Sunday, 27 May 2012

Southwick, Birling, Seaford and Pulborough (21-27 May 2012)

Monday 21-Friday 25 May.  Highlights cycling to work were a singing male Black Redstart on 21st and 25th (by the Tarmac/Hanson building and on Shed 7 respectively), singing Rock Pipit on Shed 7 on 24th and both Peregrines on 4 days.  Also up to 12 Swifts daily over the road/house.

Friday 25 May.  The Black-tailed Godwit was still on the Adur along with a Common Sandpiper and a colour-ringed Herring Gull although by the time the latter was seen the light was too poor to read it.

Saturday 26 May.  Birling and Belle Tout.  After seeing nothing up the lane at Birling John King and I were joined seawatching by a full set of Coopers.  Between 06:45-09:30 I saw 2 Garganey, a Bonxie, 110 Common Scoter, 15 Shoveler, 24 Sanderling, 3 Mediterranean Gulls (flying west) and 3 Little Terns.  Belle Tout was very quiet with just a few Swifts and hirundines flying east and breeding Stonechats (7 including a pair with 3 young), Whitethroats, Lesser Whitethoats.  Arlington was very quiet, the Osprey not making an appearance in the 90 minutes we were there.  After tea I went to Pulborough where Gordon Beck pointed out the Temminck's Stint to me (unfortunately at the 'usual' range).  A Nightingale performed very well as did a male Nightjar by the mound at dusk.

Sunday 27 May.  With the promise of a southeasterly and a few birds moving off Beachy yesterday John King and I seawatched at Seaford from 6-10.   A distant small skua caused some excitement but never came close enough to ascertain any detail and in all probability was just an Arctic, but one can dream ...  We also failed to get onto the Roseate Tern later seen off Birling.  We did see a nice first-summer Little Gull, 11 Knot, 8 Sanderling, 31 Common Scoter, 38 Sandwich Terns, 35 Common Terns, 4 Razorbills, 1 Guillemot and 78 Gannets.  11 Swifts over the road this evening.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Shoreham & Southwick (13-20 May 2012)

Sunday 13 May.  Struggling with a cold I stayed local hoping there might be some tern passage as the wind went around to south-west.  Little was moving off Shoreham Harbour in the hour from 7am with just two Sandwich Terns hanging around. A flock of 18 Common Scoter flew east, 6 Turnstones flew over the harbour and a Peregrine came in from the sea and continued inland, presumably not one of the Southwick birds (one of which was seen on the chimney).  The platform at sea off Lancing seemed to be more visible than usual with a tall tower above it noticeable for the first time.

sea platform and tower from Shoreham Harbour
A stop at the Adur on the way home was surprisingly productive considering the tide wasn't very far out.  Single Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel and Common Sandpiper were seen along with three summer-plumaged Sanderling and 8 Ringed Plovers while a Reed Warbler gave excellent views from one of the ditches.

poor shot of a summer-plumaged Sanderling on the Adur
Black-tailed Godwit on the Adur, all legs and bill
Black-tailed Godwit with tasty morsel

showing its black tail
Reed Warbler by the Adur

In the afternoon Megan and I heard a Lesser Whitethroat while walking around Mill Hill but nothing else of note was in evidence.

Monday 14 May. Ringed Plover on nest & Whimbrel heard

Tuesday 15 May. Ringed Plover on nest, adult male Black Redstart singing from Tarmac compound, female Wheatear on the beach, Rock Pipit by Carots Cafe & Peregrine heard from the chimney

Wednesday 16 May. Ringed Plover on nest, adult male Black Redstart singing from Tarmac compound & female Wheatear on the beach

Thursday 17 May.  no Ringed Plover (nest predated?), 1 Sandwich Tern off Hove, 6 Swifts over Crown Road

Friday 18 May.  1 Ringed Plover on the beach (none at nest site), Peregrine on chimney & 4 Swifts over Crown Road

Saturday 19 May.  14 Sandwich Terns east and 2 west and a Gannet east were all that was seen off the Harbour between 06:10-07.10.  Three colour-ringed Herring Gulls were around the harbour, one local and two North Thames although one of the latter was too far away to read.

The Adur on a rising tide was better with the Black-tailed Godwit still present along with 6 Whimbrel, a Greenshank and a first-summer Med Gull.  Two slow-worms were seen at the allotment and 15 Swifts were screaming over Crown Road in the evening.

local Herring Gull A6XV on the beach at Shoreham Harbour

North Thames Herring Gull GU5T on Shoreham Harbour
first-summer Mediterranean Gull on the River Adur
Black-tailed Godwit on the Adur

much the rarer of the two godwits on the Adur, this one seems to have taken up residence just south of the Old Toll Bridge
female Reed Bunting by the Adur
male Reed Bunting by the Adur

buntings are amongst my favourite birds and Reed is often one of the more under-appreciated members of the family although a good view of an adult male usually reveals a stunning bird
20 May 2012.  Still not over a cold and uninspired by the NE forecast I didn't go far again.  An hour seawatch, 06:05-07:05, from Shoreham Harbour produced 3 Fulmars, 55 Gannets, 2 Sandwich Terns and a flock of 19 Commic Terns flying east.  Three Great Crested Grebes were on the sea, the male Peregrine on the chimney and 3 Little Egrets and 2 Turnstone around the harbour.  Amongst the gulls on the East Arm was a Norwegian Greater Black-backed.  The Black-tailed Godwit was still on the Adur but there was no sign of any other waders.  A couple of bait diggers was perhaps the reason although later a walk around the Adur and the Houseboats with Megan produced just the godwit, 3 Swallows and Reed and Sedge Warblers.

Norwegian Greater Black-backed Gull JP188 seen on the East Arm of Shoreham Harbour.  Colour-rings are much harder to read on birds here than on the Adur as they are generally just that bit further away.  Early morning light, as experienced here, doesn't help either.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Crawley and Pagham (12 May 2012)

Saturday 12 May.  Not having seen a Wood Warbler since 2008 I decided those at Buchan Park, Crawley presented too good an opportunity to miss.  I picked up John King at Hickstead and we were on site by 06:45.  Two birds performed almost continually in the two hours we were there.   Despite being almost constantly on the move I did manage to get some reasonable digiscoped images, along with lots of branches two seconds too late.  the only minor disappointment was that road noise

Wood Warbler at Buchan Park, the furthest bird from the car park, pager commentary courtesy of JK

Wood Warbler at Buchan Park, the nearer bird to the car park, nothing on the pager

Digital Voice Recording - better quality than the video but the only disadvantage of Buchan Park is the road (and plane) noise

why do they always turn their heads away on the best shots

note to self: make sure you don't go 4 years before seeing another one!

Buoyed  by our success we decided to push our luck and try for the Glossy Ibis at Pagham and Rose-coloured Starling at Selsey but a reasonable search for both failed to produce a sighting, although we may only have spent 50 minutes at Selsey despite it seeming more like 3 days.  There were few migrants at Pagham but a Nightjar that had been found halfway down the west side was a rare daylight occurrence for me.  Also at Pagham we saw an Avocet, a Black-tailed Godwit, 12 Bar-tailed Godwits, 12 Whimbrel, 3 Little Terns, a vocal Cuckoo and a Cetti's Warbler.
Sedge Warbler at the North Wall, Pagham Harbour.  Note the metal ring
roosting Nightjar Pagham Harboir west side

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Seaford & cycling to work (07-11 May 2012)

Monday 7 May.  Forecast SE at last so Martyn Kenefick and I met John King at Splash Point at 05.30.  Tony Wilson and Ewan Urquhart where already ensconced, and had been since (before?) first light.  Considering the SE did eventually arrive, just, it was a rather disappointing seawatch, especially for terns.  We stuck it out until 13.00 by which time I'd recorded the following flying east: 38 Black-throated Divers, 1 Red-throated Diver, 3 diver sp., 178 Gannets, 1 Little Egret, 2 Canada Geese, 15 Brent Geese, 8 Shelduck, 397 Common Scoter, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Avocets (at 06:20), 9 Sanderling, 31 Whimbrel, 47 Bar-tailed Godwits, 5 Pomarine Skuas (pale & 06:09, pale & dark at 06:11, pale at 06:50 and dark at 09:40), 4 Arctic Skuas (all dark), 2 Great Skuas (08:16 & 09:30), 1 Mediterannena Gull (1st summer), 1 Little Gull (1st summer), 22 Sandwich Terns, 46 Commic Terns, 6 Little Terns, 7 Razorbills, 1 Guillemot and 31 auk sp.  2 Hobbies flew north as did 4 Swallows and a Wheatear was on the cliff edge.

From 16:00-17:00 Megan and I walked along the beach behind Southwick Power Station seeing a Peregrine on the chimney, 2 Sandwich Terns and 4 Wheatears.  I'd hoped that tern passage might have picked up but it didn't appear to have done so.

Tuesday 8 May.  Left home early and watched off Hove but only 1 Sandwich Tern east and a flock of 16 Common Scoter west during 06:00-07:00 so I left and was in work early.  12 Wheatears on Southwick Beach on the way home, one of the Peregrines on the chimney and 3 Sandwich Terns offshore.

Wednesday 9 May.  On the way to work I stopped for a superb male Whinchat on Southwick Beach where there were still 3 Wheatears.

Thursday 10 May.  Still a male Wheatear on Southwick Beach where earth moving vehicles are messing up the Ringed Plover habitat.  Herring Gull A4AJ was seen for the second time by the University entrance.

Friday 11 May.  A Rock Pipit singing from Shed 7 and a Peregrine on the chimney on the way to work. A Ringed Plover sitting tight on the beach with 3 Dunlin by the tideline.  Walking up the road to the letterbox this evening I was delighted to see (and hear) a Swifts overhead.  Welcome back.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Southwick, Seaford and Beachy (04-06 May 2012)

Friday 4 May:  32 Common and 22 Sandwich Terns east in a brief look at the sea before work, coming home was much better with a Reed and a washed out northern Willow Warbler in the tamarisks and 13 Wheatears, a female Common Redstart and an probably Chiffchaff on Southwick Beach.  Pity I'd had to go to work in between.

Saturday 5 May:  44 Common Terns and 6 Common Scoter flew east in a wet 90 minutes at Splash Point, Seaford.  Martyn Kenefick, John King and I  went on to Beachy where we saw a Hobby, 3 Swifts, 2 Short-eared Owls, 2 Tawny Owls, a Black Redstart, 14 Wheatears, 5 Garden Warblers, 20 Whitethroats and a Lesser Whitethroat.  It was hard to find any sheltered areas in a strong NE wind and there was probably a lot more present but keeping out of site.  An evening visit to the Adur produced few gulls, just one Redshank and a low flying Swift heading north.

Sunday 6 May.  Another damp north-easterly.  I picked up Martyn Kenefick and we met John King at Seaford.  With just a Great Crested Grebe, 3 Sanderling and a pack of 17 Commic Terns east between 6-7 am it was no surprise that we were the only seawatchers present.   We relocated to Beachy where a good selection of migrants were seen including 4 Hobbies, a Turtle Dove (hopefully not the only one I see this year), 5 Swifts, 44 Yellow Wagtails, 3 Whinchats, 18 Wheatears, a Garden Warbler and 25 Whitethroats (of which 8 were feeding on the grassy cliff edge).  Also seen was a peregrine and the two Tawny Owls.  An evening visit to the Adur produced 1 bait-digger, 1 little egret, no waders and a few gulls.

Hobby on the cliff edge near Belle Tout
The pale nape and orange rather than red vent suggest that this is a 2CY bird returning to Britain for the first time.  Welcome back, although I'm sure you'd prefer it to be warmer!

Tawny Owls at Beachy

nowhere seemed to give a clear view
Whinchat at Birling.  Very nice to see in the spring, I usually have to wait until autumn
Yellow Wagtail at Birling.  Very nice to see males in the spring, I often have to wait until autumn for a perched view of this species
typical female Yellow Wagtail
a greyer, paler female flava
easy to imagine this one being a female Blue-headed but can one be sure?
the very pale ear-coverts give this bird a quite distinctive look
no mistaking a White-tailed Wagtail though!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Pulborough Nightingales (01 May 2012)

Tuesday 1 May - the first nice evening in ages and what better way to spend it that listening to, and looking at, Nightingales at Pulborough

Nightingale catching the evening sun at Pulborough