Sunday, 7 June 2015

Downland walks in early June

June 7th.  I walked a favourite circuit from the Lancing Ring car park to Cowbottom, Coombe Head and Steepdown.  The grass in one of the fields near Valley Barn was being cut with Red Kites in attendance.  I counted four on one scan but there might have been more. There were also 4 Buzzards and 2 each of Kestrel, Hobby and Peregrine.  Other birds on the circuit included a Grey Partridge, male Stonechat with 3 juveniles, 2 Ravens, a Yellowhammer and 8 Corn Buntings.  My best visit ever!  Almost back at the car a warbler was singing from a patch of bushes.  It sounded like a quiet Reed but in atypical habitat in early June it was worth investigation - after 20 minutes it showed briefly and was a Reed.  
few British birds are as colourful
Wildlife on Shoreham Airport
Buzzard being mobbed

Corn Bunting
another Corn Bunting
and another
juvenile Stonechat
Hobby over Steepdown
Red Kite near Valley Barn
one of four seen in the air together from Steepdown
this one came much closer

before drifting off towards Shoreham
as close to home as I have yet seen one
Later Megan and I walked around Mill Hill and watched the crowds on Shoreham Airport's Wildlife 2015 building up.  Two Bullfinches were the highlight.

June 6th.  Megan and I walked around Cissbury.  Super views west to the Isle of Wight and the Spinnaker Tower, east to Belle Tout lighthouse and northwest to Blackdown made up for alack of birds with 3 Buzzards and 5 Yellowhammers best.

June 5th.  I switched my day off although wished I hadn't.  I thought I would go an see the Red-footed Falcon again but decided to wait for news on the pager.  None came by lunchtime although being Sussex that wasn't too unusual so I went anyway.  That turned out to be the wrong move as it hadn't been.  A distant Hobby there vied with a Sparrowhawk over our house while looking for Swifts that evening (3 were seen).

June 4th.  14 Swifts over the house in the evening, my highest total this year.  Unfortunately the phalarope had gone so I didn't get the chance to digiscope it.

June 3rd.  Megan and I did a circular walk from Whiteway's Lodge, through Houghton Forest to Bignor Hill, Barlavington and back, after missing a turning, through Sutton and Bignor.  Few birds were in evidence and I was surprised, and disappointed, not to see a Red Kite.  Highlights were groups of 5 and 6 House Martins collecting mud from puddles and a Marsh Tit.  I went to Woods Mill that evening and saw the Turtle Dove and was wandering around there when I received a text from Jake about the Red-necked Phalarope on Widewater, thanks Jake.  I headed straight there but was still beaten by Jake and the Coopers (I had been about as far from my car as it was possible to get).  It was a superb female, and about as bright as it is possible to imagine. In over 40 years birding I had not seen a spring migrant Red-necked Phalarope so seeing two in under a week was brilliant.

looking north from near Barlavington down
Turtle Dove at Woods Mill

female Red-necked Phalarope at Widewater.  Another was there in early September 1989 at the same time as our daughter was born.  Although I did manage to see it each day my mind was elsewhere.
thinking I was only going to Woods Mill and wouldn't need a scope I left it at home.  Getting a call from Jake I didn't have time to call in and collect it so I was limited to photographing beyond the limit of my bridge camera.  Jake and John and David Cooper's generosity in letting me look through their telescopes was much appreciated.  Thanks guys.
June 2nd.  Resident Herring Gull red A5HH on white near the University's Sports Centre.

May 31st.  Dreadful weather prevented us venturing far with a late morning walk behind the Power Station when it looked to be improving producing 2 Fulmars, 2 Sandwich Terns and a Rock Pipit.  Later we walked around the Adur hearing a Cetti's and seeing a Reed Warbler and 2 Swallows making it one of my better visits this spring!  A text from Jake saying he was watching the Barcombe Red-footed Falcon had me heading over and it was on view when I arrived.  an excellent finish to what had looked like a write-off Bank Holiday weekend.

superb female Red-footed Falcon at Barcombe
Hobby there too

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