Sunday 28 April 2013

Bits & pieces, Sussex (22-28 April)

22-26 April 2103.  Southwick Beach.  Singing female plumaged Black Redstart three mornings and one evening while waiting for the lock-gates.  Also two Wheatears on  25th.  Peregrine only seen once.

24 April 2013.  Low tide visit to the Adur produced nothing of note.

25 April 2013.  Nightingale and Grasshopper Warbler seen at Greatham in a half-hour stop on the way to do a Woodcock survey.  Also Water Rail, Cuckoo and Cetti's Warbler heard. Later 75 minutes at a point near Graffham failed to produced the hoped for Woodcock with distant Cuckoo ad Tawny Owls heard.
Grasshopper Warbler at Greatham
digiscoped at great distance 
and with minimum disturbance
26-27 April 2013.  Evening low tide visits to the Adur produced nothing but the Barn Owl and Grasshopper Warbler north of the A27 performed well both days.  Lesser Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler were also seen.

Grasshopper Warbler by the Adur, digiscoped in poor light
Barn Owl by the Adur, digiscoped in poor light

27 April 2013. Seawatched 06:20-07:20 at Seaford with John King but little was moving.  This was no surprise given wind direction and clarity.  We saw just 2 distant divers, 2 Teal,  45 Common Scoter, 1 Arctic Skua and 7 Sandwich Terns.  We went on to Beachy seeing the Tawny Owls, 3 Yellow Wagtails and Lesser Whitethroat.  No slow-worms on the allotment.
Tawny Owl at Beachy.  Digiscoped with a £60 16 megapix Nikon Coolpix L27.  Very impressive results if nothing fancy is required, and uses AA batteries.
Tawny Owls at Beachy.  Digiscoped with my normal Olympus 1040.  Only 10 megapix but more versatile even if it does quickly wear out rechargable batteries 

28 April 2013.  John King and I tried Seaford again almost by default as prospects were again poor.  I got diverted in Peacehaven and arrived a few minutes later than planned although this only meant that I missed the 'bird' of the day, 4 drake Eider, by 8 minutes rather than 5.  Things didn't improve much with a watch from 06:25-10:25 producing 5 Red-throated Divers, 29 Gannets, Brent Goose (west), 98 Common Scoter, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Artcic Skuas (pale & dark), distant Great Skua, 14 Sandwich Tern, 29 Commic Tern (one considered to be Arctic) and a singing Rock Pipit.  Later walking around Mill Hill with Megan was very quiet.

Sunday 21 April 2013

Shoreham and Old Lodge (21 April 2013)

Seawatching from the end of Shoreham Harbour from 06:00-7:30 made yesterday's efforts from Seaford seem brilliant with just 2 Whimbrel and 10 Sandwich Terns while one Purple Sandpipier was still on the inner jetty with about 40 Turnstone.  Later a walk around Old Lodge with Megan produced 2 Cuckoos, Wood Lark, 3 Redstarts, 2 Raven and 2 Redpolls while World War III seemed to be breaking out nearby.  Later two slow-worms on the allotment.

Saturday 20 April 2013

Seaford seawatch (20 April 2013)

20 April.  Seawatched from Splash Point, Seaford from 06:05 to 17:05, mostly in the entertaining company of Ewan, Matt, Bob S & Neil.  Disappointingly little passage and I only stuck it as the wind seemed to be changing for the better and there didn't seem anything more productive to do.  We were finally rewarded with a fairly distant Pomarine Skua (thanks Neil).  My totals were Red-throated Diver 14, distant diver 3, Gannet 29, Shelduck 6, Tufted Duck 1 pair, Common Scoter 108, Red-breasted Merganser 8, Buzzard 2 over the town, Whimbrel 33, Bar-tailed Godwit 21, Great Skua 2, Pomarine Skua 1 dark morph (at 16:00), Arctic Skua 4 (3 dark & 1 pale morph), Sandwich Tern 61, Commic Tern 33 (3 considered to be Arctic), Guillemot 1, auk sp. 2 and Swallow 2 in.

19 April.  12 Turnstones on Portslade Beach.

18 April.   Corncrake at Shooter's Bottom, finally seen at 19:45 when DC picked it up along the edge of one of the rides which it ten walked along the edge of for 5+ minutes.

17 April.   Male Wheatear on Portslade Beach, female plumaged Black Redstart singing from the top of one of the conveyor towers in the Hanson compound on Southwick Beach and Peregrine on the Power Station chimney.

16 April.  Ring-necked Parakeet over the bottom of Coldean Lane, Herring Gull A4AH at the University, 17 Turnstones on Southwick Beach and Peregrine on the Power Station chimney.

15 April.  Two Ringed Plover on Southwick Beach.

Sunday 14 April 2013

Shoreham and Pulborough (14 April 2013)

A seawatch from Shoreham Harbour was very quiet with those birds that were seen moving doing so at some distance.  In an hour I recorded 8 Gannets, 31 Scoter and 78 Sandwich Terns.  Six Swallows (my first hirundines of the year), a male Blackcap and 6 Willow Warblers were at New Salts Farm but nothing on the Adur on a rising tide.

An hour at Rackham was quiet with a pair of Mandarin , Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch best.  Pulborough was quiet too although 40 Swallows, 4 Sand and 3 house Martins were feeding and resting on fences on the North Brooks.  Best though were two very vocal Nightingales which showed well on occasion.

Cissbury Ring was almost birdless on an afternoon walk with Megan, with Sparrowhawk,a pair of Grey Partridges and a MistleThtrush the only notebook entries.

Nightingale at Pulborough

Saturday 13 April 2013

Seaford and Beachy (13 April 2013)

13 April.  Seawatched from Splash Point, Seaford with John King and others from 06:05-09:10 by which time things had died right off.  Species recorded flying east were 28 Red-throated Divers, 4 distant diver sp., 2 adult Shags, 30 Gannets, 275 Brent Geese, 2 Pintail, 4 Shoveler, male Tufted Duck, 100 Common Scoter, 9 Red-breasted Mergansers, dark-morph Arctic Skua, 5 Great Skuas, 43 Mediterranean Gulls (21 pairs and a first-summer), 64 Little Gulls (most adults), 95 Black-headed Gulls, 67 Sandwich Terns and 5 Common/Arctic Terns (they looked like Arctic but it seems very early as i've not seen a Common yet and it might have been an effect of the strange light).  During this time one or two Swallows were noted coming in but I didn't see them.

John and I then went over to Beachy Head where 2 roosting Tawny Owls were the highlight.  We also saw female Black Redstart, 4 Stonechats, male Wheatear, male Blackcap, 2 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Goldcrest.  We couldn't find a male redstart or any firecrests that had been seen earlier.
Tawny Owl roosting at Beachy
Willow Warbler on flowering gorse

12 April.  Sparrowhawk low across Middle Road in Shoreham.   Peregrine and Rock Pipit at Southwick and local Herring Gulls A4AM, A4AW, A5HH & A5MD by the University of Sussex Sports Centre.

09-11 April.  Peregrine at Southwick.

08 April.  2 Ringed Plover, 108 Sandwich Terns, a Rock Pipit and a Wren on Southwick Beach, 2 Ringed Plover on Portslade Beach.  By all accounts two Spoonbills flew east 10-15 minutes after I'd cycled west along the coast although I would probably have missed them anyway.

Sunday 7 April 2013

Shoreham & Seaford (06-07 April 2013)

2 April 2013.  Four Yellowhammers on Richmond Hill
3 April 2013.  Two Redwings on Richmond Hill.
4 April 2013.  One Nuthatch and two Jays on Richmond Hill.

5 April 2013.  I cycled to work for first time in two weeks and was rewarded with a superb male Black Redstart on the beach just east of the Power Station.  On the way home I finally caught up with the female type Black Redstart on Portslade Beach while an adult Yellow-legged Gull there was my first this year.  Further on the male Black Redstart was again on the beach before flying over/behind the sewage works.

6 April 2013.  Seawatched from the end of Shoreham Harbour from 06:55-10:55.  Very clear with a cold northerly wind.  Little variety but very good numbers of Brent Geese (1150) and Mediterranean (32) and Black-headed Gulls (1260) moving east with a constant stream of the latter seen by Dick Eyre-Walker in the half hour before I arrived. Also seen flying east were seven distant divers (with two Red-throated on the sea), 5 Whimbrel and 138 Sandwich Terns with at one stage 49 of the latter roosting on the Lifeboat Pier.  Eleven Purple Sandpipers were seen on the inner jetty as the tide came in with it quite likely that the other two were out of sight.  

A later walk with Megan behind Southwick Power Station failed to find yesterday's Black Redstart but two high flying adult Mediterranean Gulls were nice.  A low tide visit to the Adur was very quiet.  The 34 Mediterranean Gulls seen were all adults and all in twos, or multiples thereof.  Most were heard calling with many only detected that way.  Are migrating Mediterranean Gulls already paired?   This might explain why they are so vocal?
interestingly moulted Herring Gull with the top half looking much older than the bottom 
Border Force 'Searcher' leaving Shoreham Harbour
7 April 2013.  A change in the weather and a light south-easterly forecast made me hopeful of a good seawatch.  I met John King at Splash Point, Seaford and we watched from the groyne.  We were later joined by Bob Self and Ron Knight who had been in one of the shelters.  Easterly passage was steady without ever being manic and continued pretty well until early afternoon.  Between 06:30-14:45, by which time it had dropped right off, I recorded 319 divers (43 ID'd as Red-throated and 5 as Black-throated), 2159 Brent Geese (including 2 Pale-bellied), 1 Gadwall, 2 Shoveler, 7 Eider (5 males), 805 Common Scoter, 3 Velvet Scoter (1 male), 27 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Avocets, 57 Curlew, 41 Mediterranean Gulls (2 second-summers and the rest adults, most but not all paired), 15 Little Gulls and 154 Sandwich Terns.  Also 3 Greylag and 5 Canada Geese flew inland up the Ouse and a Whimbrel was heard.  No commic terns or skuas were seen which was a little surprising.  A very enjoyable seawatch with steady stream of birds, some of the less regular ones and good company.  It fully vindicated my desertion of Shoreham Harbour where I'm sure many of the birds would have been unidentifiable dots on the horizon.

A low tide visit to the Adur on the way home produced just 6 Teal, 2 Grey Plover and nothing of note amongst the roosting/washing gulls.
Brent Geese off Splash Point, Seaford
classic examples of not keeping a straight horizon

some were very close
unpaired Mediterranean Gull over one of Seaford's pink buoys

Wednesday 3 April 2013

TM9T wanderings

The recorded wanderings of North Thames Herring Gull TM9T, September 2010 to March 2013

Considered by the North Thames Gull Group to be a typical "North Sea Triangle" bird, its history to date is:

05/09/10  ringed Pitsea Landfill (Essex) as first-winter (1CY)
17/11/10 seen Dungeness, Kent
21/01/11 seen Crayford Creek, North Kent 
18/11/12 seen Boulogne-sur-Mer Harbour, Pas-de-Calais 
17/12/12 seen Holland Haven, Essex 
10/03/13 seen River Adur, Shoreham Airport

Annoyingly TM9T is one of the few colour-ringed gulls on the Adur that I've not got a photo of.