Sunday, 3 June 2018

West Sussex 27 May-03 June

Sunday 03 June. I took Cookie to the southern section of the Knepp Estate but it was surprisingly quiet. We saw Cuckoo twice and 2 Garden Warblers but failed to even hear a Turtle Dove, disappointing. Maybe I should have gone to Norfolk ...
Cuckoo at Knepp
Knepp wildlife

Saturday 02 June. We had a walk around Petworth Park on the way to dropping Megan at Chichester Festival Theatre. A pair of Egyptian Geese were our most notable sighting. I then took Cookie to West Dean Woods where we wandered around for 2.5 hours. In that time we saw a Tree Pipit (carrying food), 2 separate Marsh Tits, 4 Buzzards and 2 high flying Swifts. Back home, fortunately without a repeat of yesterday's traffic issues, the pair of Great Black-backed Gulls were nesting on a roof behind us while at least 6 Swifts were flying overhead.

Petworth Park, always looks nice but usually completely devoid of birds
West Dean Woods, view south
Chichester Cathedral and Pagham Harbour with a high tide
Friday 01 June. A trip to Pagham with DB where unexpectedly it was quite murky until mid morning. We saw 10 Avocets, 3 Little Ringed Plover, 46 Black-tailed Godwits and 6 adult and a Redshank chick on Sidlesham Ferry. We continued to Church Norton where we spent over 3 hours watching waders and terns as the tide came right in. We saw no Little Stints in the harbour, let alone the astonishing 15 from the previous afternoon. The closest we came were summer-plumaged Sanderling with 14 our highest count. The first case of '19 bird' theory? We also saw 3 Grey Plovers, 7 Knot, at least 67 Dunlin, 46 Ringed Plover, a Bar-tailed and 11 Black-tailed Godwits, a Curlew, 8 Mediterranean Gulls, 20+ Sandwich, 4+ Common, 10+ Little Terns and a Cuckoo. We continued to Medmerry, walking down to the Stilt Pools. There we saw 3 Barcnacle Geese, the grey-mantled reddish-headed Aythya hybrid seen on 3 April, 32 adult and 9 young Avocets, 4 Little Ringed and 8 Ringed Plover (5 of the latter briefly dropping in with a Dunlin), 62 Black-tailed Godwits, single Mediterranean Gull, Sandwich and Common Tern, 350+ Starlings, 3 Greenfinches and 3 Yellowhammers. Coming home traffic on the A27 was as bad as I've ever seen it with the journey from Earnley to Shoreham taking 2 hours.
Starlings at Medmerry, the top-right bird had very pale flight-feathers which really made it stand out from the others when flying (clearly not making it that obvious a target for a predator)
apart from the head the colouring was a bit like a Rose-coloured Starling in reverse but it was too obviously wrong to get at all excited on first seeing it
Wednesday 30 May. 15 Swifts, my highest count so far this year, from our garden in the evening.

Monday 28 May. Cookie kept me company on my South Downs Farmland Monitoring Survey just west of the Burgh. Including our return to the car we recorded 12 Grey and 3 Red-legged Partridges, 2 Red Kites, 2 Buzzards, a Lapwing, 9 Stock Doves, 62 Wood Pigeons, 4 Swifts, 11 Sky Larks, a Swallow, 2 Song and a Mistle Thrush, Cetti's and 2 Reed Warblers, 4 Common and a Lesser Whitethoat, 10 Blackcaps, 7 Chiffchaffs, 160 Rooks, 16 Goldfinches, 9 Linnets, a Corn Bunting and 2 Yellowhammers. The buntings and Lapwing were fortunate sightings as had they not flown up/over as I walked past would have gone unrecorded. This is the 5th year this survey has been undertaken. My route is along tracks following two sides of a triangle, the third side being a footpath along the edge of the Arun valley. When I started I could see over many of the bushes planted along the side of the tracks but they have grown taller each year and now I can only view the fields where they are overlooked by gates, hence being more reliant on birds appearing for me than being able to scan and see them. Later at least 10 Swifts were seen from our garden in the evening.

Key monitoring species: Grey Partridge
Sky Lark
Corn Bunting
the view south down the Arun from a convenient gate
a Larson trap and the only Carrion Crow seen during the survey
looking West from another convenmient gate half way through the survey 
Sunday 27 May. Megan, Nessa and I took Cookie to Pulborough where we walked around the woods. A visit to the main reserve would have been more productive but would have required leaving Cookie in the car. We heard Cuckoo and Great Spotted Woodpecker and saw 2 Little Egrets from outside the Cafe. Later I took Cookie down to the Adur for low tide. We saw 11 Ringed Plover and a Dunlin with 8 Swifts over the house in the evening.

Saturday 26 May. We were welcomed home from France by 8 Swifts over the house in the evening. It was reassuring that those we'd seen the evening before we left seemed to have been ours rather than birds passing through. They had been late arriving to the point of great concern.

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