Sunday, 17 February 2019

West Sussex in a mild mid February

Sunday 17 February. DB took JK and me to Blackdown, making the most of a decent forecast. We spent over four hours there seeing two Red Kites, six Buzzards, Wood Lark, five Stonechats, male Dartford Warbler, Goldcrests, Marsh and Coal Tits, Nuthatch, Siskin and at least five Crossbills. We also had a poor view of an almost certain Goshawk and I missed a Redpoll. It was only my fourth visit, Blackdown being the back of beyond for those of us on the mid Sussex coast and meeting the 'resident expert' DB was very informative. We called in at Knepp on the return seeing 15 Redwings, two Treecreepers and two Nuthatches.
looking south-west from Blackdown, the South Downs as far as Chanctonbury Ring were just about visible against the glare of a low sun
still lots of mist in the Weald
male Crossbill at Blackdown
male Dartford Warbler at Blackdown
Saturday 16 February. Megan and I took Cookie up to Chantry Hill and despite very poor visibility found our way to Blackpatch Hill visiting the trig point before returning via Lee Farm. Some nice habitat but little seen not helped by the weather. I recorded 500 Wood Pigeons,  10 Sky Larks, a Raven, 150 Linnets and 11 Corn Buntings. Back home two Stock Doves were feeding on our lawn.
Megan and Cookie at Blackpatch Hill trig point
Friday 15 February. I took Cookie to Shoreham Fort and Widewater. The Black Redstart was still present on the Fort but it was very murky out to sea and I only saw a single Gannet. Widewater was very quiet - just one Little Grebe, the twoCoot, tenTeal and the pair of Mute Swans chasing away a persistent immature. In the afternoon we walked down the airport side of the Adur on the newly opened footpath and back up the other side. Nothing was noticed amongst the gulls and the only waders seen were three Redshank. The area around the new footpath looks quite a mess although hopefully the vegetation will grow back. The reed filled ditch which held Reed and until recently Sedge Warbler was no more.
Black Redstart still at Shoreham Fort
view from the new footpath 'beside' the Adur
Thursday 14 February. Two Peregrines were sat on Southwick Power Station as I cycled to work. Nice that it is light now. At the University Herring Gull A4AH was feeding on the lawn, almost ten years since I first was it. 

Tuesday 12 February. An estimated 7000+ Starlings were flying around the Palace Pier at dusk. I'm not making it all the way home in daylight but ore than half the journey now is. 

Sunday 10 February. Megan, Cookie and I walked around Swanbourne Lake and were a bit dismayed at how much had been cleared on the SW side. Whatever top soil is on the slope there could easily end up in the lake. 70 Tufted Duck seemed a decent count, 30 Gadwall but no Mandarins. We left Cookie in the car at the WWT and had a quick walk around seeing Water Rail and my collection favourites - Harlequin, Long-tailed Duck and Scaly-sided Merganser.

Water Rail at Arundel WWT

Saturday 09 February. We walked along Southwick Canal seeing 30 Cormorants and three Greenfinches.

Friday 08 February. A very rough day and a reasonable tide made the Cuckmere gull flock seem a good bet but it was not to be. Despite over 3000 gulls in scattered flocks I couldn't find anything of interest (other than three unreadable colour-ringed Norwegian Great Black-backs). Great Black-backs predominated (an estimated 2600 were present including many immatures). The four regular Barnacle Geese were present and 90 Oystercatchers were roosting on the scrape. Back home three Stock Doves were feeding on our lawn.

Cuckmere from Harry's Bush
Barnacle Geese in the Cuckmere

Belle Tout from the Cuckmere on a rough day
Wednesday 06 February. I took Cookie to Shoreham Fort where the Black Redstart was still present. At Widewater I saw nine Little Grebe and the two Coot.  Pretty much as it was before I went away.
Black Redstart at Shoreham Fort

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