Saturday, 2 January 2016

HAPPY NEW YEAR at Dungeness

January 1st 2016.  A new year and better weather (temporarily), good birding and encounters with friends. John King and I headed east arriving at Pett Level at 08:00.  The Glossy Ibis soon flew in and we also saw 7 White-fronted Geese, 2 distant Barn Owls, 6 Ruff and Barry and John from Kent - Barry and I still enthused by how good Brazil had been. We continued to Scotney where we saw Bean Goose (asleep), Great White Egret (distant) and 2 Marsh Harriers, all in Sussex.  At Dungeness we met Roger and Liz in the reserve car park and Bob and Roger on our travels.  We accompanied Martin around his local patch seeing the roosting Long-eared Owl, 3 Smew (one a drake), adult Yellow-legged Gull, 2-3 Marsh Harriers and 4 Tree Sparrows on the reserve, the stunning first-winter Caspian Gull by the fishing boats and a very distant Great Skua, adult Little Gull and two adult Eider on the seawatch.  With the wind having picked up considerable and the weather worsening we said goodbye to Martin and headed home.  A couple of stops at either end of Scotney finally produced a black-necked Grebe which had been found there earlier but we couldn't relocate the Bean Goose - it was probably still asleep.  A very enjoyable day, we even found the Hastings Link Road after a couple of false starts!.
Glossy Ibis at Pett Level

White-fronted Goose on Pett Levels, one of seven present
Jury's Gap trig-point
sleeping Bean Goose, front left, at Scotney.  We watched it for 20 minutes but it never woke up
note small size, orange legs (although a couple of Grey Lags had them too), white flank stripe and browner plumage, especially the head
Long-eared Owl at Dungeness
a very popular bird and the first I've seen for several years

gulls on the beach at Dungeness, how many of the Herrings are argentatus?
the left hand bird looks a good candidate
Caspian Gull by the fishing boats at Dungeness
I started off digiscoping it
but it was very approachable
I switched to my bridge camera and advanced, hoping it would stand up but wary of flushing it
it stretched showing a superb white underwing

stood up
Add caption
walked a few paces further away

had a good stretch
see how long my legs are!
and sat back down
a brilliant bird

December 31st.  Megan, Nessa and I took Ruth and Isabel, over from New Zealand, to Petworth House.  Two Mistle Thrushes were the only birds of note seen in the rather soggy grounds.

December 30th.  Three colour-ringed Great Black-backs on the Adur, two from Normandy and one from Norway, all new for me.  Also a new and a repeat North Thames Herring Gull. 

ringed Common Gull on the Adur, sadly no colour-ring to read
Norwegian Great Black-back Gull JX35
ringed as a chick at Lindesness, Vest-Agder, Norway in June 2007 it has been recorded 16 times since, all within 14 km of there, until today ...
North Thames Herring Gull UU7T, my third sighting since June of a bird ringed at Rainham as a first-winter in December 2011.  Also present was KT4T, my 10th sighting of it since 2011. 
Stonechat by the Adur

December 29th.  A Turnstone flew west towards us very low along the landward side of the A259 as we were approaching Kingston Lane after a few last minute purchases for a family get together that Megan was putting on.  My parents, their three children, the two of the three spouses and the five of their 8 grandchildren who were in the country.  Very enjoyable.

December 28th.  A decent day for a change.  I visited Pagham North Wall and lagoon seeing a colour-ringed Great Black-back from South Wales in the harbour before it was pushed off by the rising tide.  It flew just before I could digiscope it, typically the first of the flock to do so.  A Marsh Harrier was hunting over the reeds behind the North Wall, a Spotted Redshank was in Whyte's Creek and 4 or 5 Goldeneye on Pagham Lagoon.  Alan Kitson did not seem out of place in shorts given the exceptionally mild weather!  I continued to West Dean Woods seeing a Little Owl in the regular tree near Stapleash Farm and Paul and Bridget James on the walk up to Monkton Farm.  Once there I saw 3 Hawfinches (1 perched and 2 reasonable flight views) and 11 Brambling with 2 Red Kites on my return.

dreadful image of a Stapleash Farm Little Owl, I saw it, it saw me and dived into thick cover before I could scope it
December 27th.  Megan and I walked up to Southwick Hill.  It was very muddy and almost birdless, two singing Song Thrushes the only birds of note.
Megan at Southwick Hill trig-point, not a great viewpoint with the surrounding scrub having grown up
very distant view of Truleigh Hill trig-point, not easy to see from footpaths.

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