Sunday, 14 February 2016

Sussex between trips (24 January-16 February)

Sunday 24 January.  Engineering works meant that trains from London to Shoreham-by-Sea were via Littlehampton. Not ideal after a long flight but I did see the 8 Bewick's Swans on Amberley Wild Brooks about as well as one could from a moving train.

Thursday 28th. A decent forecast combined with a terrible one for the weekend tempted me out. I started at Selsey seeing 2 Great Northern Divers, Eider and 4 Red-breasted Mergansers on the sea but little was passing other than 2 Mediterranean Gulls. Nothing was on the sea off Church Norton although 21 Avocets at the top of the main channel were visible from the beach and a Kingfisher was perched above the flooded moat. Sidlesham Ferry was quiet as was Fishbourne despite a reasonable tide. I continued to West Dean Woods hitting a huge pothole hidden under an innocuous looking puddle on the turn off to Stapleash Farm. I stopped to find my tyre rapidly deflating then failed to see any Little Owls. I put the spare on (why do cars no longer have a proper spare?), saw a Hawfinch in tree tops on the corner and headed up to Monkton Farm. No more Hawfinches unfortunately but 30 Brambling, 3 Red Kites and a Treecreeper were nice, as was a Marsh Tit by the car when I returned. I headed home earlier than planned to drop my wheel off at the garage.
almost the highlight of my visit to West Dean Woods
Saturday 30th. The garage hadn't got my wheel back on Friday evening, just the invoice. I didn't want to use it unnecessarily with the smaller spare tyre fitted so Megan drove us to Steyning Round Hill. We walked to Chanctonbury Ring and back seeing Stonechat, 40 Corn Buntings and 10 Stock Doves.  Some nice views too.
Chanctonbury trig point with flooded Pulborough Brooks in the distance

Sunday 31 January. I cycled to the Adur and Widewater. On the Adur colour-ringed Mediterranean and Great Black-backed Gulls flew off before I was able to read their rings - rather frustrating as they looked to be German and Norwegian respectively. No sign of the Goosander either. Later Megan and I walked from Widewater to Brooklands and back.
Mediterranean Gull on the Adur, it flew before the green ring could be read. 3 of the 4 green ringed Med Gull's I've seen were from Germany, the 4th from Belgium
Grey Wagtail at Brooklands
Tuesday 2 February. A decent day for cycling and nice to get part way home in daylight. Even nicer to see 5000+ Starlings over the Palace Pier.

Wednesday 3rd. Megan and I walked our usual Lancing Ring-Cowbottom Hovel-Steepdown circuit seeing 28 Stock Doves, 32 Sky Larks, 8 Corn and a Reed Bunting. Later I saw little at Widewater and the Adur.

Thursday 4th.  I went to Goring Gap to look for the Glaucous Gull which had reappeared there. John and Doreen Cooper and John King had the same idea but unfortunately the gull did not appear in the 4 hours I was there. During that time I saw two Slavonian Grebes on the sea, 7 Mediterranean Gulls and 35 Sanderling. Later I cycled to New Salts Farm where the Short-eared Owl was flying around from 16:30-16:55.  Very nice.
first-winter Mediterranean Gull at Goring Gap
Greenshank on the Adur Saltings near the Dogs Trust
Saturday 6th. Despite no further news on the Glaucous Gull I decided to give it another try hoping the strong wind would keep it sat in the roost. I arrived to find few gulls present but they did include the Glaucous. It hardly moved in the 3 hours I was there, walking a short distance and flying 10m. John and Doreen cooper came over and saw it. The sea was too rough to look at and I only saw 3 Mediterranean Gulls but there were 75 Sanderlings. Driving home warning lights started coming on in the car telling me the engine was overheating, despite the temperature gauge being normal. I stopped, the engine looked fine but wouldn't restart. The AA got me going - an electrical fault affecting every system including the immobiliser.
Glaucous Gull at goring Gap in its usual pose
it did stand up
but not for long
it did fly, for all of 10m
standing was a bit tiring
so it went to sleep
Sunday 7th. Didn't risk taking my car anywhere so Megan drove us to Rackham. Eight very distant swans were probably the Bewick's but small birds were almost non-existent with just 2 Goldcrests, a Chiffchaff and 5 Long-tailed Tits.

Wednesday 10th. I took my car into the garage and Megan then drove us to Arundel WWT for my annual 'wish I'd seen you' look at Scaly-sided Merganser. Alonso, their male, had arthritis in one leg but was much more active than usual. No sign of the New Salts Farm Short-eared Owl 16:30-17:05. My car was still being investigated ...
Bullfinch at Arundel WWT
Scaly-sided Merganser
wackiest haircut on a bird?
I'll have to wait at least another year, probably more to see a wild one
Thursday 11th. The one-legged Purple Sandpiper first reported by Alan Kitson was hopping around on the West Arm of Shoreham Harbour on the falling tide. Not quite as tame as the turnstone that run around the fishermen and sometimes me. Also a rock Pipit but that was it. The Mute Swan family on Widewater seem to be breaking up with 6 youngsters off on their own (no sign of the seventh). No sign of the New Salts Farm Short-eared Owl 16:10-16:55, a friendly photographer there told me it had been seen up to 15:30, on both the previous days. Annoying as I could easily have called in earlier. All system errors on my car have been cleared but with no idea what had caused them they may well recur. It drove home without any warning lights coming on but it was only a mile.
the Rampion Windfarm construction begins
Turnstone and Purple Sandpiper, Shoreham Harbour west arm
it hopped around quite well on one leg, the other damaged or caught up by what looked like fishing twine
view east from Shoreham Harbour
sunshine inland too, quite a rarity this winter
Friday 12th. A Peregrine on the Power station chimney as I cycled past on the way to work.

Saturday 13th. A big high tide covered virtually all the Adur saltings pushing what waders there were into view - the Greenshank, 52 Redshank, 48 Dunlin but only one Snipe. I walked around to New Salts Farm where the Short-eared Owl was sitting up in view, at 14:35. A Sparrowhawk was showing well by the railway bridge and also a pair of Stonechats. The car's warning lights were behaving too.

high tide on the Adur Saltings
roosting Greenshank
Short-eared Owl

the Sheriff
looking rather dishevelled with several loose feathers

Sunday 14th. Morning low tides are generally not as productive as later ones for roosting gulls and calm days usually worse than windy ones. So a morning low tide with lighter winds was never likely to be very good and so it proved with just 10 Great Black-backs and 80 Herring Gulls although the latter did include another sighting of F3NT. With my car seeming to be behaving we drove to Highdown and walked down to Water Lane and back through Highdown Copse. Nice to be out in sunshine but two Buzzards and a Sky Lark were the only birds noted.
North Thames Herring Gull F3NT. Ringed as a 2CY at Pitsea Essex in March 2015, I had seen it on the Adur in November and December when I had initially thought it a younger bird. The pale eye and tip to the bill give the age away but never-the-less it looks very retarded
Megan at Highdown 
Tuesday 16th.  A late morning low tide on the Adur where the weather was brilliant, even if I was looking into the sun at times. An adult Mediterranean Gull, perhaps two, and 4 Grey Plovers were the highlights.

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