Sunday, 22 January 2017

frozen (18-22 January)

Sunday 22 January. A visit to Shoreham Fort, sunny and little wind but the car said it was -4C and it was easy to believe it. 12 Great Crested Grebe and 41 Razorbills were on the sea with another 10 unidentified auks further out. A nearer bird looked like a Guillemot but dived before I could be sure and I never saw it again. Only 5 Turnstones are around the harbour despite the tide being fairly high still and no passerines at all. The visit was salvaged by 2 Kingfishers on the inner jetty. A late afternoon visit to Beeding Brooks produced 2 Egyptian Geese, Water Rail, 20 Fieldfares, 2 Redwinngs, 4 Yellowhammers, 12 Corn Buntings and the hoped for, but rather distant Barn and Short-eared Owls.

Egyptian Geese flying into the sunset at Beeding Brooks
Barn Owl enjoying the setting sun on Beeding Brooks
Short-eared Owl on Beeding Brooks, one of three seen

Saturday 21 January. Megan and Nessa were visiting Petworth House to see the latest Turner exhibition. I'd seen an earlier one which was enough for me so i dropped them off and took Cookie for a walk in the park. Both Lower Pond and the main lake were frozen, the latter with a little open water around the edge of an island. Birds were few and far between with 2 Egyptian Geese flying over, a pair of Mandarins, 20 Redwings, 4 Mistle Thrushes and a Nuthatch.  Late afternoon I went to Burton Mill Pond. It was also frozen with just one section of the main channel ice free. It held at least 350 Mallard and about 20 each of Pochard and Tufted Duck. A Kingfisher flew across the pond, 30+ Pied Wagtails roosted in the reedbed but disappointingly no Bitterns had appeared by 17:15 when I was the last to leave, the light being too poor to see anything.
Mandarins on Petworth main lake

Friday 20 January. A morning keeping my mum company while my dad was taken too the eye Hospital. Late afternoon I took Cookie up onto the Downs above Shoreham where a Little Owl was sitting out in the sun. 
Little Owl in the sun

18 January 2017.  Cookie and I started at West Rise Marsh where the Long-tailed Duck was playing hard to see, spending twice as long under-water as above it. Walking around the pool and then the meadows and reedbeds to the south produced 2 Water Rails that we flushed into the reedbed, 6 Meadow and at least 2 Water Pipits (1-2 were seen quite well but not heard and two together heard but not seen well) and a Stonechat. We continued on to Seaford Head and, parking by Chyngton Farm, walked down into the Cuckmere to check the gull flock. There were at least 800 Great Black-backs roosting and not very good views of an adult that structurally looked good for Caspian but was perhaps a little pale mantled.  Our last stop was Newhaven Tidemills where we bumped into John King and didn't have to wait long to see the Serin. A walk to the east arm produced two Stonechats but no roosting Purple Sandpipers despite the high tide. 

a slim, long legged adult gull that I was disappointed not to see better
it was a small bird, so presumably a female, although its mantle appeared no darker than the nearby argenteus Herring Gull
it appeared small headed with a dark eye and rather upright. After a few minutes of hardly moving all the gulls flew, most landing again but I could not relocate it
Peregrine in the Cuckmere
one of a pair

Serin at Newhaven

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