Sunday, 25 November 2012

Shoreham & Selsey (24-25 November 2012)

24 November. Poor weather restricted my birding to an afternoon low tide visit to the River Adur to check the gulls which was made difficult by poor light (at 2.30pm!!).  About 750 Herrings were present including two colour-rings: black A2FA on white (a local bird I'd read before) and black PH1T on red (North Thames) while the 70+ Greater Black-backs included an unreadable/faded Norwegian ring.   A2FA was ringed as an orphan in Hastings in August 2003 and seen in Cambridgeshire that November, at back at Hastings in September 2005, at Dungeness in April 2007 and on the Adur in December 2010 and November 2011.  Perhaps it is establishing a pattern of late autumn/early winter visits to Shoreham?  The other gulls included an adult (or near adult) Yellow-legged, a species that had become very scarce on the Adur in recent years.

North Thames Herring Gull PH1T, a new one for me but light too poor to get a readable photo
apparent adult Yellow-legged Gull
I never saw it stretch its wings or raise its head although it opened a pale eye once.  Perhaps a fulll adult would have brighter legs?
25 November.  The forecast wasn't much better but to be sure we got out John King and I went to Selsey where seawatching in difficult conditions (strong W wind) from 8-10 produced good views of 3 Great Northern Divers and 3 Velvet Scoter (my first for the year).  Also a Red-throated Diver, 3 diver sp., 70 Common Scoter, 12 Red-breasted Mergansers and 2 Mediterranean Gulls.  We then switched to Church Norton (sea and spit) for a couple of hours before the rain really set in.  The harbour was quiet with the main interest being 66+ Mediterranean Gulls (all appearing to be adults) roosting inside the harbour entrance.  The sea was quiet too with a flyby Great Northern Diver but Great Crested the only grebe and Red-breasted Merganser the only sea-duck.  A quick look at Ivy Lake produced only Gadwall and Tufted Duck amongst the very many Coot while the tide was too high on the Adur, and the weather and prospect of the Brazilian Grand Prix not conducive to waiting for it to fall.

adult Mediterrancen Gulls roosting inside Pagham Harbour entrance
blink and one's gone

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Adur (18 November 2012)

18 November. After yesterday's excitement of 7 colour-ringed gulls on the Adur at low tide I was hopeful of seeing some more today but there were only 150-200 gulls present and the only CR was Greater Black-backed Gull "C".  Two Peregrines flew over heading west, presumably from Southwick Power Station, and a Grey Wagtail was heard.  Between visiting the tip and our allotment I had a quick look for the Black-necked Grebe on Southwick Canal but only saw 4 Little Grebes and a Peregrine on the chimney (as I had a couple of times going to work).  A Redpoll was heard flying over the allotment while a walk round the Adur with Megan in the afternoon produced very little - not unexpectedly as the tide was high.

Jersey ringed Greater Black-backed Gull C
Grey Plover, one of 7 seen on the Adur today
Lapwing and Common Snipe on the Adur, the latter are infrequently seen away from the  saltings by the houseboats
a smart bird when seen well

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Amberley Crane and the Adur CR Gulls (17 November 2013)

17 November.  Another wait for the weekend to get a chance to look for a decent bird in the county, this time the Common Crane, found at Amberley by David Cooper and Brenda Kay the previous Sunday afternoon.  It was showing moderately well on the Wild Brooks out from the Sportsman from soon after dawn and although the light was very poor it didn't detract from the stateliness of the species (but then all cranes are excellent).  The light hadn't improved much by 08:30 when I left, needing to get into Shoreham, Lancing and if possible Worthing before noon, so photo opportunities were very limited.  On the way back to Shoreham I called in at the Adur as it was low tide.  After numerous visits without seeing a colour-ringed gull there were 7 present (3 Greater Black-backs and 4 Herrings, 3 new, 4 I've previously recorded) amongst 800+ gulls which also included an adult Mediterranean Gull.  Cycling back from Worthing there were 135+ Sanderling on the beach by Widewater.  Not bad for a day that was mainly taken up with chores!

can I claim two cranes?  This image, ExIf will show was taken at 1/15th of a second, would seem to suggest there were two, or would if one was to believe that camera shake doesn't occur at this shutter speed (or maybe that is just for flying gulls)?

Common Crane about to 'jump' a ditch, I was very pleased it hung on to the weekend

an impressive bird even if the light did photography no favours

Greater Black-backed Gull "C", from a Jersey scheme but other identifying ring lost, seen previously on the Adur in  November 2009 (when adult) and October and December 2011

Greater Black-backed Gull JY22.  Ringed as a chick in Vest-Agder, Norway in June 2006 and seen on the Adur in November 2010 and September, October and November 2011
Greater Black-backed Gull JE627.  Another Norwegian bird, ringed as a chick in Vest-Agder in July 2010 and not one I've recorded before
metal ringed Herring Gull, I'm surprised any gulls ringed these days are not given a colour-ring too although maybe it was lost?
Herring Gull 0977, seen on the Adur in July 2012, ringed as an adult a landfill site in Buckinghamshire in January 2004 so it is at least 13 years old
Herring Gull WY4T, a North Thames bird I've not encountered before although I did see WR4T at Shoreham Harbour in February 2012.  This one was ringed as an adult at Rainham Landfill, Essex on 3 November 2012, just two weeks previously.
amongst the legs is Herring Gull SH5T, ringed as a 1CY at Pitsea, Essex in September 2009 and seen on the Adur in  October 2011 and April 2012
Herring Gull 3FA8, a new one for me, ringed as a 2CY at Chouet Landfill, Guernsey on 23 May 2012

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Pagham North Wall and Shoreham Harbour (11 November 2012)

11 November.  An early call from David Cooper telling me the Hooded Merganser had reappeared at Pagham had me heading down to the North Wall again.  An incoming text and a call on the way had me worried it was news that it had flown off but thankfully it was John King checking that I'd heard.  Fortunately it was on view when I arrived, although not so fortunately it was the nearest bird!  It was on view pretty much the whole time I was there and although often the closest bird, feeding just off the sluice, it didn't really do anything to disgrace itself and was somewhat more impressive than I was expecting.  It flew out into the harbour several times although on each occasion it soon flew back.  I left after 90 minutes or so and headed back to Shoreham in time for a walk to the Harbour East Arm with Megan where we saw 4 Purple Sandpipers, 35 Turnstones and a distant unreadable North Thames colour-ringed Herring Gull.  Then it was off to my dad's for an 88th birthday family get together where a Jay on their Hove lawn was a bonus.

how one first wants to see a Hooded Merganser, swimming away
the bright light made photography difficult as the bird was often in its own shadow

it was very active diving near the sluice
going, gone ...
brilliant crest
keeping a careful eye on the birders
so where were you yesterday?

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Pagham North Wall and West Dean Woods (10 November 2012)

10 November.  Martyn Kenefick and I went to Pagham to look for the Hooded Merganser that had been present during the week and John King came along for the ride, having seen it on Thursday.  We dipped although not seeing it was a disappointment quickly dismissed with recollections of  frame-filler photos of it next to Mallards!  It is impossible to be sure and this bird as some things going for it (age, time of year) but to me fails to score on wariness and location while the jury is out on length of stay if it has gone missing rather than gone.  Of those recorded in Britain one could argue that only the Hebridean bird scores a perfect 5/5.  Equally this bird seems no worse than the accepted (or recent) Kent record or many Red-breasted Geese or Blue-winged Teal.

Despite no merganser we had an enjoyable day seeing Black Brant, a late Curlew Sandpiper (a UK year tick for me!), Spotted Redshank, 7 Mediterranean Gulls, an unreadable colour-ringed Greater Black-backed Gull, Kingfisher and Raven from the north Wall.  We relocated to west Dean woods seeing a Red Kite, female Sparrowhawk feeding on a Red-legged Partridge, Little Owl, Marsh Tit and male Bullfinch.

Little Owl in its usual tree near Stapleash Farm

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Shoreham Area (04 November 2012)

4 November.  With very rough weather overnight I decided to have a look at Shoreham Harbour but the wind was too strong to venture far onto the western arm.  Nothing was evident in the harbour entrance or amongst the gulls on the beach but one Purple Sandpiper was on the inner arm and a Rock Pipit was struggling to stand upright on the beach.  Widewater offered some shelter peering between beach huts for seawatching and in the event this proved to be a good move although very little was moving. A Sanderling flew west, the cynic in me wondering what it might be identified as further down the coast, then after 45 minutes when I was thinking of giving up a dark petrel flew east very fast with the wind behind it.  It was just off the beach and unfortunately all too soon disappeared behind a rock groyne but not before I'd seen its long, pointed wings making it a Leach's.  If that wasn't enough, ten minutes later a Grey Phalarope flew west jinking about just in the surf.  I stayed another half an hour but the weather improved dramatically and all I saw were 4 Brent Geese and a first-winter Kittiwake.  A Knot was on the Adur and a selection of gulls, but no colour-rings.  Later walking with Megan a Swallow flew west over the Adur.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Beachy Head & Hume's Leaf Warbler (03 November 2012)

A busy week at work meant no chance to slip off over to Beachy for the Hume's Leaf Warbler that was found by John Marchant on Tuesday.  Two Peregrines on the Power Station chimney and a Grey Wagtail over the Old Steine that day were my only notable sightings going to work, return journeys now in the dark.  Then I thought there was no chance that the Hume's would stay, but each day it did made the wait to the weekend more anxious.  Leaving work on Friday under a clear sky with the temperature having dropped made be particularly concerned that it would be a Friday night splitter.

Very heavy overnight rain was slow to clear and driving over to Birling on Saturday morning gave my car its annual wash (above and below).  I arrived at Birling at 06.40 just as the rain started to ease off and y the time I had got my leggings and Wellingtons on and John King had arrived the rain had just about stopped.   John and David Cooper and Brenda Kay were not far behind but other than pigeons there was little moving overhead and virtually nothing on the deck.  we made our way up to Belle Tout lighthouse and down to the wood where I greatly relieved to hear the the Hume's was still present.  We spent two hours there with the small crowd keeping tabs on for most of the time, although it was moving about a lot.  It performing reasonably well but was still too quick for me to get anything other than barely identifiable photos, not helped by poor/variable light and focusing difficulties with leaves and glasses.  We then covered the rest of the Head up to the Hotel garden but by then the wind had picked up making it difficult to see anything even if there had been anything to see.

Birds recorded by me at Beachy were c10 Common Scoter (on the sea before the wind got up), 2 Sparrowhawks, Merlin, 2 Peregrines, 13 Stock Doves, 3900 Wood Pigeons (including at least 3000 heading out south), 23 Sky Larks, 8 Swallows, Hume's Leaf Warbler, 5 Goldcrests, 25 Goldfinches and a Siskin (heard).

Ferry, gull and rainbow from Birling
DC suggested the rainbow might be over Portland after the spell they've been having but a  ship assisted House Crow would seem more likely
spot the bird - Hume's Leaf Warbler in Belle Tout Wood, Beachy
one small step ...
quick check on the wing formulae
at times like these a better camera and lens would be nice, although I'd need someone to carry them for me
a nice bird to most likely finish the autumn with, although one always hopes ...