Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Mostly Widewater and Mill Hill (09-12 May)

Wednesday 12 May. I took Cookie to West Mill and we walked out to the Downslink and back. I'd hoped to see Turtle Dove but didn't even hear one although I met others who had been successful just before I arrived and returned. I did see a Nightingale (briefly and heard 3 others), 2 Cetti's Warblers (and heard a third), 13 Swifts, 7 Lapwings, 3 Swallows, Reed Warbler, Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting. As it was a warm sunny afternoon and having been told about Green Hairstreaks on Mill Hill Megan and I decided to have a look and took Cookie. We failed despite meeting a couple who had seen one. Grizzled and Dingy Skippers were some compensation and I saw Lesser Whitethroat after three visits of only hearing one. Also seen were 2 House Martins, 6 Whitethroats, a Mistle Thrush, a pair of Bullfinches and the singing male Yellowhammers seems to have a mate. In the evening I went to Lavington Common for the first of my Woodcock Surveys. I saw one Woodcock poorly and hear it/another, saw two Nightjars and heard another and heard two Tawny Owls

one of many Painted Ladies seen at West Mill
Reed Bunting near the Downslink

Yellowhammer on Mill Hill. This bird has been singing almost continually on most visits this spring so it was very pleasing to finally see a female nearby
Grizzled Skipper on Mill Hill
Dingy Skipper on Mill Hill
Lesser Whitethroat on Mill Hill, not the best view but most welcome after three visits of only hearing one
Mistle Thrush in the wood on Mill Hill. Fortunately it stayed long enough for me to manually focus on it
male Nightjar at Lavington

Tuesday 11 May. I joined Steve at Widewater and seawatched from 06:55-09:20 in a moderate SSE backing SSW wind. I saw a Brent Goose81 Common Scoter, Great Crested Grebe, 8 Sanderling, 2 first-summer Mediterranean Gulls, 16 Sandwich Terns, 2 pale-morph Arctic Skuas (together), an unidentified diver and 115 Gannets. All were flying east. I met Megan and Cookie at Harbour Way and we walked to the Adur Ferry Bridge and back along the boardwalk to the Fort seeing 3 Oystercatchers, Peregrine and 3 Linnets. Both Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls appeared to be nesting amongst the Herrings on the factory rooves opposite Harbour Way.

Monday 10 May. I seawatched at Widewater from 06:40-08:40 in a moderate southerly wind. It was quiet until a distant pale-morph skua flew east. Frustratingly it looked quite bulky and was almost certainly the Pomarine I later discovered had been seen passing Selsey then Goring at times one would expect were it the same. Otherwise my two hours produced 6 Common Scoter, 22 Sandwich Terns, 4 distant auks, a Fulmar, 42 Gannets and a Swallow passing east. Four Kittiwakes, 4 Common Gulls and 6 Sandwich Terns also flew west. Returning home Megan and I took Cookie to a dull, breezy Mill Hill which was very quiet, in contrast to the previous day (see below). I heard a Lesser and saw a Common Whitethroat. In the afternoon I spent a pleasant afternoon at Frank and Lia's wedding reception. Great to catch up with Colin and Cordelia too.

Sunday 09 May. I seawatched at Widewater from 05:50-08:20 in a moderate southerly wind seeing 101 Common ScoterGreat Crested Grebe, an immature Kittiwake, 2 first-summer Mediterranean Gulls, 40 Sandwich Terns, 3 Arctic Skuas ( a pale and two dark morphs), a Razorbill, 2 Fulmars and 39 Gannets, mostly passing east. I returned home and took Cookie to Mill Hill (Megan had gone up to London). There I recorded 2 Swifts, Buzzard, Kestrel, Sky Lark, Swallow, Long-tailed Tit, Chiffchaff, 6 Blackcaps, a Lesser (heard) and 8 Common Whitethroats, Greenfinch, 3 Linnets, 3 Goldfinches and a Yellowhammer. At low tide I took Cookie to the Adur where we saw Oystercatcher, 4 Ringed Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 2 Dunlin, Redshank and Little Egret. Scoping Lancing College I just about made out several House Martins flying low over the buildings

Blackcap at Mill Hill
Common Blue
Dingy Skipper

Yellowhammer at Mill Hill

Whimbrel on the Adur

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Shoreham, Beeding Hill, Knepp and Shoreham (04-08 May)

Saturday 08 May. A SE forecast had me thinking of seawatching but heavy rain rather put me off going to Seaford. I met Frank Lambert at Widewater just before 6am and we sheltered rather unsuccessfully for a couple of hours before giving up, rather drenched with the wind half way around to SW. In very difficult viewing conditions, not helped by trying to hold up an umbrella (Frank was in the more sheltered side of the beach hut), I saw 3 Common Scoter and single Whimbrel, Sandwich Tern and dark morph Arctic Skua flying east. About 6 Fulmars and 30 Gannets were off-shore while 3 Oystercatchers, 14 Whimbrel and about 75 small waders flew west along the beach. The latter were in two tight groups and were all or mostly Dunlin. After drying out back home Megan and I took Cookie to Brooklands which was quite sheltered and dry. We saw a drake Gadwall, 3 groups of Mallard ducklings (12, 8 and 7 in ascending size) and a Cetti's and 2 Reed Warblers. At low tide I took Cookie down to the Adur where by the airport waders were performing by numbers: 1 Redshank, 2 Oystercatchers, 3 Common Sandpipers and 4 Whimbrel. Ringed Plover didn’t get the memo and 9 turned up.

Whimbrel on the Adur


Friday 07 May. Six hours wandering around the southern section of Knepp was fairly hard work, at least as far as seeing the more interesting species. A cold wind probably wasn't helping and was it warmed up other visitors arrived. I eventually saw pretty much what I'd hoped to but views could have been better. I saw 2 Cuckoos, 6 Stock and 2 Turtle Doves, 3 Buzzards, 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 3 Jays, 2 Swallows, 5 Long-tailed Tits, 4 Chiffchaff, 4 Blackcaps, 2 Garden Warblers (eventually), a Lesser and 13 Common Whitethroats, Mistle Thrush, 3 Nightingales (and another 5 heard), Nuthatch, 2 Treecreepers and 3 Bullfinches. Distant Cuckoo and Turtle Dove were also heard well away from the footpaths as were 5 close Nightingales that I failed to see.

Cuckoos at Knepp, I'd hoped for better views but they didn't hang about
out of focus Turtle Dove at Knepp, seen too briefly to switch to manual focus
Nightingale at Knepp

the same bird a little later

Tamworth Pigs at Knepp
introduced storks were hard to ignore
stunning male Bullfinch at Knepp

Garden Warbler at Knepp, another requiring manual focus

Bluebells near Knepp

Thursday 06 May. Megan, Cookie and I walked around and through Tottington Wood. Loads of Bluebells and a few Early Purple Orchids but as many birds heard as seen. Green Woodpecker, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Nightingale and Nuthatch were heard while Red-legged Partridge, 2 Stock Doves, 5 Jays and a Whitethroat were seen.

a Red-legged Partridge was a bit of a surprise at Tottington

Wednesday 05 May. I dropped Megan at Shoreham Station and took Cookie up to the Beeding Hill Car Park. We headed SE along the Monarch's Way and at its highest point were greeted by a stunning but somewhat unapproachable male Whinchat, my first in spring for four years. Four Wheatears were nearby and we later saw another two. We continued towards Thundersbarrow, up to Truleigh Hill where we overlooked the Weald (looking down on 37 Rook's nests) and back along the rim of Room Bottom - our usual triangle. Other species seen during on our 3.5 hour wander included Red Kite, Green Woodpecker, 3 Peregrines, Jay, 2 Ravens, 11 Sky Larks, a Lesser and 3 Common Whitethroats, 2 Meadow Pipits and a Yellowhammer.

Wheatears on Beeding Hill

male Whinchat on Beeding Hill
a stunning bird but not very approachable

Meadow Pipit above Room Bottom

Tuesday 04 May. I seawatched at Widewater in a strong westerly wind from 06:30-09:20. Little was moving within sight of me although watching a Hobby and 3 Swifts coming in from great distance made my visit more than worthwhile. A Kestrel and 3 Whimbrel also came in, the former providing an initial puzzle. Thirty-five Common Scoter, a Kittiwake and a Little Egret flew east with 5 Dunlin west, 3 Sandwich Terns, 5 Fulmars and 25 Gannets off-shore and a Great Crested Grebe on the sea. I met Megan and Cookie at Harbour Way and we walked our usual circuit along Emerald Quay to the Adur Ferry Bridge and back via the boardwalk and Shoreham Fort. Doing this I saw 2 Ringed Plover and 3 Dunlin at Harbour Way, a Whimbrel from the Ferry Bridge and 17 Turnstones near the Fort. On the way home Cookie and I stopped at the Adur seeing 2 Whimbrel opposite the airport.

first-summer Common Gull off Widewater
virtually all Common Gulls seen recently, and there have not been that many, are this age
Dunlin at Harbour Way
Turnstone near Shoreham Fort
Whimbrel on the Adur