Saturday 29 November 2014

Medmerry, Pagham & Burgh (29 November 2014)

Saturday 29 November.  A very enjoyable day in West Sussex with John King and the first time I'd been west of Arundel for ages.  From the eastern viewpoint at Medmerry the Great Northern Diver showed well, when it was above the water, and one, possibly two, Black Redstarts were around the boulders.  More distant were at least 10 adult Mediterranean Gulls amongst the distant roosting Black-headeds and a very active colour-ringed juvenile Spoonbill. At Church Norton the two juvenile Spoonbills were obvious from the bottom of the lane roosting on Tern Island, one was differently colour-ringed.  The tide was well out and about as far as one could see up the main creek into the harbour two Avocets were feeding. The pale Curlew was on the mudflats, although it wasn't as obvious as on previous visits - maybe it stands out more on dull days?   Looking into the harbour the two Ruddy Shelduck were seen very distantly, we had hoped they might be on the Ferry as whatever their origin they deserved a decent view.  We then headed for the Burgh which proved to be quite popular.  Here we spent the rest of the day with Ewan Urquhart and friends down from Oxford (no Black Audi though), mainly looking east from the track above Peppering High Barn.  We saw 4 Short-eared Owls, initially very distantly but two came close giving nice scope views.  Even better were Red Kites with one or two on view almost the whole time we were there.  I saw four on getting out of the car at the Burpham Triangle and later in the day a loose group of six and then a single came over from the west leisurely heading to roost. Rarely have raptors reminded me so much of Poms.  Also there 24 Grey and 3 Red-legged Partridges, 2 Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk.

Great Northern Diver at Medmerry

it looked to be finding plenty to eat, but if it wasn't I doubt it would have stayed

an active Spoonbill at Medmerry
complete with colour rings 

Spoonbills at Pagham in their more usual pose
they did stretch occasionally
check out my rings 
going colour blind?

Ruddy Shelduck at Pagham (back, left of centre)
Pomarine Skua like Red Kite over the Burgh
Friday 28 November.  I heard at least one Redwing as I cycled past Hove Lagoon at about 7pm.

Monday 24 November.  A Peregrine was seen roosting quite low down on Southwick Power Station when I was on my way to work.

Sunday 23 November.  Megan and I got wet and cold walking to Goring Gap and back from Worthing.  With just 5 Brent Geese seen it was hardly worth it.  Not that it mattered as we had a very pleasant family afternoon celebrating my dad's 90th birthday.  Lewis Hamilton won too, brilliantly rocketing off the line.

Saturday 22 November.  I cycled around Southwick Canal calling in at the east arm seeing just 3 Little Grebes and 300 feral pigeons and getting rather wet.  It cleared in the afternoon and Megan and I walked around the houseboats and the Adur.  An adult Mediterranean Gull was on the latter with about 800 Black-headed Gulls and the usual Shelduck and Curlew.

Friday 21 November.  A Peregrine was seen on Southwick Power Station when I was on my way to work.

Wednesday 19 November.  2 Redwings and 7 Fieldfares flew east over the house as I was getting my bike out to go to work.

Monday 17 November.  I got wet cycling to work and thought it sensible to put a plastic bag over my saddle to keep it dry.  It was a bread bag which local Herring Gull A4AH noticed and I was told be a colleague that the gull was attacking it.  When I got there it had made a big hole in it.  I'm not sure if the gull was clever (recognising a bread bag, it leaves my usual orange cover alone) or dim in not realising there was no bread in it?  Our local crows are definitely clever as Megan told me that one had managed to get the lid off the plastic box the milkman leaves a box of six eggs in on a Monday, smashed into the egg box and broken into two eggs.  The plastic box had until then been effective in keeping the egg box safe (after several successful crow raids in the past).

Sunday 16 November 2014

Beachy & Jevington (16 November)

Sunday 16th.  I met John King at Birling at 07.30 and we spent over four hours wandering around there and Belle Tout dodging showers.  For the time of year there were more birds than we expected to be honest although still not a great deal to write home about.  I saw Grey Heron, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, 2 Peregrines, 4 Stock Doves, 3400+ Wood Pigeons (in big flocks heading east), 2 Tawny Owls, Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Swallow (also heading east), 19 Wrens (they seemed to be everywhere), 3 Black Redstart (all at Birling), 7 Stonechats, 3 Song Thrushes, Dartford Warbler, 2 Blackcaps, Chiffchaff, 8+ Goldcrests (2 at Birling and 6+ in Belle Tout), Siskin (the first I've seen this autumn), 470 Golfinches (small flocks flying east) and a Corn Bunting.  At Jevington the Rough-legged Buzzard was still performing but was rather too mobile for easy digiscoping.  The Stock Dove flock was still present too.
Wood Pigeons on the move - about 300 here
threatening skies over Birling
Dartford Warbler at Beachy, the same bird we'd seen the previous weekend
Tawny Owl in Belle Tout Wood, the most in the open I've seen one all autumn

not looking overly concernd by the attentions of 3 Magpies

Rough-legged Buzzard at Jevington, an excellent find for Chris Ball
it hovered a lot, which was the only time I could mange to digiscope it
it always hovered into the wind and directly facing us
hopefully it will remain all winter

Saturday 15th.  A morning around the Adur seeing little other than the usual (for this winter) Shelduck and Curlew, my first sighting of Herring Gull A2FA for two years and a Chiffchaff. A2FA had been ringed as an orphan in Hastings in August 2003.  An afternoon walk on Beeding Brooks with Megan was much more interesting produced Barn Owl, 2 Stonechats, 6 Fieldfare, 2 Redwings and a Cetti's Warbler.

Wednesday 12th.  Martyn Kenefick phoned late morning to ask if I fancied a long lunch hour as he was going to look for the juvenile Rough-legged Buzzard found by Chris Ball near Jevington.  It didn't take me long to decide that what I was doing could wait.  The bird performed very nicely although as I only had 8x20 bins with me the use of Roger Charlwood's telescope was greatly appreciated.  A flock of about 200 Stock Doves was also present.

Monday 10th.  Peregrine and Rock Pipit at Southwick on my way to work.

Sunday 9 November 2014

Beachy (09 November 2014)

Sunday 9th.   Martyn Kenefick and I met up with the usual crowd at Birling but after an hour with just a Redwing to show for it we were wondering if our visit would be worthwhile. Fortunately it was and not just for the company and scenery. Little wind helped and I saw Marsh Harrier, 3 Sparrowhawks, 2 Buzzards, Peregrine, 450 Wood Pigeons, 7 Stock Doves, Tawny Owl, Short-eared Owl, 34 Sky Larks, 11 Wrens, 30+ Robins, 5 Stonechats, 16 Song Thrushes, 5 Redwings, Fieldfare, 6 Ring Ouzels (in Cow Gap), 30 Blackbirds, Dartford Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, Yellow-browed Warbler (Belle Tout), 3 Goldcrests, Jay, 125 Goldfinches and Corn Bunting.  The tide wasn't great for an afternoon walk around the Adur with Megan but he Curlew was still present.
Dartford Warbler behind Belle Tout

mainly in gorse
white-capped Blackbird near Beachy Head Hotel

Saturday 8th.  A damp and very breezy cycle to Shoreham Fort, Widewater and Brooklands in the hope something might have been blown in by the strong winds.  No such luck for me with 4 Purple Sandpipers on the inner arm the best.  At about the time I was watching them a Grey Phalarope was seen flying west past Widewater and 2 Pomarine Skuas flew west along Southwick Canal.  Also seen were 18 Brent Geese (including 2 on Widewater and 3 at high-tide on Adur Saltings), 2 Pochard and 110 Coot at Brooklands, Sanderling on the beach, 9 Snipe on the saltings and a Rock Pipit and 20 Greenfinches at the fort.  An afternoon visit to Sheffield Park with Megan was virtually birdless but some of the maples were superb.  

Tuesday 4th.  Red-flanked Bluetail is one of the most wanted birds in the county so news of one at East Hill, Hastings was most welcome but a dash proved to be in vain as the bird was not seen after the original sighting.  Disappointing but good of the finder to put the news out immediately, unlike the selfishness of those who saw the county's first.

Sunday 2 November 2014

wet West Sussex (Shoreham & Arundel 2 November)

Sunday 2 November. A poor forecast and pre-dawn rain put paid to any temptation to travel far.  Ninety minutes at Widewater in a strong SW wind was the expected disappointment (36 Brent and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers west) but at least it was fairly sheltered sitting in the entrance to a beach hut.  Back home a break in the weather convinced Megan and I to go to Arundel WWT but our arrival coincided with another set of showers.  At least the hides offered some shelter although our timing wasn't always perfect.  I paid my respects to the Scaly-sided Mergansers, only seeing one but it was much more active than usual.  Two Bullfinches flying over were next best.  Another dry spell at about low tide had me heading back to the Adur.  More gulls were on the airfield (too far to do much with) than the sandbars but those there included a Normandie Greater Black-back I had not recorded before.  The dry spell didn't last either ...

amazing scales
one day, maybe ...
Greater Black-backed Gull 93R, most likely ringed at Le Havre
Pheasant at Arundel.  Too daft to survive outside but an easy life if they stay in with plenty of duck food and no foxes or shooters

Saturday 1 November 2014

Beachy Head (1 November Great Grey Shrike)

Saturday 1 November.  A very pleasant morning at Beachy with Martyn Kenefick, John King, John and David Cooper and Brenda Kay.  I've been going to Beachy long enough to have few expectations at this time of year, other than pleasant scenery and company, so it was a very pleasant surprise to learn that Bob Edgar had seen a Yellow-browed Warbler in Bell Tout Wood.  It showed well but briefly for us in a tit flock in the bushes to the west. Earlier we'd seen a Black Redstart at Birling (and I'd walked the wrong way past a Dartford Warbler) while a social visit to Roger and Liz added a brief Great Grey Shrike from the deck-chair (once I'd provided some amusement working out how to put it up).  I also saw 3 Peregrines, 200+ Stock Doves, 550+ Wood Pigeons, 2 Tawny Owls, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests, 3 Ravens , 120 Goldfinches and single Reed and Corn Buntings.
Great Grey Shrike at Beachy Head
not on view for long and mostly against the light

it had a liking for fence posts
Black Redstart at Birling, the light wasn't quite as bad as this makes it appear