Sunday, 9 December 2018

Cuckmere gulls again (09 December)

Sunday 9 December. Cookie and I spent about three hours (10:00-13:00) with the Cuckmere gull flocks, much of the time with CWM. The gulls were more distant than they had been on recent visits and at a less helpful angle in a NW wind than if it was SW. Bright low sun made it difficult at times as did most of the birds either sitting or standing in shallow water. I saw two possibly three adult Caspian Gulls, a smart second-winter (picked out by Christian) and another possible second-winter and at least six adult Yellow-legged Gulls, one or two argentatus Herring Gulls and about 500 Lesser and 800 Great Black-backed Gulls in two flocks. A Short-eared Owl was seen distantly on the opposite side of the river in front of Foxhole Barn and I heard a Raven but didn't stop scanning the gulls to look for it. Matt went down later and saw two smart looking first-winter Caspian Gulls and a different second-winter which rather made me regret not staying longer.
second-winter Yellow-legged (front left) and adult Caspian Gull (from right) in the Cuckmere
the adult Caspian Gull showing its snoutty appearance, long thin quite washed out bill and small dark eye
the adult Caspian Gull's bill appearing quite different when foreshortened
and the bill brighter when catching the sun
adult Caspian Gull showing its small head, bulging breast and drooping rear belly
adult Caspian Gull showing its long thin washed out bill, contrasting with some of the other images
the same or another adult Caspian Gull (front left) with a sleeping adult Yellow-legged Gull (front right)
adult Caspian Gull showing its washed out bill
adult Caspian Gull showing its small head, Yellow-legged Gull still asleep
adult Caspian Gull showing its long, thin bill
adult Caspian Gull showing its small dark eye and long thin washed out bill

adult Caspian Gull - a smaller bird in the seaward flock as I was leaving
it promptly sat down and then tucked its head in and went to sleep
second-winter Caspian Gull (front centre) picked out by Christian
another good sized bird
note darker mantled adult Yellow-legged Gull rear left
second-winter Caspian Gull showing small white head, dark bullet hole eye, dark hind neck streaks and elongated rear
note darker mantled adult Yellow-legged Gull rear right
a smart looking bird and the highlight of the visit
another more advanced second-winter perhaps a shade darker above looked rather like a Caspian Gull too?
I wasn't sure I could rule out Yellow-legged Gull on these views
adult Yellow-legged Gull (front centre)
the same adult Yellow-legged Gull
another adult Yellow-legged Gull
the same adult Yellow-legged Gull showing extensive black on the primaries
another adult Yellow-legged Gull
this one looked a bit Caspian like with small eye and long thin bill but the iris appeared pale and mantle a shade dark?
argentatus Herring Gull - large size, heavily streaked head and bright pink legs
the same or a different argentatus Herring Gull seen a bit later in a different part of the flock

Saturday 8 December. Megan and I took Cookie to Steepdown seeing 20 Sky Larks, a Stonechat and 15 Reed and 60+ Corn Buntings. In the afternoon I went to Pulborough RSPB where the White-rumped Sandpiper gave brief very distant views and flew a couple of times. Only my third in Britain and the first since 1981! Also 400+ Black-tailed Godwits on the North Brooks.
Corn Bunting at Steepdown
Wednesday 5 December. At high tide two Purple Sandpipers were on the wooden jetty in Shoreham Harbour with a Rock Pipt nearby but just 3 Greenfinches. Two pairs of Red-breasted Mergansers were on Widewater.
Two Purple Sandpipers at Shoreham Harbour
Sunday 2 December. Megan and I took Cookie to Rackham where we saw virtually no small birds at all in the woods, just Blue and Great Tits. The visit was salvaged by a distant ring-tailed Hen Harrier flying over Amberley Wildbrooks and 2 Mistle Thrushes in Parham Park. Later a red-head Goosander was a pleasant surprise during a low-tide visit to the Adur which also produced North Thames Herring Gull Z5MT again.
sleeping Goosander on the Adur
Friday 30 November. A Redwing was heard after dark as I cycled along Shoreham Harbour.

Thursday 29 November. A morning around Shoreham with Cookie produced a Gannet off Shorham Fort, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers on Widewater and a French colour-ringed Great Black-backed Gull and 2 Little Grebes on the Adur.

Great Black-backed Gull 83P on the Adur, most likely from Le Havre

Wednesday 28 November.
A low-tide visit to the Adur with Cookie where an adult Yellow-legged Gull was roosting with the commoner gulls. Also North Thames Herring Gull Z5MT, 2 Little Grebe, 120 Lapwing and 21 Dunlin.

North Thames Herring Gull Z5MT
Adult Yellow-legged Gull on the Adur

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