Saturday 24 June 2017

Mid June in West Sussex

Saturday 24 June. A morning at Pulborough RSPB, on my own so visiting the hides on the dog-free part of the reserve made a welcome change, where I saw 7 Little Ringed Plovers (5 adults and 2 juveniles), 5 Black-tailed Godwits (2 in summer-plumage), 2 summer-plumaged Dunlin, 2 pairs of Lapwings each with 4 half-sized chicks, 15 Sand Martins and 8 Mistle Thrushes. After dinner I took Cookie down to the Adur where a single Sandwich Tern was the highlight and 3 Swifts were over the garden at dusk.
phone-scoped Black-tailed Godwit at Pulborough, more practice required
digiscoped Black-tailed Godwit at Pulborough
Egyptian Goose family at Pulborough
Little Ringed Plovers at Pulborough
Friday 23 June. Megan and I took Cookie to Rackham where a Marsh Tit, my first for nearly 18 months, was the only bird of note.
Beautiful Demoiselle at Rackham
Wednesday 21 June. Megan and I took Cookie up to Mill Hill. It was very quiet with just 2 Whitethroats and 5 Song Thrushes.

Monday/Tuesday 19/20 June. Too hot for me! A Peregrine on Southwick Power Station both mornings as I cycled to work and up to 8 Swifts over our road in the evening. My cycle home on Tuesday was interupted every 5-6 minutes by having to stop and pump up the front tyre which had a slow puncture. Doing so was preferable to changing the inner tube in the scorching sun. 

Sunday 18 June. I took Cookie to the Knepp Estate where I saw 2 Turtle Doves and 2 Garden Warblers and heard a distant Cuckoo. Best of all though was a Purple Emperor flying around and briefly landing on a barn. The first I've seen for probably over 30 years.

Cookie trying to make frioends with some large Tamworth Piglets
Turtle Dove at Knepp

adult Wren at Knepp

 Saturday 17 June. John King and I returned to Church Norton for more views of the Elegant Tern. We were fortunate that someone was leaving as we arrived at about 07:00 so we were able to park. I'd not taken into account the early morning sun and the light looking east at Tern Island from the spit made viewing difficult. The bird hadn't been seen for at least an hour but was thought to be out of sight on the island. We saw the first-summer Little Gull a few times, 20+ Mediterranean Gulls and 15 Little Terns but it was another hour before John had a brief view of the Elegant Tern flying and dropping out of sight amongst the Sandwich Terns. I didn't get onto it nor similar glimpses several of the others there had, although some may have been one of the Common Terns present!  After almost two hours the Elegant Tern flew around for several minutes before landing on the mud where it proceeded to display to a Sandwich Tern although the light still wasn't great. With news that the Red-footed Falcon was still at Frensham Common we left Pagham. Frensham was less than 25 miles from Chichester and going seemed a good idea at the time. We missed the bird by a good hour, spent almost four hours there withouit seeing it and left. A Dartford Warbler was all we had to show for our visit. It being reported on the pager for a couple of hours after we left just added salt to the wound. That'll teach me to leave the county when I don't have to. 
Elegant Tern at Church Norton, poorly phone-scoped against the light. I need to get Matt to show me how to do it properly!

dislaying to a Sandwich Tern
the Sandwich Tern didn't appreciate its advances
Friday 16 June. A pair of Mute Swans with 4 cygnets was all we saw with Cookie at Widewater.

Thursday 14 June. A Peregrine was on Southwick Power Station as I cycled to work whilea single Swift wasover our house in the evening.

Wednesday 14 June. A Rock Pipit and two Sandwich Terns at Shoreham Fort and a pair of Mute Swans with 4 cygnets at Widewater was all I saw during a morning around Shoreham with Cookie. Later we walked up to Chanctonbury with Megan seeing a Green Woodpecker. After dinner I called in at Greatham and saw a pair of Tufted Duck and a Lesser Whitethroat on my way over to Lavington. My final Woodcock survey produced 9 encounters probably inmvolving 3 individuals. I also saw a Cuckoo and 2 Nightjars.

beach huts at Widewater at low tide
view east from Chanctonbury

 Monday/Tuesday 12/13 June. Just a few Swifts over the house in the evening.

Sunday 11 June. Very quiet around Shoreham with a single Oystercatcher and a handful of gulls all I could find on the Adur, 2 Stock Doves in the garden and 6 Swifts over the house in the evening.
gulls on the Adur

Saturday 10 June 2017

Elegant Tern at Church Norton (10 June)

Saturday 10 June. What was to be a day of sorting Mongolian photos was cut short by a call from JK. The Elegant Tern had been seen again at Church Norton. Megan had gone up to London and I was looking after Cookie, not great but we went and met at High Trees again. Again news was negative by the time we got there. We decided to continue anyway and just short of Fontwell it came on the pager as having been seen again. I phoned Matt as we approached Sidlesham and he recommended parking in Church Norton lane where there were still spaces. We did and walked to Church Norton, Cookie almost pulling me along, arrived about the same time as John and Doreen but birders were coming away saying it had just flown off west. Great. We had a brief chat with Matt who had just made it in time and Jake who had cut it even finer. It turned out that it was Alan Kitson who had found it at Church Norton - great stuff Alan!! We decided to try from the beach but few terns were offshore so we wandered back and after an hour or so Barry Wright picked it out on a narrow spit some distance away. It gave good scope views sat preening on the spit and in flight but Cookie became increasingly restless which slightly hampered my viewing. Also present were 20+ Mediterranean Gulls, 15+ Little Terns, 40+ Sandwich Terns and 10+ Common Terns. Very nice.

Elegant Tern at Church Norton, poorly phone scoped with Cookie pulling at me but bill and ring visible despite that
with bridge camera at 130x

bored dog and me, Church Norton (photo Barry Wright)

me and Cookie at Church Norton, the latter happier now it looked as if we might be going home. Behind top Sussex Birders Matt Eade and John Cooper (photo Barry Wright)

Friday 9 June.
Megan and I visited Pulborough walking around the woodland and heathland trails. We heard a Wood Lark and saw Spotted Flycatcher, Treecreeper, Coal Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Jay. News of the Elegant Tern being seen again off Hayling Island at tea time had John King and I meeting at High Trees car park but it had flown off east before either of us arrived there and after waiting half an hour for more news we aborted. We'd both seen one in 2002 but the chance of seeing it in Sussex had been worth considering a dash to East Head.

Wednesday 7 June. Walking Cookie at Cuckoo's Corner produced only my second Sedge Warbler sightings of the year, more Little Egrets than Grey Herons in the nearby heronry and 5 Reed Buntings.

Sedge Warbler
 Sunday 4 June. A couple of hours at the Knepp Estate produced 2 Turtle Doves, Garden Warbler, 5 Jays and a Bullfinch while a Cuckoo was heard (but was not calling enough to be tracked down).
Turtle Dove at Knepp
Friday 2 June. A walk from Bignor to Eartham with Megan and Cookie was pretty birdless with 2 Yellowhammers the highlight.

Thursday 1 June. A nice evening for my Woodcock Survey and a Baern Owl hunting at Greatham on the way over made it even nicer. I had 10 Woodcock encounters but it is likely they involved only two birds. Also a showy pair of Nightjars and earlier a Wood Lark heard.

Wednesday 31 May. A decent day for my South Downs Farmalnd survey near the Burgh but it was rather quiet with a Red Kite the highlight and indicator spewcies represented by a sinlge Lapwing, 2 Sky Larks and 2 Yellowhammers. No Corn Buntings and only one Grey Partridge heard.

Monday 29 May. Megan and I heard a distant Quail while walking on the Down from Lancing Ring and around Steepdown with Cookie. Also 27 Corn Buntings but only 7 Sky Larks.

Corn Bunting

Sunday 28 May. Megan and I saw virtually nothing on a walk around Wolstenbury with Cookie.

Greater Butterfly Orchid