Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Waiting for a Wheatear (8-19 March)

The first Spring Wheatear is one of the most eagerly anticipated events of my birding calendar and as the years go, knowing there have been many more behind than there are ahead each year's seems more valuable. In 36 years I've seen my first Wheatear in March (four times on 17th, four the 18th and 5 the 23rd). In ten it has been in April and twice (1971 and 1982) not until Autumn but I had been birding in Asia from January to July. 

08 March 2019. A Wheatear today would be my earliest ever so it was no surprise I didn’t see one. A circuit with Cookie from Lancing Ring to Cowbottom, Coomb Head and Steepdown produced two Grey Partridges, Buzzard, three Mediterranean Gulls (amongst 2500 Commons), Stock Dove, Tawny Owl (heard), Great Spotted Woodpecker, 41 Sky Larks (providing the walk’s soundtrack, 115 Linnets, a Reed and five Corn Buntings. Later the Curlew was seen on the Adur from the Norfolk Bridge.
looking East to Truleigh Hill
Corn Bunting
Mediterranean Gull on the Downs
Steepdown with Cookie
09 March 1977: My earliest every Spring Wheatear was a male along the coast west of Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. It remained for several days (I also saw it on 11/12th) and was easily the highlight of a four-week residential Accountancy course (a career path I quickly gave up on). Hearing Little Owls most evenings was nice and seeing 1-2 on several occasions even better.

09 March 2019. An hour seawatching from Shoreham Harbour produced an unidentified diver, single Common Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser and Kittiwake, two Fulmars and 35 Brent Geese all flying east. At least 500 Common Gulls were on the Adur including one with an unreadable white colour ring. Amongst them was a second-winter Mediterranean Gull. Later I visited Pulborough (sadly an increasingly infrequent activity since Cookie joined the family) seeing the two White-fronted and four Egyptian Geese, 50+ Pintail, 100+ Shoveller, two Tufted Duck (a pair?), Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Ruff, 27 Black-tailed Godwits, two Coal Tits, four Redwing and a singing Chiffchaff.

10 March 1983. A male Wheatear seen at Farlington.
10 March 2019. A very windy Rackham with Megan and Cookie. No birds of note seen and only Coal Tit and Nuthatch heard.

12 March 1994. A male Wheatear on the beach at Hove (my earliest in Sussex).
12 March 1995. A male Wheatear at Shoreham Fort.

13 March 2019. A tour of the usual Shoreham sites seeing nine Gannets off the Harbour, three Little Egrets at Widewater, eight Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the Adur and a Mistle Thrush and Chiffchaff in Buckingham Park, the last probably a migrant.

14 March 1981. Two male Wheatears at Birling Gap.
14 March 2009. Three male Wheatears at Widewater.
14 March 2017. A male Wheatear on Southwick Beach.
14 March 2019. A Peregrine on Southwick Power Station.

15 March 1997. A Wheatear at Beachy, I’m ashamed to say my notes didn’t specify if it was a male or female
15 March 2019. Two Purple Sandpipers below the wooden jetty at Shoreham Harbour, three Red-breasted Mergansers on Widewater. A Great Crested Grebe on the sea and seven Gannets offshore. Still nothing on the beach.

16 March 2004. A male Wheatear at Widewater.
16 March 2019.Three Sky Larks heard at a very breezy Cissbury with Megan and Cookie.

17 March 1984. A male and female Wheatear at Beachy.
17 March 1990. Five Wheatears at Dungeness.
17 March 2001. 33 Wheatear at Shoreham, one at Harbour Way, 17 at Beach Green and 15 at Widewater. Absolutely brilliant.
17 March 2012. Three male Wheatears at Widewater.
17 March 2019. Nothing offshore during a very clear 06:50-07:20 although a pale looking alba Wagtail came in and a Peregrine was on the Power Station. Three Little Egrets and the three Red-breasted Mergansers were on Widewater and a Song Thrush in Buckingham Park.

18 March 1979. A female Wheatear at Walberswick where I called in on the way back from seeing my first a Common Crane near Scunthorpe. Also at Walberswick Bittern (heard), Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl.
18 March 2001. Not my first of the year but my highest spring count with 56 Wheatears between Shoreham Harbour and Widewater. Also two Black Redstarts.
18 March 2005. Four male Wheatears on the beach at Southwick.
18 March 2010. Two males and a female Wheatear on the beach at Southwick.
18 March 2015. Three male Wheatears at Shoreham Fort.
18 March 2019. Two Peregrines on Southwick Power Station and a Jay in Stanmer Park. Seven Pied Wagtails on the beach at Southwick but still no Wheatears.
male Wheatear at Shoreham Fort on 18 March 2012 (three the previous day were my first of that year)
the same bird as above, a female was also present
a male Wheatear on the West Arm of Shoreham Harbour on 18 March 2015. It and two others arrived during an otherwise dull seawatch.
19 March 2019. I've never seen my earliest Wheatear before on 19 March and this year was no exception as a walk along Southwick Beach on my way home from work drew another blank. A Peregrine on the Power Station was little compensation. So I'm still waiting ...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.