Sunday, 24 April 2016

Short-eared Owls and Nightingales (23-24 April)

Sunday 24th April.  Very little was moving at Shoreham Harbour from 06:10-07:40 which was perhaps not unexpected in a cold northerly wind. Up to 9 Gannets were offshore, a Brent Goose, 4 Greylag Geese, 4 Whimbrel and 7 Sandwich Terns flew east with 2 of the latter and 2 Common Scoter west. Very slim pickings but it was a worthwhile visit as a Short-eared Owl came in, struggling somewhat against the stiff headwind and dodging the attention of a couple of gulls. It finally disappeared behind Southwick Power Station at 06:55. As I was leaving two Wheatears, a male and female, were on the beach. Nothing was on the Adur and Chiffchaff was the only notebook entry from a walk around Cissbury Ring with Megan although views to Beachy, Ashdown, Woolbeeding, Butser Hill, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight were superb.

Wheatear at Shoreham Fort

Saturday 23rd April. A couple of years ago I volunteered for South Downs Farmland Bird Monitoring requiring a not very onerous two visits to 'my' square just west of the Burgh. The first is in April to mid May and it seemed a good idea to do it on a day when there wasn't likely to be much passing on the sea (all too frequently the case this spring). I spent a couple of hours at Greatham first where the expected warblers performed well, a Short-eared Owl a pleasant surprise and no Cuckoos a disappointment.  My square produced a Red Kite, Grey and Red-legged Partridges and a single Yellowhammer - about par for the course. Afterwards I called in at Pulborough for a couple of hours and had good views of one Nightingale skulking under bushes and superb views of another that spent most of its time in the open.

Short-eared Owl at Greatham

the only Yellowhammer seen in TQ0310
Mistle Thrush
this is how Nightingales normally perform for me
sometimes they show a lot worse
this more showy individual was enjoying a bit of sun while standing on one leg!
and at times feeding on the grass - had it not read the book on expected Nightingale behaviour?

the same bird back on one leg

a rare view of a Nightingale's toenails
Grasshopper Warbler

one of my favourites

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