Friday, 2 January 2015

Barnham, East Head and West Dean (2 January)

Once again I started at Barnham, having been disappointed with only seeing part of the Whooper Swans there yesterday.  All were on view in the swan flock but still very distant and sometimes disappearing in the crop when feeding in a dip.  I then couldn't decide on whether to visit East Head or Thorney Deeps.  The high tide would be good for both but although the wind had dropped it was still rather breezy so I opted for the former.  I hoped to get to Snowhill Marsh before the sun broke through but it beat me by a few minutes.  The three spoonbills were on view and one was even feeding but it was hard making out anything amongst the roosting waders when looking into the low sun.  I walked around the head but only saw 6 Red-breasted Mergansers, 24 Sanderling, 2 Sky Larks and a Stonechat.  Back at Snowhill the sun had gone around enough for me to pick out a Spotted Redshank, although it was mainly in silhouette.  
juvenile Spoonbill at Snowhill Marsh
the other two were asleep, hiding their bills under their wings 
this one hid its bill in the water
I called in at Fishbourne but the tide was still high (I hardly ever manage to coincide with an ideal tide there) but I did manage a Greenshank and 3 Goldeneye in the channel were nice. John King believes he has a jynx on the Stapleash Farm Little Owls whereas in recent years my success rate isn't bad.  we;d failed yesterday so I thought I'd put it to the test.  I found one and later had a more obvious bird pointed out to me.  Sorry John but it must be you!  What a difference a day makes (or sunshine and lighter winds). Yesterday we'd seen virtually nothing at West Dean Woods, today there were 4 Red Kites at Lodge Hill Farm (and two others floating around). I arrived at the corner to find two Hawfinches had been seen feeding in the trees surrounding the horse paddock and one was still on view at the back of the paddock (thanks Jake G).  I then walked up to Monkton Farm seeing 2 Marsh Tits and a Chiffchaff.  Scanning from there I saw 2 distant birds that looked like Hawfinches but dropped out of view before I could get much on them.  I then joined Alan Kitson & Mieu Helps who had seen two in a nearer tree and while talking to them 3 dropped into the top of a more distant tree where they gave decent telescope views.  I headed back down and as luck would have it another Hawfinch (or perhaps the other of the original two) was feeding in the trees 50m along from my car. Nice.  
Little Owl in its 'usual' tree near Stapleash Farm, it was only really obvious when its piercing yellow eyes looked at me (unfortunately not now)
a much more obvious Little Owl in the same tree that I had completely overlooked

Hawfinch at West Dean Woods
Hawfinch by my car

looking rather disapproving of me?

 I finished the day at Burpham (no Bewick's Swans visible) and the Burgh.  A triangular circuit from Peppering High Barn in the fading light produced 2 Short-eared Owls, 7 Red-legged and 17 Grey Partridges, the latter as vocal as I can remember them.  An enjoyable day especially after 

Grey Wagtail at the Burgh
Grey Partridges at the Burgh
not quite a full moon

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