Sunday, 3 March 2013

West Sussex and just into Hampshire (02 March 2013)

2 March.  Headed west with John King again.  First stop the Black Rabbit near Arundel where a Barn Owl was seen and the two pale, pinkish-billed Grey Lags flew in at about 08:15.  A Bar-headed Goose was present but there was no sign of the Bean Geese.  We'd both seen them previously (me only in flight) but the plan was to continue west and try again later.  We drove on to Warblington, no passport required, and soon fund the Glossy Ibis in a field past the churchyard.  We watched it for an hour during which time it was constantly feeding probing for worms with great success.  There was a short period of excitement when a fox ran across the field causing it to fly, for all of 15m.  A Water Rails was heard and two were seen briefly in the stream adjoining the field.  
Glossy Ibis at Warblington

With the tide coming in for an hour or so we headed to Hayling Oyster Beds where we saw 19 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Goldeneye and 20+ Red-breasted Mergansers in the channel and 6 adult Mediterranean Gulls on the Oyster Beds.
Mediterranean Gull coming into summer plumage at Hayling Oyster Beds, superb!

We crossed back into Sussex at Emsworth and headed for Thorney Island for the day's main target, the Red-breasted Goose that had been seen by Barry Collins since his return from holiday in Spain.  We were very fortunate to encounter Barry at Longmere Point and he kindly got us onto the goose which we probably wouldn't have found ourselves - apparently weekends are not the best time to see it as with dog walkers and model aeroplane enthusiasts it is more prone to disturbance and the main flock of geese can tuck themselves away out of sight. 31 Red-breasted Mergansers off Pilsea Sands and good numbers of Bar-tailed Godwits and Grey Plover were nice 
Red-breasted Goose with Brents on Thorney Island - easy to overlook on a quick scan and more so as it has a habit of sitting down to feed (how civilised)

a superb bird, many thanks Barry
Thorney beats Weir Wood to the first Sussex Osprey for 2013
We stopped at the Black Rabbit on the way back finding the Bean Geese immediately, if somewhat distantly, getting better views of the pale Grey Lags and seeing a Peregrine.
Tundra Bean Goose with two normal Grey Lags
the more typical of the two tundra Bean Geese

two Tundra Bean Geese at Arundel, the rear bird has more orange on its bill recalling Taiga Bean but was a similarly sized and structure to the more obvious Tundra
Bean and Grey Lag Geese, not obvious from this image but from left to right Tundra Bean, 2 presumed Eastern Grey Lags, Tundra Bean and two Western Grey Lags
Two Bean Geese and two presumed Eastern Grey Lags, notice the paler plumage (most evident on the raised head) and pink bill of the left hand Grey Lag.  It also had whiter/thicker baring on the coverts although that is not obvious from this image
the paler head and body was very obvious as was the pinkish bill
looking very much paler with a thin white band at the upper base of the bill
apparent Eastern Grey Lag - the upper wing coverts of Eastern Grey Lag are paler grey than nominate  and contrast with blackish flight feathers more obviously (Ogilvie & Young's 1998 Photo Handbook of Wildfowl of the World) as these seem to do?  A good contender as fathen but being right outside Arundel WWT perhaps 

We finished at the Burgh were scanning from the triangle where we met Gary Bagnall produced 2 Red Kites, 7 Buzzards, 5 Grey Partridges, 3 Red-legged Partridges, a Corn Bunting and at least 6 Hares.  Another very enjoyable day.
Grey Partridge
usually easy to find at the Burgh buto ften a tricky bird to see elsewhere in the county

25 Feb-1 March:  Southwick - cycling past in daylight most days makes it feel as if winter should soon be over although the biting winds suggest otherwise.  1-2 Peregrines on the Power Station Chimney each day and with evening low tides lots of gulls on the beach.  Too cold to linger long and with only 8x20 bins I was happy to pick out 2 Mediterranean Gulls, a winter adult on 27th and a summer adult on 28th.  Otherwise up to 1200 Common, 700 Herring, 500 black-headed and a few Lesser Black-backs.  The Commons included a range of sizes and colour tones.

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