Sunday, 30 September 2012

Beachy Head (29-30 September 2012)

24-28 September.  Cycling to work produced 1 or 2 Peregrines on Southwick Power Station chimney most days, a Rock Pipit in Shoreham Harbour on 26th and a Chiffchaff by the lock gates on 27th.

29 September.  Beachy Head with John King, all main areas on top covered.  Sparrowhawk 2, Green Woodpecker 4, Sky Lark 9, Swallow 2500+, House Martin 1500+, Meadow Pipit 200, Yellow Wagtail 1W, Pied Wagtail 9W, Dunnock 14, Robin 17, Stonechat 19, Wheatear 1, Lesser Whitethroat 1 or 2 (in Shooter's Bottom), Whitethroat 1, Blackcap 25, Chiffchaff 24, Goldcrest 3, Blue Tit 23, Jay 4 (but we missed a flock of 13), Raven 3, Siskin 20W (with as many heard only).

Adur for evening low tide.  Bait-diggers 4, Cormorant 30N (to roost), Little Egret 2, Bar-tailed Godwit 1, Redshank 12, gulls very few.

30 September.  Beachy Head with John King, all main areas on top covered except the rides which were too windswept.  Sparrowhawk 2, Green Woodpecker 4, Great Spotted Woodpecker 3, Sky Lark 5, Sand Martin 2, Swallow 750+, House Martin 15, Meadow Pipit 100, Yellow Wagtail 1W, Pied Wagtail 14W, Stonechat 8, Wheatear 2, Reed Warbler 1, Whitethroat 1, Blackcap 12, Chiffchaff 30, Goldcrest 1, Raven 1, Siskin 3W (others heard only), Goldfinch 110, Corn Bunting 1.

Pulborough Brooks with John King.  Arrived after the Pectoral Sandpiper had flown off and left before it returned.  Egyptian Goose 2, Marsh Harrier 1 juvenile, Peregrine 1, Snipe 7, Ruff 1, Green Sandpiper 1, Jay 2.

Adur at Dacre Gardens/Passies Pond.  Little Egret 4.

Beachy Head lighthouse

Birling Gap and Seaford Head

Brown Hawker with damaged wings at Belle Tout

 resting on JK

Migrant Hawker at Belle Tout

Bar-tailed Godwit on the Adur showing its named feature

in evening light

Shoreham Old Toll Bridge and rising moon

Green Woodpecker on a Birling lawn

Egyptian Goose at Pulborough

distant Ruff at Pulborough (as most waders there are)

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Shoreham & Beachy (17-23 September 2012)

17-21 September: Little Egret by the lock gates on 17th, 2 Peregrines on Southwick Power Station chimney, 2 adult and 2 juvenile Ringed Plover on Southwick Beach on 17th (perhaps a bit much to hope that they were local breeders), 4 Sandwich Terns on 21st and single Wheatears on Hove pitch & put on 18-19th and Southwick Beach on 18th and 20th.  Also a Nuthatch heard in the Sussex House car park at work on 18th and 20th.

22 September:  I spent the morning birding 'the top' at Beachy with John King and John & David Cooper. JK and I also doing the cliff path and rides which added virtually nothing.  Birds seen included Great Spotted Woodpecker, 7 Sand Martins, 200 Swallows, 1000 House Martins, Whinchat, Wheatear, single Reed & Sedge Warblers, 5 Whitethroats, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 8 Blackcaps, 34 Chiffchaffs, Willow Warbler, 2 Goldcrests, Spotted Flycatcher, a Jay over Shooter's Bottom, 2 Ravens, 40 Goldfinches and 3 Siskins (heard).  

female Migrant Hawker at Belle Tout
23 September.  I seawatched from Widewater from 07.30-09.00 but the winds were not as strong as forecast and some of the action was taking place behind me with swallows moving east on a broad front.  I recorded 17 Gannets, 10 Brent Geese (8E & 2W, my first of the autumn), Common Scoter, 8 Sandwich Terns, 550+ Swallows, 30 House Martins, 2 Meadow Pipits (E), Wheatear, Chiffchaff and 17 Goldfinches (W).  A quick look at the Adur as the tide was falling produced a Red-breasted Merganser, 41 Ringed Plover (18 adults and 23 juveniles suggesting a good breeding season), 3 Dunlin, 30 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (29 adults) and 21 Swallows (E).  Megan and I then walked around Rackham in the rain seeing just 4 Long-tailed Tits in the woods and a Sand Martin and 200 Swallows over the brooks.

Red-breasted Merganser on the Adur opposite Shoreham airfield
juvenile and adult Wood Pigeon on our bird table

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Shoreham & Beachy (12-16 September 201 )

12-15 September.  Shoreham & Southwick:  1-2 Peregrines on the Power Station chimney most days, Dutch Black-headed Gull R3 on Widewater on 15th (seen by Jake Everett at Southwater in December 2009 and by me on the Adur in December 2011), North Thames Herring Gull RG9T on the Adur on 15th, 1 Common Sandpiper and a Yellow Wagtail on the Adur on 16th.  Hedgehog in our garden on 12th, Grey Squirrel on 16th when a Jay flew over the road.

16 September 2012.  Beachy Head.  Covered most of the top of the head from Birling to the Whitbread Hollow rides with John King (mostly in the excellent company of John & David Cooper and Brenda Kay) but it was hard work in a fresh westerly breeze with few migrants in evidence.  I saw Buzzard, Peregrine, 2 Curlew, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 2 Sand Martins, 75+ Swallows, 300+ Meadow Pipits, Tee Pipit, 8 Yellow Wagtails, Whinchat, 2 Wheatears, 2 Whitethroats, 7 Blackcaps, 30 dull Chiffchaffs, a superbly bright Willow Warbler and 40 Linnets.  Also a Weasel and the first Grey Squirrel I can remember seeing at Beachy.

Hedgehog or microphone windshield in our garden
very poor shot of Black-headed Gull R3 at Widewater
Herring Gull RG9T on the Adur.  It was ringed as a 3CY at Pitsea Landfill (Essex) inJanuary 2009 and seen at Beddington (Surrey) that February and at Warnham (West Sussex) in July 2009 and February 2012. 
Grey Squirrel on our bird table

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Red-footed Falcon at Chichester GP (11 September 2012)

I paid a visit to Chichester Gravel Pits before work to look for the Red-footed falcon and was not disappointed.  It was an excellent bird and I watched it from 06:50 to 07:55 before reluctantly dragging myself away.

nothing like a good scratch in the morning!

Monday, 10 September 2012

FRANCE September 2012: St. Valery-sur-Somme

A family holiday based in a mobile home at Drancourt, just outside St. Valery-sur-Somme, would hopefully offer some slightly different birding to Sussex without having to travel too far (although including a delay on the ferry it took about as long to get to as it normally would to Cornwall).

We had excellent weather, although unchanging sunshine and light winds wasn’t good for migrants.  Neither were neap tides helpful in viewing waders in the massive Baie de Somme.

Areas visited looking for birds were the area around Drancourt, coastal pools of Hable D’Ault, pine forest and beach at Marquenterre, the small promontory of Le Hourdel, mudflats & roadside pools at La Maye, marshes at Sailly-Bray and the Forest of Crechy.  Megan and I also visited Eu, Abbeville and Ramburelles while I dipped out of trips to City Europe and Sea Centre Nausicaa (in Calais & Boulogne respectively). 

We had an enjoyable time and I saw 65-80 species each day and about 110 in total, including several I don’t often see in Sussex. 

At Drancourt at least 3 Hen Harriers including a fine male were seen hunting over the fields behind the camp site as were 2 Hobbies with several coveys of Grey Partridges, 1200 Lapwing and 2 Wheatears, but no buntings at all (none were seen all trip).  Around the campsite were at least 3 vocal Tawny Owls, a House Martin colony, a Lesser Whitethroat, a family of 4 Spotted Flycatchers, pair of Crested Tits, our only Coal Tits (a flock of 5) and up to 5 Serins, including a male.  On our last morning 22 Jays flew south including a flock of 13.

We couldn’t find how to get close to the marsh at Sailly-Bray although as there was a shooting party there I’m not really sure that we wanted to.  A Hobby over nearby fields was some compensation.  We saw our only Red Squirrels in woodland at Ramburelles along with another Spotted Flycatcher family and lots of Nuthatches.  A couple of hours walking in Crecy Forest produced 2 Firecrests, 7 Marsh and 3 Crested Tits (with no pines in sight!) and 7 Nuthatches.  A large raptor flushed inside the forest might have been a Honey Buzzard but disappointingly didn’t give identifiable views.

Our visit to Hable D’Ault produced a Wood Sandpiper, 8 Black Terns and a Wheatear but almost every pool had a pillbox overlooking a flock of plastic ducks.  Life expectancy of wildfowl there probably isn’t great.  The good weather made Le Hourdel pretty much a waste of time with a single Tree Pipit the best migrant seen during two visits although distant Spoonbills were seen from the western side of the Baie both times, along with thousands of gulls, usually too far out to check through (the one colour-ring seen was too distant to read) although Yellow-legged and Mediterranean Gulls were seen a couple of times.

On the east side of the Baie de Somme (predominantly from La Maye), despite unhelpful tides, I saw 2 Little Stints and 5 Curlew Sandpipers amongst Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin and Turnstone.  The shore hides overlooking the reserve at Marquenterre produced a Great White and 4 Cattle Egrets, 120 Spoonbills, 1000 Knot, 500 Black-tailed Godwit, 15 Greenshank and a Kingfisher.  The pines in this area (predominantly the car park and along the northern edge where a long path leads to the sea) were good for Crested Tits with 12 seen over two visits.  Crested Tit seems much commoner than Coal Tits in pines and was seen in deciduous trees too (at Crecy) which makes its distribution in the UK somewhat puzzling.  More so as ‘Continental’ Coal Tit always looks a more robust species than ours, yet ours seems to have ousted Crested Tits, or prevented them spreading, in a way that CCT clearly hasn’t.

The best site I found was a roadside pool just north of La Crotoy and just before the La Maye turning.  Here over three short visits I saw 2 White Storks, a Spotted Crake, a Water Rail, 6 Black-winged Stilts, 7 Black Terns and last but not least, on a stop on our last morning, 82 Jays flying south including a loose flock of 54.

Abbeville Cathedral, no birds here
Eu, none here either 

Ramburelles 'castle', we didn't appreciate it was closed from 12.30-2pm and after looking around the grounds had to climb out over the side of the gate
a family of Spotted flycatchers were hunting from the turrets

St. Valery-sur-Somme harbour and tourist steam train

fields behind Drancourt

Megan looking for Hares (and flushing Grey Partridges) behind Drancourt
Crecy Forest

Colour-ringed Black-headed Gull at St. Valery, probably of Polish origin, Yellow-legged Gull behind
most likely TAJW
shooter's bunker and plastic ducks, a common sight on any open water outside of a reserve in the Baie de Somme area. It doesn't seem very sporting to me but maybe the wildfowl shoots back?
Black-winged Stilt on roadside pool north of Le Crotoy
one of  four present on our second visit
White Stork at the same location
one of two seen on our second visit
Spotted Crake on the same pool, my first for 15 years but well worth the wait

impersonating a puffer fish

perhaps not entirely unexpected but a very nice surprise all the same