Sunday 24 November 2013

Newhaven, Birling and Shoreham (23-24 November 2013)

Sunday 24 November.  The Sponbill was showing very well at Newhaven Tidemills (close and active even if its bill was underwater for much of the time).  I then decided to go to Beachy and spent 3 hours at Birling and Belle Tout.  It reminded me,if I needed reminding, of why I don't usually bother this late in November.  I saw 15 Common Scoter on the sea, 10 Robins, 4 Stonechats, 4 Song Thrushes, 3 Ravens, 8 Chaffinches and a Redpoll.  Not a single Chiffchaff or crest was disappointing.
Spoonbill at Newhaven.  Nice to see one that isn't sleeping most of the time

Ponies grazing between Birling Gap and Belle Tout

Saturday 23 November.  A morning low tide visit to the Adur produced 200 ordinary looking gulls (mainly Herring) but no colour-rings.  At least 24 Little Grebe were on Widewater along with 2 Coot and the Mute Swan family (adults and 5 youngsters) but I couldn't find the Goosander or Kingfisher.  A Red-throated Diver, 3 great crested Grebes and an Eider were on the sea while 3 divers flew west and 20 gannets were milling around in the horizon.  At Shoreham Fort what looked like a different Eider (adult female V immature male) was offshore with 5 Meadow Pipits and 15 Greenfinches on the beach.  Some bike maintenance and a visit to the allotment in afternoon seemed a better use of my time than chasing a Two-barred Crossbills apparently reported on Ashdown forest by an untrustworthy observer.  Those that did found no bird and no observer, how surprising.

Friday 22 November.  It was just light enough to see a Peregrine on the power station chimney on the way to work.

Wednesday 20 November.  Peregrine on the power station chimney on the way to work.

Tuesday 19 November.  The Goosander was still performing on Widewater where I counted 18 Little Grebes on a cylce past on my way to an afternoon appointment at Worthing Hospital's Audiology department.  also 14 sanderling on the beach at brooklands but a few glances out to sea produced no duck.

Monday 18 November 2013

Shoreham and Greatham (16-17 November 2013)

Sunday 17 November.  With a only a couple of hours free I made repeat visits to Shoreham Fort and Widewater but this time by bike allowing me to cycle across the new bridge.  Very nice.  At Shoreham Fort the 5 Purple Sandpipiers were again bellow the wooden jetty and 60 Greenfinches were flying around.  Widewater was very still and I counted 27 Little Grebes. Also the Mute Swan family, the Goosander, both Coot and a Kingfisher were present with 50+ Sanderling and about 75 Turnstones on the beach.  Unfortunately nothing was seen on the sea at either site.  Megan and I then went to Sheffield Park where some of the leaves were fantastic but 8 Redwings were the only birds of note that I saw. Then a quick visit to the allotment and visiting my dad with my mum.
autumn colours are rarely this bright

new bridge at Shoreham

canoeists and dredger almost on collision course, Shoreham Harbour
Saturday 16 November.  Having seen the Orphean Warbler on St Mary's in 1981 I didn't feel I wanted to travel to Pembrokeshire to look for another, even if this one might formally be (sub-) specifically identified.  Looking for the Greatham Great Grey Shrike was a more appealing prospect than a long trip down the M4 although I decided to look around Shoreham on the rising tide first.  At Shoreham Fort 5 Purple Sandpipiers were feeding below the wooden jetty and two Rock Pipits chased around the West Arm.   There were two Coot at Widewater where the Goosander was performing for several admirers, Dutch Black-headed Gull R3 was a bit more discrete and I counted 51 Sanderling on the beach.  The tide wasn't as high as I'd expected at the Adur saltings with just 2 Snipe seen.  At Greatham a flock of 35 Fieldfare flew west and some ones and twos east while I was waiting for the Great Grey Shrike. It dully appeared against the light some distance to the south but eventually came closer.  In the afternoon Megan and I cycled into Shoreham where the new footbridge had finally opened.  It was designed to allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross but was so busy - everyone seemed to be out to try it - we had to push our bikes across anyway.  We cycled to Lancing, but the seafront was busy too, and saw the Goosander on the way back.
Goosander on Widewater

Black-headed Gull R3 failing to completely hide her ring.  She was ringed as a first calendar year on 20/11/09 at Stad Groningen, Noorderplantsoen Kerklaan, Netherlands, seen at Southwater CP by Jake Everett on 14/12/09 and by me on the Adur on 18/12/11 and 03/01/13 and at Widewater on 15/09/12 by me and 17/03/13 by Nick Bond.  
Sanderling on the Beaxch at Widewater
right hand bird making a better job of hiding its ring - so much so I didn't notice it at the time, or if it had others
extensive works at Coldwaltham Sewage Works, I don't think I'll be looking for Water Pipits here if it freezes up this winter
Great Grey Shrike at Greatham 
good views eventually although inevitably it didn't stay long when at its closest

morphing into a Great Grey Owl?

Thursday 14 November.  Two Peregrines seen on the Power Station chimney on my way to work.

Tuesday 12 November.  The House Sparrow was again in my study first thing, perhaps if it had got a bit sootier in the chimney I could claim it as a Spanish!  Herring Gull A5HH outside Sussex University Sports Centre.  

Monday 11 November.  Getting ready to go to work I realised there was a House Sparrow in my 'study' that appeared to have fallen down the chimney at some time in the night.  It was just getting light outside so opening a window and half drawing a curtain soon encouraged it to leave.  One Peregrine seen on the Power Station chimney on my way to work.

Sunday 10 November 2013

Beachy and Shoreham (8-10 November)

Sunday 10th.  A bright but breezy morning at Beachy with John King and John & Doreen Cooper covering most of the area from Birling to the rim of Whitbread Hollow.  Best sightings were a Black Redstart at Birling and 3 Swallows and a House Martin feeding over France's Bottom.  More impressive though were 250 Stock Doves (including a flock of 70) and an estimated 5200 Wood Pigeons mostly heading west with some purpose.  Also Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Peregrine, 2 Goldcrests, 80 Goldfinches and a Reed Bunting.  I then walked down the valley at Crowlink which was fairly sheltered but virtually birdless.
Stock Doves over Cow Gap
Buzzard over Belle Tout
Saturday 9th.  Out for a couple of hours before the rain came in.  At Shoreham Fort the Wheatear was showing well while a more mobile Black Redstart never stayed still long enough for me to digiscope.  A flock of c150 Greenfinches flying around the beach was the first big flock I've seen here for years - at times being disturbed by a Sparrowhawk.  Also two Peregines on Southwick Power Station chimney but very few gulls around no Rock Pipits or anything moving on the sea and the tide was too low for Purple Sandpipers.  A (the returning?) Coot was on Widewater with the Mute Swan family but the Goosander was not evident although with the rain starting my search wasn't that diligent.  A colour-ringed Greater Black-backed Gull I read as H89 was I realised on checking 68H, a Le Havre bird I'd seen in November 2011.
Wheatear hanging on at Shoreham Fort

Greater Black-backed Gull 68H (not H89).  Not its first visit to the Adur. 

Friday 8th.  An early visit to Widewater produced the juvenile female Goosander, 22 Little Grebes and 5 Teal.  Two Mediterranean Gulls were on the Adur, an adult and a second winter. Herring Gull A5HH and a Grey Wagtail outside Sussex University Sports Centre.

ducks on Widewater - ought to be able to string a few species here, Bufflhead anyone?
Goosander on Widewater
with fish shaped bit of weed
she might be tame but no rings on this leg

fully-winged too
second-winter Mediterranean Gull on the Adur
Tuesday-5-Thursday 7th.  1-2 Peregrines on Southwick Power Station chimney each morning, Grey Wagtail over Southwick Green on 6th, Herring Gull A5HH outside Sussex University Sports Centre on 5th.

Sunday 3 November 2013

Shoreham 03 November 2013 - excitement over ...

With a strong westerly wind and a rising tide I visited Shoreham Fort where hundreds of gulls were feeding on the tideline, some on washed up fish.  At least 5 colour-ringed birds were seen but reading them was a challenge and I was only successful with three.  One was a Greater Black-backed Gull from Nomandie that I'd seen several times in 2010/11, but not for almost two years.  I also read two North Thames Herring Gulls, both new for me, but a third got away as did a yellow-ringed bird possibly from the Wash and maybe even that I saw on the Adur last Sunday. 

Five Purple Sandpipers were feeding on the inner west arm with c20 Turnstones and a late Wheatear and two Rock Pipits were on the west arm proper.  Very little was evident on a windswept Widewater, just the Mute Swan family (still 5 youngsters)  and 4 Little Grebes. 

On a morning walk around the Burgh with Megan we saw a Red Kite, 3 Buzzards, 5 Grey Partridges, 7 Long-tailed Tits and 20+ Linnets but no buntings at all.  Nothing was seen on a dusk visit to the Adur just before low tide. 

Wheatear on the west arm of Shoreham Harbour

Rock Pipit

gulls on the beach 
too much movement for easy colour-ring reading
Although Greater Black-backed Gull A26 did land on the inner east arm.  It was ringed on Chausey Island, Normandie in June 2007 and I had seen it on the Adur 5 times between April 2010 and  December 2011

Saturday 2 November 2013

Birling Pallas's (02 November 2013)

Work commitments prevented me from taking Friday off and joining the Coopers on their successful trip to Unst.  Maybe next time.  Next best thing, well not usually, was a trip to Beachy and I met John King in the car park at Birling Gap at 7 am.  After a brief look at the sea we started to walk up the lane and I spotted an active small bird with whitish underparts in an open bush by the left hand tamarisks about 35m away.  It had two very prominent pale wingbars and a stripy head - a Pallas's Leaf Warbler - and I told John.  Unfortunately he saw a movement in a nearer bush which was a Chiffchaff and before he could get onto the right bird it flew up across the lane about 100m and dropped behind the second bungalow.  We followed it and after a few minutes heard it call as it flew past us and into a bush near the top of the lane about 30m away. This time we both saw it as it moved up in the bush before flying on another 100m and appearing to drop into the back of the plantation.  Disappointingly we never saw it again despite an hour of searching the area that produced a Firecrest, Goldcrest and several Chiffchaffs - all of which quickly moved through.  We looked and failed again later with Simon Linington, who had earlier seen 3 Black Redstarts and 2 Blackcaps in the gardens.  Elsewhere at Beachy we saw 14 Stock Doves, 25 Swallows, 2 Redwings, a few more Chiffs and another Goldcrest, a Raven, 205 Goldfinches and a Redpoll and heard a Ring Ouzel in France's Bottom.  I later visited Crowlink seeing just 4 Goldfinches.