Friday, 17 February 2017

Mediterranean Gulls on the Adur

Friday 17 February. Another low tide dog-walking visit to the Adur and a sense of deja vu with single North Thames Herring Gull (this one J6HT, the 130th different colour-ringed bird I've seen between the A27 and the railway line) and an adult Mediterranean Gull (this one in almost full summer plumage). Additionally a Kingfisher flew up river, nice.
almost full-summer plumaged adult Mediterranean Gull on the Adur

open wide
 Thursday 16 February. I took Cookie for another walk at Shoreham Fort, again failing to see the Waxwings on the way. Dick Eyre-Walker was there and told me they'd not been seen since the previous morning. At the Fort the sea was much quieter but there was a juvenile Eider in the harbour entrance. On the sea were 8 Red-throated Divers, 25 Razorbills and 2 Guillemots with 100+ other auks seen. It was quite low tide so we called in at the Adur on the way home seeing a single North Thames Herring Gull and an adult Mediterranean Gull.
one of two Brent Geese by the Yacht Club (photo taken there on 28 January)
North Thames Herring Gull Z5MT, not one I'd recorded before

winter adult Mediterranean Gull on the Adur
Wednesday 15 February. A mid morning return to the Fort with Cookie. Still not sure where the Waxwings were feeding I took a rather circuitous route but to no avail. At the Fort there were lots of birds on or over the sea. I recorded 22 Red-throated Divers, 115 Brent Geese (flying E), 12 Kittiwakes, 950 Razorbills and 4 Guillemots with a further 100 auks flying west. A Purple Sandpiper was on the wooden jetty when I arrived and it or another was feeding on the inside of the West Arm. My first Rock Pipit there this year was seen too. I returned to what I thought was the waxwing area and started to walk around when I saw John King in a side street. This was the favoured location but the birds had not been seen since about 10:00. They had flown off a short time before John arrived and about the time I would have been passing. We stayed in the area seeing several familiar faces but they had not returned in an hour so Cookie and I left.
Razorbill off Shoreham Harbour
Purple Sandpiper on Shoreham Harbour

Stock Dove in the garden
Tuesday 14 February. In the afternoon Megan and I took Cookie to Shoreham Fort. With reports of a small flock of Waxwings on Shoreham Beach we kept a close eye on the few berry bushes we past but saw no birds or birders. Not knowing where they had been seen didn't help. The visit to the Fort was barely more successful with just 5 Turnstone seen.

Sunday 12 February. A walk around the houseboats with Megan and Cookie produced the wintering Greenshank and 25+ Teal in the main channel.
Greenshank by the houseboats

Saturday 11 February. Martyn Kenefick was over with Trinidad and staying with us for a couple of days. Despite me fighting off a cold and Martyn more used to temperatures at least 30C warmer we decided to visit the Cuckmere to look for the Twite. The prospect of some geese and the chace to check the gull flock were an added draw. As we walked down the sea wall we met Ads Bowley was coming away. The bird had been showing well. Approaching the area we saw John King waving at us and pointing. The bird had flown our way and appeared to be on view between us, just not from where we were. A slight change of position and I was watching the first Twite I'd seen since being on the Tibetain Plateau in June 2000. Very nice. After a while it flew off and MK, JK and Simon Linington who had been watching it with us walked around to view the gulls and geese. The gulls included a GReat Black-back ringed at Le Havre and three Norwegian birds too distant to read but nothing more interesting. We also saw the 4 Cackling Geese, 9 Barnacles, 5 hybrids and 21 White-fronts. By now we were all quite chilled and walked back to the car. Martyn saw a Whimbrel which I had a retrospective flight view of. In the afternoon Megan and I took Cookie for a walk by the river seeing 7 Reed Buntings. Martyn sensible stayed in.

Cackling Canada Geese in the Cuckmere with two of the five presumed Cackling x Barnacle hybrids. Interesting birds but unlikely to trouble list keepers. 
Twite in the Cuckmere
the first I'd seen in Britain for nearly 20 years
hard to remember that even in the 1980s Twite were relatively common winter visitors to Sussex. I saw them in the Cuckmere, on the Adur or at Pagham (e.g.40 on 10 November 1984 and 23 on 20 January 1987).  In the 1990s I saw 4 on Newmarket Hill on 2 November 1990, 6 at Pagham on 26 Novembver 1994 and 3 there on 10 November 1996 and that is it.
White-fronted Geese in the Cuckmere, we saw 21.

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