Thursday, 31 December 2015


The following birding trips have been 'blogged'.  All the older ones use scanned slides or digitised prints of varying quality.  All are heavily reliant on unreliable memories as only for the 1982 Asian trip did I make anything other than very rudimentary diary entries.  The blogs are done mainly to find a 'home' for my boxes of old slides but may be of wider interest. Other trips will be added as and when time allows.

ARGENTINA:  August 1990
Shanghai (Spoon-billed Sandpiper), Wuishan & Fuzhou (Chinese Crested Tern)
Pingtai (Jankowski’s Bunting)

INDIA:  June/July 1982

INDONESIA:  August 1992  Sulawesi & Halmahera
                       August 1993 Irian Jaya
                       August 2013 West Papua (Irian Jaya)
                         August 2015 Lesser Sundas (Sumba, Timor and Flores)

ICELAND: May/June 1989

ISRAEL:  March/April 1979

KENYA:  December 1977/January 1978
                July/August 1983

MADAGASCAR:  August 1995

MALAYSIA:  January/February 1982 West Malaysia
                      July/August 1987 Sabah & West Malaysia
                     July/August 2012 Sarawak & Sabah
Kuching, Kinabatangan River, Danum Valley, Sepilok and Mount Kinabalu

MEXICO: February/March 2016

MOROCCO:  April 1977

NAMIBIA July-August 2008:

NEPAL:  November 1979-January 1980
                March/June 1982
Jomson Trek
Everest Trek
Langtang Trek

PHILIPPINES: Easter 1996
                           Easter 2008

SOUTH AFRICA:  August 1991

SPAIN:  Easter 2014 Extremadura

TAIWAN:  April/May 2011

THAILAND:   December 1978/January 1979
                      December 1980/January 1981            
                      February 1982
                         March/April 1988

TURKEY:  June 2012
Nemrut Dagi

UGANDA:  June 2010
Mbamba (Shoebill), Kibale (Green-breasted Pitta) & Bwindi (African Green Broadbill)

VENEZUELA: December 1982/February 1983
Henri Pittier, the Andes and the Llanos
Bolivar and the north coast

VIETNAM:  April 2009
Cat Tien & Da Lat plateau 

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Caspian Gull in the Cuckmere

Saturday 26th December.  Halfway decent weather and Frank Lambert being in Brighton was all the excuse I needed to venture further than the Adur.  We started at Newhaven here we counted 16 Purple Sandpipers sheltering on the east pier.  We continued to the Cuckmere, approaching from Seaford Head Barn we could see a flock of gulls opposite Harry's Bush we approached and started scanning and hadn't been trough them all when Matt Eade phoned to say he was watching a first-winter Caspian in the flock from the footpath to the north.  He gave us directions but I either misinterpreted them, overlooked it or was unsighted and could only find an adult Yellow-legged gull. A few minutes later a group of gulls flew and it did a bunk.  Matt joined us and later Gordon Beck and Tony Cook. Frank and I were about to leave as I had a family commitment when Gordon picked out a third-winter as it joined the flock.  Good to see old friends and not a bad morning's birding to boot.
Caspian Gull in the Cuckmere
a third-winter bird
quite distinctive head even when it was all that was visible

starting to emerge from behind the Greater black-backs

small dark eye,small pear-shaped head, long thin bill and annaconda swallowing a capybara neck all evident in this image

Thanks Gordon
Yellow-legged Gull in the Cuckmere
Purple Sandpiper at Newhaven, nice covert edgings on this one, a juvenile?
another with much duller covert fringes, a worn adult?
Frank noticed that this one only had one leg
Friday 25th.  Sparrowhawk over Broadwater on a Christmas afternoon walk

Thursday 24th.  Six Purple Sandpipiers at Shoreham Harbour at high tide.  Herring Gull J0LT approaching low tide.
very high tide/big sea at Shoreham Harbour

full moon from the Adur

Monday, 21 December 2015

dull December

Saturday 5th. On the Adur a Kingfisher while gulls included 2 adult Mediterraneans, 2 North Thames Herrings (J0LT and U9MT) and Great Black-back P38B.  There were also two Mediterraneans (adult and second-winter) on the mud at at Quay Court and a second-winter (possibly the same) off Shoreham Fort where a single Purple Sandpiper was seen.  The pair of Red-breasted Mergansers were still on Widewater as was the Mute Swan family with all 7 youngsters.
Great Black-back P38B, It was ringed as a chick on Portland Harbour breakwater in June.  Most from there apparently head West not East although that did little to reduce my initial disappointment at realising it wasn't P for Poland
J0LT had been seen on the Adur 10 days earlier
U9MT, a new North Thames bird for me
Mediterranean Gull in the Common Gull flock near Ricardo's

Mediterranean Gull in Black-headed flock opposite Quay court near Shoreham Harbour
Mediterranean Gull at Quay Court

rough seas at Shoreham Harbour

Sunday 6th. North Thames Herring Gull L9HT on the Adur where it is becoming quite regular.  Also two Little Grebes.

L9HT, my fourth sighting in as many weeks
Friday 11th. A Shag and Red-breasted Merganser on Southwick Canal, a Purple Sandpiper at Shoreham Harbour viewed distantly from the east arm and North Thames Lesser Black-backed Gull ZN5T on the Adur.

my first sighting of ZN5T
Saturday 12th. Six hours at Climping seeing a Stonechat, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests and 5 Long-tailed Tits but no Dusky Warblers.  On my way home 2 Mediterranean Gulls (adult and first-winter) were seen in a small roost at Goring Gap.
Pied Wagtail at Goring Gap

Sunday 13th.  Megan and I walked a circuit from Chantry Hill to Lee Farm and back.  Nice to be on the Downs in half decent weather.  We saw Red Kite, 2 buzzards, 30 red-legged Partridges, 30 Fieldfares, a Chiffchaff, 3 Ravens and 8 Yellowhammers.

Monday 14th. A Long-tailed Tit at the University as I chained up my bike.

Wednesday 16th.  On the Adur an adult Mediterranean Gull, Great Black-backs 6AA9 from Guernsey and P38B from Portland and North Thames Herring Gulls F3NT and H9NT.  Also 2 Little and a Great Crested Grebe.  The pair of Red-breasted Mergansers were still on Widewater as was the Mute Swan family.

another sighting of 6AA9, my sixth since first seeing it on 24 October
Great Crested Grebe on the Adur

I had previously seen F3NT on the Adur on mid November
my first sighting of H9NT
Mediterranean Gull on the Adur
Thursday 17th.  Megan and I walked from High Trees almost to Thundersbarrow and back via Truleigh Hill (hoping for a glimpse of the Truleigh Hill trig point).  We saw single Stonechat, Fieldfare and Corn Bunting and 2 Ravens.
Corn Bunting near Truleigh Hill
Stonechat near Truleigh Hill
Saturday 19th.  Megan and I walked from Lancing Ring car park to Cowhovel bottom, Coomb Head and back via Steepdown (perhaps my favourite single place on the Downs).  We saw Sparrowhawk, 5 Buzzards, an impressive flock of 500 Stock Doves, 3 Stonechats and a Corn Bunting.
Megan at Steepdown trig point
Sunday 20th.  For my sins I volunteered to do a Non-estuarine Waterbird Survey (NEWS). My section of coast is from Shoreham Harbour to Widewater and a lunchtime low tide seemed a convenient time to do it.  Not a sensible choice as the beach was quite busy with people enjoying the mild weather, not that there was much to disturb.  a handful of gulls offshore, a single Oystercatcher flying along the tideline and Feral Pigeons and Carrion Crows on the beach. I can't remember walking any of that section before and not seeing a Turnstone.  Later 3 colour-ringed gulls were seen on the Adur but I failed to read the most interesting, a white-on-red Common.  The other two were a new Danish Great Black-back and another sighting of North Thames Herring L9HT.  The Common Gull flock opposite Ricardo's numbered about 1300 and contained the expected adult Mediterranean.
Great Black-back JZ186 on the Adur
a Norwegian scheme but it turned out to have been ringed in Nordjylland, Denmark in July 2014.  It was seen at Boulogne-sur-Mer Harbour, Pas-de-Calais in February and March. 
Mediterranean Gull on the Adur
it was soon back in amongst the Common Gulls

Monday, 30 November 2015

Shoreham (19-30 November)

November fizzled out rather quickly with a succession of fronts bringing wet and windy westerlies that did not encourage me to go any distance.

Thursday 19th.  A morning visit to the Adur where an adult Mediterranean was the only gull of note and not a sniff of a colour-ring.  42 Ringed and 4 Grey Plover were some compensation.  A quick look on Southwick Canal produced the Great Northern Diver rather distantly and two Peregrines on the Power Station chimney. I considered trying Shoreham Fort as it was high tide but unfortunately decided against it, later finding out Alan Kitson had seen a late Wheatear there.

Great Northern Diver on Southwick Canal
Saturday 21st.  Two Brent Geese flying west over Southlands Hospital as I unlocked the car were a surprise.  It was to be the highlight of a disappointing morning with no sign of Alan Kitson's Wheatear at Shoreham Fort although a Purple Sandpiper was present despite the low tide.  No gulls of note on the Adur, just a female Wigeon.
Wigeon on the Adur
Sunday 22nd.  A halfway decent seawatch from Shoreham Fort with small groups of Brent Geese moving (19E:135W), 4 Red-breasted Mergansers and a distant Common Scoter.  A flock of 80 starlings came in, flying low over the sea from some distance.  Later, with the weather improving, Megan and I walked around Beeding Brooks but it was quiet with a Stonechat, 12 Fieldfare and 7 Redwings the most exciting observations.
Turnstone enjoying the early morning sunshine
this one appeared to have damaged or deformed feet although it did not seem to be noticeable disadvantaged
no such problems here 

Wednesday 25th.  Megan and I walked from Widewater to Brooklands and back hoping for a late Wheatear or a Black Redstart but seeing little.  Black-headed Gull R3 was the highlight.
Meadow Pipit at Widewater, not the passerine we were hoping to see on the beach
Dutch Black-headed Gull R3.  Widewater takes a 3-2 lead over the Adur for my sightings of this bird which I'm averaging seeing once a year (possibly not more often as the ring is very indiscreet).
Brent Goose on Widewater
Thursday 26th.  Megan and I walked around Steepdown.  Superb views despite low cloud hanging over Truleigh Hill for much of the time.  35 Sky Larks, 20 Corn Buntings and 2 Reed buntings were feeding in the stubble and a pair of Stonechats were along one of the fences. I went down to the Adur for low tide seeing a new North Thames Herring Gull.

looking northeast to Truleigh Hill 
laying pipes for Rampion cabling makes quite a scar although hopefully a temporary one 
Corn Bunting at Steepdown, the best place I know to see them

Herring Gull J0LT on the Adur, pity this ring wasn't saved for something rarer that really would give one a jolt.
Saturday 28th.  A quiet morning on the Adur and at Shoreham Fort, livened only by a Kingfisher.
Kingfisher north of the Old Toll Bridge, always nice to see especially when well enough to photograph

Sunday 29th.  Much better today with a Slavonian Grebe on the sea off Widewater where three Little Gulls flew east during an hour or so seawatch.  Little else was moving in the rough weather but three Red-breasted Mergansers were on the lagoon.  Over 1000 gulls were on the Adur including an adult Mediterranean and two repeat colour-rings.
one of three Red-breasted Merganser on Widewater

presumably male, female and immature male with the former chasing away the latter on several occasions 
Guernsey Great Black-backed Gull 6AA9 has been regular on the Adur since October
North Thames Herring Gull L9HT, my third sighting since mid November and the first at such an angle
gulls on the Adur
Monday 30th.  A couple of hours watching gulls on the Adur as the tide came in this morning produced two Mediterranean and five colour-ringed birds, three of the latter that i had not recorded before.  
Guernsey Great Black-back 6AA9, my fifth sighting of this bird in as many weeks
Normandie Great Black-back 40T, previously on the Adur on 7 November
North Thames Herring Gull V8MT, new for me
North Thames Herring Gull XA6T, another new one
Common Gull A72K is not one I've encountered before.  Only my third colour-ringed Common Gull, it appears to be from North Germany as was my second.
second calendar-year Mediterranean Gull on the Adur
Mediterranean Gulls on the Adur are most often associated with Common Gulls as is this adult