Sunday, 29 January 2012

Selsey peninsular and Blackdown (28-29 January 2012)

Saturday 28 January.  John King and I had a day out in West Sussex.  First stop was Ivy Lake where a look from the road added Gadwall, Pochard, Tufted Duck and Coot to my year list!  We drove on down to Selsey Bill where there were 5 somewhat distant Great Northern Divers and 8 Red-breasted Mergansers on the sea.  A few auks were buzzing past well beyond identifiable range and a probably Black-throated Diver flew west but it was rather quiet so we moved on to Church Norton where the tide was just starting to come in. Three Slavonian Grebes were seen on the sea and 6 Goldeneye, 2 Avocets, 500 Golden Plover, 1000 Knot and a Black-tailed Godwit in the harbour.  With the tide 1/3 of the way in we moved on to Fishbourne but were somewhat dismayed to find most of the creek already filled.  Nine Goldeneye were in the channel and eventually a Spotted Redshank and Little Stint were found amongst the other waders present, the latter creeping around in vegetation rather than being on the water's edge.  Next stop was Burton Mill Pond to look for the bittern but just as we got into the car park I got a call from home saying a friend had phoned to say there was a Parrot Crossbill at Blackdown. Not knowing where - it is a big area - and not having their number it seemd a long shot but we decided we might as well go as although it was gone 3pm we were only 15 miles away (less if we'd not taken a wrong turn).  We aimlessly wandered around in fading light but there was no sign of any crossbills, or other birders.

Great Northern Divers off Selsey
breeding plumage Cormorant at Pagham
London Plane at Apuldram church, note the spherical fruits
Sunday 29 January.  Having found out where the Parrot Crosbill had been seen I met John King north of Shoreham and we drove back to Blackdown.  The crossbill visited the area around the drinking pool, off the Sussex Border Path, twice during the morning.  It remained in the area for 20-30 minutes on each ocassion but was usually obscured and always in poor light.  Consequently digiscoping efforts were poor and frustratingly I never caught it in full profile although it gave reasonable scope views.  Two wing-barred male Crossbills were also present amonst the 40-50 birds seen.  We left at 2pm and stopped on the main road just east of Pulborough to scan the geese on the North Brooks.  Here we picked out two distant groups of White-fronts (13 birds in each) and the Pink-foot.  Feeling lucky we dropped down to Amberley and found 3 Ruff on the Brooks although they too were distant.  I then finished at Beeding Brooks in fading light were I saw 2 Short-eared Owls and 9 Little Egrets flying south to roost.

unfortunately most of my Parrot Crossbill photos are like this
inflated bill visible with some/a lot of imagination
even when side on it managed to hide its bill
a more typical view, showing the thick neck and large head or is that wishful thinking?

3 video stills when its head was in profile
male wing-barred Crossbill
female Crossbill
Short-eared Owl at Beeding Brooks in fading light

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