Thursday, 29 March 2018

Shoreham gulls and further afield (16-29 March)

Thursday 29th. I took Cookie to Shoreham Fort where on a rising tide we saw a Purple Sandpiper, 12 Turnstones and a displaying Meadow Pipit. We had called in at Harbour Way beforehand and seen nothing but decided to stop again on our way to Widewater. Good move as a 3CY Iceland Gull was present, presumably the bird seen there when I was in Ecuador and at Selsey before/after. Before I could tweet it ARK arrived and we watched the bird for half an hour or so before the rising tide pushed it off and it flew towards the harbour entrance. As Alan hadn't seen anything new at Widewater we came straight home.

Iceland Gull at Harbour Way, Shoreham
first views had me thinking of an albino it was so white but I remembered the bird seen here a five or six weeks earlier had been too
small-billed and round headed compared to nearby Herring Gulls
aged as a second-winter (3CY) due to very white plumage (above and below), pale yellowish eye and reduced black on the bill tip

its legs really were short although this image is a little misleading in that respect

it had a few browner tones to the upper-wing coverts and under-tail but otherwise it was clean white enough for a washing powder advert
no Kumlien's influence in its primaries

digiscoped images of the same bird came out much browner but did show its short legs

metal ring on a Herring Gull at Harbour Way. If it had a colour ring it had been lost
Wednesday 28th. A morning high tide visit with Cookie to Shoreham Fort produced a Purple Sandpiper, 11 Turnstones and a Rock Pipit. We went on to Widewater seeing the pair of Red-breasted Mergansers. Low tide was late afternoon and we went to the Adur seeing 2 Shelduck and three coloured-ringed gulls. One was a Herring Gull which isn't likely to be too interesting but the others were both Common Gulls, a 2CY ringed as a chick in Rogeland, Norway in July 2017 and the other an adult female ringed in a colony in Estonia in May 2011 and seen there each summer since. 
Purple Sandpiper at Shoreham Fort
Norwegian Common Gull JE304 on the Adur. It was ringed as a chick at Husoy, Karmoy, Rogland in southern Norway on 7 July 2017.
more interesting, in the same flock was Estonian Common Gull P8S7
she was ringed as an adult in a colony in Matsalu Nature Reserve (SW of Tallinn) in July 2011 and has been seen in the colony every year since.
P8S7 history, all the way from Estonia by return of email
Herring Gull NA8Z on the Adur. It looked like a North Thames ring but with the final letter Z rather than T.  
a pair of Shelduck on the Adur
Tuesday 27th. Two Long-tailed Tits in Stanmer Park.

Sunday 25th. Nessa was home and we went to Kingley Vale. We arrived late and it was surprisingly busy. Although 100 Hawfinches had been seen earlier in the day I saw just 6. In any other year 6 Hawfinches would have been brilliant but I was somewhat disappointed!
Megan and Cookie at the Bow Hill Trig Point
Saturday 24th. A very enjoyable seawatch from Splash Point, Seaford started slowly but picked up and kept going until early afternoon. DB, JK and I were there from 07:00-14:30 with others, notably ME and SL, present for much of that period (and earlier in ME's case). I saw Red-throated Diver 68E:6o/s, distant diver sp. 5E, Great Crested Grebe 6, Fulmar 5+, Gannet 31E, Cormorant 5E, Brent Goose 1900E (including a flock of 640 - DB counted his video of it), Shelduck 11E:7W, Gadwall 3E, Wigeon 2o/s, Teal 6E, Pintail 9E, Shoveler 43E, Eider 6E (13:35), Common Scoter 292E, Red-breasted Merganser 3o/s, Avocet 2E (I later missed another although not as gripping as the 20 seen on the Adur that morning by ARK!), Dunlin 24E, Curlew 6E, Bar-tailed Godwit 1E, Mediterranean Gull 1W (3CY), Black-headed Gull 44E, Common Gull some E (not counted), Little Gull 30E:1W (all very smart adults), Sandwich Tern 5E, auk sp. 6E, Razorbill 1E:2o/s, Guillemot 1o/s, Rock Pipit 2 (1 a candidate for littoralis) and Raven 1. DB and I called in at Newhaven Tidemills hoping for a Wheatear but had to settle for 3 Purple Sandpipers and 3 Stonechats.
part of the big Brent Goose flock approaching Splash Point
Eider passing Splash Point, Seaford

Purple Sandpiper on Newhaven Pier

Friday 23rd. Megan and I took Cookie to Cissbury where a singing Mistle Thrush was the highlight. Later we visited the Adur where we saw the male Wheatear, thanks to tweets from ARK and PJ. It was my first of the year which is usually something I very much look forward to but it was a rather flighty individual (at least when we were there) and soon disappeared so somewhat disappointing.
Oystercatchers on the Adur
my first Wheatear of the year was a bit of a disappointment
Wednesday 21st. A single Turnstone was all we could find on an early visit to Shoreham Fort. Later I took Cookie to the Burgh but with news the Iceland Gull was again at Goring Gap we diverted. We then drove to the triangle and walked up to the dewponds north of Peppering Barn. It was very mild and we stayed in the area until dusk seeing 2 Red Kites, 11 Red-legged and 9 Grey Partridges, 9 Lapwings (some displaying), 6 Sky Larks and a flock of 70 Fieldfares. No Short-eared Owls but Barn Owls made up for it with sighitngs at the lower dew pond (hunting for 20 minutes), beyond the upper dew pond (sat on a fence), Peppering Barn (flying N), the Triangle (flying S) and across the Arun. Certainly three, probably four and possibly five?
Cookie is not that keen on visiting Shoreham Harbour
First-winter (2CY) Iceland Gull at Goring Gap, it flew almost immediately after I arrived
someone was throwing out bread, fortunately Cookie was in the car or she'd have been there first
it had quite dark underparts and coarse undertail coverts
High Down in the background

Barn Owl at the Burgh
by the lower dew pool
very much one of my favourites
Monday 20th. A Great Crested Grebe on the sea off Southwick Beach on my way home. Nice it is now in daylight.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Waiting for Spring (1-18 March)

Sunday 18 March. We awoke to find two inches of snow everywhere. We decided to take Cookie to Widewater as the roads were clear. A male Common Scoter flew past, the only thing we saw on a very cold looking sea, and a Sandwich Tern was on the lagoon, probably rather wishing it wasn't. We saw BJ who told us of an Avocet at Brooklands which we went to see. There were also 3 Dunlin there and 2 Stock Doves in our garden.
what am I doing here?
Sandwich Tern at Widewater
Avocet at Brooklands

Saturday 17 March. A morning visit to Kingley Vale with Cookie produced 260+ Hawfinches including flocks totalling about 200 exiting the vale to NE between 09:00-09:15 while 60+ were in the vale until at least 10:30 when the weather closed in. On my way a Red Kite flew over the A27 just west of Worthing and I heard Raven and Bullfinch (deja vu). Later we joined a nice family gathering at my mum's in Hove to celebrate her 92nd birthday (it had been on Thursday).

Hawfinches in Yews at Kingley Vale

brilliant to see so many and something I can't help thinking will never be repeated in my lifetime
a view south over the vale, high tide in Chichester Harbour just about visible in the distance
with the weather closing in we headed back down

hard to be sure this photo is of a cow rather than a dog
remains of warehouse following Shoreham Harbour fire
Friday 16 March. A pair of Great Black-backed Gulls were on the roof opposite where successful breeding took place last year. The nearby Herring Gulls were rather wary of them. I took Cookie to Shoreham Fort (not her favourite place) seeing 5 Sandwich Terns at Harbour Way first. Two Purple Sandpipers and 11 Turnstones were on the inner breakwater. We met ARK when leaving who told us he'd seen 7 Sandwich Terns and there had been 2 Black Redstarts around the construction fencing. Alan picked out one was we walked back which was nice but still no Wheatear. Later Megan and I had a few things to do in Shoreham and the afternoon slipped away not leaving me enough time to visit the Burgh.
adult Lesser Black-blacked Gull at Harbour Way
Sandwich Terns at Harbour Way, two more dropped in soon after I left
one was wearing a metal ring but a colour-ring would have been easy to read at this range
Thursday 15 March. An early evening low tide visit to the Adur with Cookie produced a Sparrowhawk, single adult Mediterranenan Gull and Norwegian ringed Common Gull.
Norwegian Common Gull J1Z something, the final letter obscured by mud
Wednesday 14 March. A late afternoon low tide visit to the Adur with Cookie was my best this year producing an Avocet, new North Thames Herring Gull, adult Yellow-legged Gull and 11 Mediterranenan Gulls (10 adults and a second-winter).
Avocet on the Adur
Mediterranean Gulls on the Adur
the left hand bird has an unreadable colour ring most likely from Belgium

gulls on the Adur including the second-winter Mediterranean Gull

adult Yellow-legged Gull on the Adur

North Thames Herring Gull A9XT, not one I'd recorded before
Tuesday 13 March. An early visit to Shoreham Fort with Cookie produced the Black Redstart (at long last), a single Purple Sandpiper and 11 Turnstone. We then tried Widewater where the pair of Mute Swans seemed to have finally encouraged last year's youngsters to move on.

Sunday 11 March. An early visit to Shoreham Fort with Cookie produced 7 Brent Geese flying east and a Greenfinch. At Widewater the pair of Mute Swans seemed to have established a nest at the eastern end although last year's five youngsters were still about. The pair of Red-breasted Mergansers were on the lagoon with a female on the sea and a Sandwich Tern flew east. We went on to Brooklands where we saw two pairs of Gadwall and a Redwing.

Saturday 10 March. An early visit to Shoreham Fort with Cookie produced 11 Brent Geese and 3 adult Mediterranean Gulls flying east.

Friday 9 March. A morning visit to Kingley Vale with Cookie produced 120+ Hawfinches although with an estimated 400 there the following day double that might have been more accurate. I had flocks of 32 and 62 flying north in quick succession while at least 26 remained in trees where I was. Later walking back about 100 flew north while about 20 were still around. I assumed they were the birds originally seen but who knows. On my way there a Red Kite flew over the A27 just west of Worthing, we had a walk along Mill Road at Arundel seeing 13 Redwing and 12 Fieldfare and at Kingley Vale I saw 6 Jays and heard Raven and Bullfinch.

Hawfinch at Kingley Vale
Wednesday 7 March. 19 Turnstone at Shoreham Harbour.

Tuesday 6 March. 2 Curlew, a Scandinavian Rock Pipit and 25 Linnets on the Adur.

Sunday 4 March. Megan and I took Cookie to Rackham seeing 2 Red Kites, 3 Buzzards, 2 Egyptian Geese, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch.

Saturday 3 March. 10 Shelduck, a Tufted Duck and 80+ Dunlin at Widewater.

Friday 2 March. A Lapwing and 5 Golden Plover on Middle Road playing field while later a Sparrowhawk and 106 Dunlin were seen on the Adur. Nice to be able to walk a circuit from the Old Toll Bridge down one side, across the Norfolk Bridge and back up the other again.

Thursday 1 March. A single Redwing in Stanmer Park and a Fieldfare in a flock of Starlings flying over Crown Road.