Saturday, 6 May 2017

early May in Sussex

Sunday 7 May. A visit to Pulborough with Megan and Cookie was confined to the heathland, bluebell woods and the public footpath to the river. Two, possibly three mobile Cuckoos were calling but always remained unseen, a step ahead (or behind us). Highlights were a singing male Redstart and a juvenile Crossbill on the heathland 'hump'. A Nightingale sang briefly near Fattengates and four Egyptian Geese flew over as we walked back. Once home I finished packing ...

Saturday 6 May. Three Swifts were over the house when I left to take Cookie to the southern section of the Knepp Estate. I saw Cuckoo, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and Bullfinch and heard Turtle Dove (distant and briefly) and Nightingale (frustratingly close and prolonged). Later we went to the Cuckmere, parking at the barn. There I saw Nick Pope and Jon Curson and Cookie made acquaintance with their dogs. They told me where best to look for the Garganey and that there were a couple of Whinchats on the dung/straw heap. I saw one Whinchat and a Wheatear, the Garganey and then both Whinchats before leaving. This evening ten Swifts over our road, they are well and truly back.
Garganey in the lower Cuckmere, viewed from Harry's Bush

male Whinchat on the straw heap

female Whinchat

Friday 5 May. Megan and I took Cookie to Crowlink and walked to Belle Tout and back. Birds were disappointing - not helped by a strong cold NW wind. Early May is potentially the best time in Sussex but not today with 7 Swifts in, a Peregrine, 6 Stonechats, 5 Lesser Whitethroats and 2 Ravens. In the evening two Swifts were over the house as I got into my car to drive to Lavington for my first Woodcock survey of the year. Just two sightings was disappointing although a Tawny Owl on the way home made up for not seeing one of the Beachy pair.
Early Spider Orchid at Beachy

Thursday 4 May. A Peregrine on Southwick Power Station on my way to work. Two Swifts over the house in the evening, my first of the year.

Wednesday 3 May. Walking around Mill Hill with Cookie I saw a Lesser and three Common Whitethroat and a Blackcap.

Monday 1 May. We had planned to go to Crowlink but the wind looked too strong and we decided on Cissbury instead. That gave me a couple of hours beforehand and I seawatched from Shoreham Fort from 06:50-08:50. I did see 7 Arctic Skuas and 30 Sandwich, 11 Common and an Arctic Tern but with a very clear horizon I wasn't too surprised to later discover that while I was there ten Pomarine Skuas were seen at Selsey then Seaford. One or two I could imagine missing but not ten so I'm guessing/hoping they were a long way out. I did wonder if Widewater might have been better, sacrificing some distance to gain more shelter. Cissbury wasn't special with two smart male Stonechats and five Whitethroats.
male Stonechat at Cissbury

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