Saturday, 24 December 2011

Shoreham, East Head & West Dean Woods (23-24 December 2011)

Monday 19 December.  Encounter with black ice cycling to work resulted in a hairline fracture of left ulna - inconvenient as left handed but at least it doesn't need plaster. 

Friday 23 December. Tried Adur saltings by the houseboats at high tide and the Adur by the airport at low tide. The weather was poor on both occassions despite being brighter during the day. The high tide was only high enough to reveal just one snipe with an adult Mediterranean Gull and Kingfisher the only notable sightings. The low tide was just after dark and pre-roost gulls were particularly jumpy. The biggest flock, including 80 Lesser Black-backs, was north of the footbridge opposite Ricardo's. Low tides are now in darkness until the end of the month.

Grey Heron on Adur Saltings
Herring Gull on Adur saltings
Mediterranean Gull on Adur saltings
Saturday 24 December.  Taking advantage of a reasonable day - some sunshine and less wind - John King and I went to East Head.  It was a very popular choice with dog walkers and birds were generally disappointing with only one Great Crested Grebe seen in the chanel and 40 Red-breasted Mergansers off Pilsea.  On Snowhill Marsh we saw single Greenshank and Spotted Redshank but the sun made viewing harder than normal.  Brent numbers seemed low, which made them easy to check through but nothing unusual was with them.  The marsh area in the dune slacks was much drier than usual, and also heavily disturbed, but we saw the three Snow Buntings by the fenced area at the far end of East Head - for about 15 seconds before they were flushed by dog and walker.  JK picked out a colour ringed/flagged Sanderling amongst c30 others on the beach but they too were flushed before I could get a photo.  Returning to the harbour entrance for a final scan we found the Snow Buntings on the undisturbed beach below us where they gave excellent views making the visit worthwhile after all.  We continued to West Dean Woods where we saw 4 Red Kites, 8 Buzzards, 4 Marsh Tits, 2 Raven and a Redpoll but unfortunately no other finches of note.  Frustratingly a Little Owl was heard calling from the usual tree but must have been in a hole as we couldn't see it despite much searching. 

Snow Buntings at East Head, digiscoping doesn't help with depth of focus 

Happy Christmas!

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