cuckoos Corner and the A27. One of the Mediterranean Gulls had a Dutch colour-ring while 2 colour-ringed Common Gulls were German and 2 Norwegian, although one of the latter wasn't fully read - the flock being flushed first by a Buzzard and then flying away as a paddle-boarder went by didn't. Seven adult Mediterranean Gulls roosting with mainly Common Gulls by Ricardos were presumed different taking my day's total to 22. Pretty respectable for Shoreham in February, they are starting to move. Near the railway bridge were 2 Grey Plover and nearby 2-3 bait diggers.
what looked like a platform with legs raised on the horizon at Widewater (and a Great Crested Grebe)
Black Redstart still in the Shoreham Sailing Club compound
sitting on a boat in the sunshine rather than skulking beneath one

I'm off
Common Gull A713 at Cuckoos Corner, most likely from Hamburg
Common Gull JJ328 at Cuckoos Corner. It was ringed as an adult in July 2018 at Sandness, SW Norway
another Norwegian colour-ringed Common Gull at Cuckoos Corner, I didn't see this one well enough for a certain reading 
Mediterranean Gull 372J at Cuckoos Corner
a well travelled bird - it was ringed as a chick in June 2017 at Total Antwerpen, Flanders, BELGIUM and seen in September 2018 at Cap Blanc-Nez, Pas-de-Calais FRANCE; April 2019 at Zwin, Knokke-Heist, West-Vlaanderen, Flanders; August 2019 Hameau de Strouanne; Wissant, Pas-de-Calais, FRANCE; September 2019 at Le Portel, Pas-de-Calais, FRANCE; January 2020 Ferrybridge, Dorset; February 2020 Icklesham and March 2020 at Nummer Een, Sluis, Zeeland, NETHERLANDS then Zwin, Knokke-Heist, West-Vlaanderen, Flanders, BELGIUM

Mediterranean Gull on the Adur

another Mediterranean Gull on the Adur
hey gorgeous, wanna go out?
I'm watching you

Monday 22 February. Megan and I took Cookie to Dacre Gardens from where we walked up the Adur to Bramber and back along the Downslink before continuing down to the old cement works. Highlights were 4 adult Mediterranean Gulls amongst about 400 Black-headed and 50 Common Gulls, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Ravens, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Reed Bunting. I also heard 2 Cetti's WarbblersChiffchaff and Goldcrest were my first this year within 5 miles of home moving that total on to 110.

Sunday 21 February. Megan and I took Cookie up to Mill Hill. A mild morning with light southerly wind and our first butterfly sighting, a Brimstone, definitely felt as if spring was on its way. Singing Sky Larks, Robins and Dunnocks though so too. Having said that it was generally quiet with 2 Long-tailed Tits, 16 BlackbirdsSong Thrush, Chaffinch and 2 Goldfinches.

Saturday 20 February. Cookie and I seawatched from Widewater in a moderate SSE wind, the later part with David Buckingham. Offshore I saw 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, 4 Great Crested Grebes, 3 unidentified auks, 9 Red-throated and 2 unidentified Divers and a Gannet. There were also 9 Teal on the lagoon. Rather disappointing, Shoreham Fort was no better (4 Turnstones) neither was the Adur despite it being low tide although DB saw a Mediterranean Gull by Coronation Green. The airport/Ricardos section was very busy with people and had 80 Lapwings, 3 Dunlin, 9 Redshanks and 200 Common and 7 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Friday 19 February. Megan and I took Cookie to Lancing Ring and walked around a windswept Steepdown. We enjoyed lovely views of the rolling Downs and saw Kestrel, 25 Sky Larks, 5 Song Thrushes, 8 Goldfinches, 11 Corn and 33 Reed Buntings. About what we might have expected other than the flock of Reed Buntings which was the largest I'd seen for many years.

Corn Bunting at Steepdown

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Shoreham (11-18 February)

Thursday 18 February. I took Cookie to Widewater where we dodged showers, as best we could in a moderate southerly wind, in the end trance to a beach hut. Little was moving or evident on the sea although a few birds were disappearing into troughs. I saw 7 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Razorbills, 3 Guillemots, 4 unidentified auks, 8 Red-throated Divers and 4 unidentified, a Gannet and an unidentified thrush. A smart male Red-breasted Merganser was on the lagoon and while watching it 3 Brent Geese flew over. As the rain intensified we returned to the car. It stopped soon after we returned home but by then I'd had enough.
Red-breasted Merganser at Widewater

two of the three Brent Geese at Widewater

Wednesday 17 February. I went to the Adur walking up to Cuckoos Corner and back via the railway bridge. I saw 121 Lapwing, Grey Plover, 13 Dunlin, 5 Redshank, an adult Mediterranean and 11 Lesser Black-backed GullsLittle Egret, Buzzard, 2 Sky Larks, 2 Meadow Pipits and 2 Reed Buntings.
Mediterranean Gull on the Adur

Tuesday 16 February. Megan and I took Cookie to Brooklands where we heard a Cetti's Warbler and saw 9 Teal, male Pochard, female/juvenile Tufted Duck, 2 Little Grebes and 6 Great Tits.

Monday 15 February. Megan and I took Cookie to Harbour Way, walked back to the Adur Ferry Bridge and along the boardwalk to Shoreham Fort. As the tide wasn't quite halfway in we returned along the beach to the sailing club where, somewhat to my surprise, the Black Redstart was still present. Otherwise the walk had ben disappointing with 34 Teal, 3 Turnstones, 10 Dunlin and a distant diver.
Turnstone on the west arm of Shoreham Harbour

Black Redstart at Shoreham Sailing Club
I'd not seen (or heard of it) for a couple of weeks so was pleased it was still about
it was a pleasant change to see it sitting on a boat rather than under it

Sunday 14 February. Megan and I took Cookie up to Mill Hill to find some shelter from the biting SE wind. We saw 130 Lapwings in a nearby field, 4 Song Thrushes, 3 Linnets and 13 Goldfinches while a Cetti's Warbler was singing from the lower hedge. A visit to the Adur Saltings for high tide produced just 20 Teal and 8 Redshank. I later learned three kayaks had flushed off all the other birds roosting there.

Saturday 13 February. I had a quick look at the Adur opposite the airport seeing 3 Shelduck, 4 Gadwall, 2 Grey Plover, 50 Dunlin, 6 Redshank, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a Little Egret. I didn't have time to walk up to Cuckoos Corner as Megan and I had Covid vaccination appointments at out local doctor's surgery. Visits to both ends of Southwick Canal before and after lunch produced the Gannet at the western end and the drake Eider at the eastern end. From there I returned to the Adur to look for the long staying but very elusive, at least for me, Goosander. I walked from the Old Toll Bridge to Cuckoos Corner where it had been seen most recently. As there was no sign of it I continued north along the eastern river bank hoping it was just around the next bend, and the next, all the way to Dacre Gardens. Walking back down the west side I checked my phone on returning to Cuckoos Corner to find it had been seen there while I had been walking north. Typical of my luck with this bird but almost immediately that changed as the Goosander was on the river halfway back to the A27 flyover. It gave reasonable views in fading light before flying south. Also seen on my walk were 17 Teal, 6 Ringed Plover, 23 Dunlin, 12 Redshank, 3 Little Egrets, single Great Spotted Woodpecker and Redwing, 3 Stonechats, 7 Meadow Pipits and 8 Reed Buntings.
Two male Gadwall on the Adur, the other two were females
drake Eider on Southwick Canal
a superb bird when seen well and this was probably my best view ever of a drake in Sussex 

immature Goosander on the Adur at Cuckoos Corner

its been around since early November but ranges along the Adur from the A27 to Streatham Bridge
I was beginning to feel jinxed with this bird, not having seen it since mid November despite looking somewhere along the Adur each week

Friday 12 February. I took Cookie up to the Beeding Hill car park and we walked SE along the Monarch's Way, up to Truleigh Hill and back skirting Room Bottom. I saw 2 Mediterranean Gulls (flying up Room Bottom with Commons), 2 Buzzards (both sat in fields sheltering from the cold wind), 400 Rooks, 7 Fieldfares, Stonechat, 80+ distant Corn Buntings and 35 Yellowhammers.
Yellowhammer near Truleigh Hill
brightens up even the dullest day

Thursday 11 February. Shoreham Fort on a rising tide produced single Oystercatcher and Turnstone while the Adur was a little better with 7 Teal, 12 Ringed Plover, 74 Dunlin, 150 Herring Gulls including North Thames bird G2JT and a Sparrowhawk.