Tuesday 30 April 2019

Seaford seawatches (29 and 30 April 2019)

Tuesday 30 April. I met JK in Seaford and we seawatched from Splash Point from 06:20-12:00, most of the time with SL with others. During this period I saw the following flying east: 3 Canada Geese, 7 Shoveler, 337 Common and 2 Velvet Scoter (@ 06:40), 4 divers of which 2 were identified as Red-throated and 1 as Black-throated), 10 Gannets, 10 Avocets (4 @ 07:09 then 2s at 07:11, 09:02 & 09:42), 36 Whimbrel, 270 Bar-tailed Godwits (4 landing on the beach near us until I reached for my camera), single Curlew, Turnstone, Knot, Sanderling and Dunlin, a close juvenile Little and 13 Mediterranean Gulls (5 adults, 3 second-summers and 5 first-summers), 118 Sandwich, 25 Little, 290 Commic and 4 Black Terns, 7 Arctic Skuas (1 pale & 6 dark-morphs) and a Guillemot. The Surf Scoter seen at Selsey might well have past in a distant flock (all scoter flocks were distant by the time it would have gone by) but they were too far out to get an accurate count let alone spot one with small white patches. If so it would be the second spring running SL, JK and I failed to pick a Surf Scoter out of a passing flock. The 4 Black Terns were superb and the highlight of the watch, nice and close at 08:06. Also 5 Common Sandpipers and 8 Oystercatchers were seen on the groynes. Later Megan and I took Cookie to the Adur where a Whimbrel was feeding on the mud at low tide, otherwise 2 Oystercatchers were the only waders seen - a low return given the wader movement witnessed at Seaford.
Kittiwake cliffs at Seaford Head
Arctic Skua passing Splash Point, Seaford

Whimbrel on the Adur
Monday 29 April. I seawatched at Splash Point from 05:30-12:30, more in hope than expectation, the last half with SL which made the time pass quicker. I saw the following flying east: 19 Common Scoter, Red-throated Diver, a distant Manx Shearwater (ME's normal range!), 2 Great Crested Grebes, 19 Gannets, 14 Whimbrel, 46 Bar-tailed Godwits, 6 Mediterranean Gulls (4 adults and 2 first-summers), just 6 Sandwich Terns and 3 Arctic Skuas (1 pale & 2 dark-morphs). One of the first birds seen was a Great Skua flying west and later in the morning over 20 hirundines came in, mostly Swallows but also 2 House Martins. Later I took Cookie to Cuckoo's Corner and we walked north. We heard a Lesser Whitethroat and saw a Sedge Warbler but the ditches where I was hoping to find Reed Warbler were very sparsely vegetated. At least they were still there, unlike the airfield side of the Adur.
first-summer Mediterranean Gull at Splash Point

Sedge Warbler at Cuckoo's Corner
Sunday 28 April. A morning at Greatham and then Pulborough produced a good selection of commoner warblers even if more were heard than seen. Also several Nightingales (1 seen and 2 heard at both sites), a distant Cuckoo heard briefly at Greatham, Marsh Harrier, Little Ringed Plover and Common Swift at Pulborough. Later Megan and I took Cookie to Southwick Canal where we saw Lesser Whitethroat.
Nightingale at Greatham

Saturday 27 April. Megan and I took Cookie to Cissbury where we saw 2 and heard a third Lesser Whitethroat in very windy conditions. Later I took Cookie to the Adur where we saw North Thames Herring Gull X9TT. 

Herring Gull X9TT, one I thought I'd seen on the Adur in August 2018 but hadn't been sure.
Friday 26 April. I seawatched at Widewater from 06:00-07:30 and saw 25 Common Scoter, 2 distant divers, 13 Gannets, a Whimbrel, 40 Bar-tailed Godwits, a second-summer Mediteranean Gull, 12 Sandwich Terns and 2 Great Skuas (one quite close). In addition I heard different Whimbrel and Mediterranean Gull. Later Megan and I took Cookie to Wolstenbury but saw little.

Thursday 25 April 2019

Seaford seawatch (25 April 2019)

Thursday 25 April. I seawatched from Seaford from 05:55-12:55 joining ME and DB at the eastern shelter which only seats two. MR shortly joined me on the sheltered side and where we avoided most of the fewer than forecast showers. We'd been waiting for the SE wind all week and were not disappointed but although good it was not the classic watch/Pom day we had been hoping for. 

I recorded the following flying east: 49 Brent Geese, 8 Velvet# and 546 Common Scoter, a very close Great Northern, 3 Red-throated and 3 Black-throated Divers (with 3 more unidentified), 2.5 Manx Shearwaters##, 202 Gannets, an Avocet (sat on the sea), 42 Whimbrel, 41 Bar-tailed Godwits, 71 Black-headed, a black-winged immature Little and 71 Mediterranean Gulls (67 adults and 4 first-summers), 158 Sandwich2 Little, 6 Common13 Arctic, 34 Commic and a Black Tern, 28 Great, 33 Arctic (6 pale and 27 dark) and a distant pale-morph Pomarine Skua (at 11:28) and 10 auks.

Later Megan and I took Cookie along Southwick Beach but only saw the Peregrine on the Power Station.

# The Velvet Scoter were a single and a flock of 7, the latter passing us at 07:12 and JFC et al at Birling at 07:20. The Common Scoter included an unusual white-winged individual at 11:05 that had been seen in Dorset and was later recorded at Dungeness.

## ME saw 22 Manx Shearwaters although more than half were in the half hour before I arrived. Having said that I only saw two well, the half representing a wing which was all I saw of a distant group of three ME was tracking.

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Seaford seawatch (24 April 2019)

Wednesday 24 April. I seawatched from Splash Point, Seaford from 05:30-14:00 arriving there a bit after ME and a bit before JK, JG and SL. Other observers came and went but it was generally slow with variable visibility and a couple of heavy showers as the wind moved round from E to SE to SW. By 13:00 just JK and I remained. I recorded the following flying east (unless stated otherwise): 6 Brent Geese, 5 Shelduck, 2 Gadwall, 2 Shoveler, Teal, 87 scoter, 6 Red-throated Divers (and 3 more unidentified), an even more distant Manx Shearwater than yesterday's (ME in his element with a new telescope), 52 Gannets, , 2 Little Egrets (W), 16 Whimbrel, 95 Bar-tailed Godwits, just 35 Mediterranean (32 adults, 1 second-summer and 2 first summers), 86 Sandwich Terns, 13 Great, 13 Arctic (6 dark, 4 pale and 3 indeterminate) and a flock of three pale-morph Pomarine Skuas (at 08:46). The Pomarine Skuas were seen by JFC et al at Birling 11 minutes later (as was yesterday's single). They were accompanied by two Arctic Skuas when we saw them. I missed an Eider and the only Commioc Tern seen while a Wheatear rested on the groyne for a while and a pair of Egyptian Geese that came in from the east ended up on the cliff-top.
Wheatear on the groyne at Splash Point, Seaford
a welcome distraction during one of the many quieter periods

Tuesday 23 April 2019

Seaford seawatch (23 April 2019)

Tuesday 23 April. I seawatched at Seaford from 05:30-13:30 arriving about the same time as EU and ME. Other observers came and went and it was slowing down when I left although SL and AG and a few others were persevering. I recorded the following flying east (unless stated otherwise): 10 Brent and a Canada Goose, 2 Shelduck, 9 Shoveler, 7 Pintail, 27 Teal, a female Eider, 370 scoter, 3 each of Red and Black-throated Diver (and 2 more unidentified), a very distant Manx Shearwater, 30 Gannets, a Grey Heron in, 2 superb Avocets (at 09:48), 64 Whimbrel, 670 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Knot, 2 Sanderling, 4 Dunlin, 5 Little, 192 Mediterranean (162 adults, 16 second-summers and 14 first summers) and 23 Common Gulls, 68 Sandwich, 105 distant Commic and 3 Little Terns, 6 Great, 6 Arctic (3 dark and 3 pale) and best of all a superb pale-morph Pomarine Skua (at 07:02). The Pomarine Skua was motoring and was seen by JFC et al at Birling 11 minutes later. While the tide was low 3 Common Sandpipers were on the groyne and 2 White Wagtails came in although I only saw one of them. SL also had a Garganey with 2 close scoter but I was slow getting onto it and haven't included it in my totals above. Otherwise an enjoyable seawatch. A late afternoon walk along the Adur at high tide with Megan and Cookie produced 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls flying north and a Dunlin

Monday 22 April. I watched at Widewater from 05:55-08:55, much in the company of ARK. I saw 44 Brent and 2 Greylag Geese, 3 Mute Swans, 178 Common Scoter, Little Egret, 28 Whimbrel, 21 Bar-tailed Godwits, Kittiwake, 114 Black-headed, 27 Mediterranean (24 adults, 1 second-summer and 2 first-summers) and 47 Common Gulls, 53 Sandwich Terns, 4 dark-morph Arctic Skuas flying E and a Sand Martin and 3 Swallows came in. Rather disappointing compared to the previous couple of days not helped by murky conditions and distant birds. I gave up which turned out to be a mistake as shortly after it picked up, at least nearby sites did. I took Cookie to the Knepp Estate seeing Nightingale, Red Kite and Whitethroats and Blackcaps but didn't even hear a Cuckoo or Lesser Whitethroat although mid/late morning probably isn't the best time to look. With the wind round to SE I tried watching from Shoreham Fort from 19:00-19:40 seeing 15 Brent Geese, 7 Common Scoter, 30 Bar-tailed Godwits, 6 Sandwich and a Common Tern and 2 pale-morph Arctic Skuas which landed on the sea.
Nightingale at Knepp
singing his heart out

Sunday 21 April 2019

Seawatching off Widewater (20-21 April)

Sunday 21 April. I arrived at Widewater at 06:05, five minutes after ARK and 8 Mediterranean Gulls down. ARK left at 08:15 and as the Meds kept coming I stayed until 11:05 by which time they'd dried up somewhat. I recorded 358E (20 first-summers, 15 second-summers and 323 adults) and 3 adults W with at least another 3 and probably 15-20 heard. Also flying E were 847 Black-headed and 195 Common Gulls, 5 Eider (3 males and 2 females at 06:56), 63 Brent Geese, 3 Scoter, 2 Little Egrets, 16 Whimbrel, 6 Bar-tailed Godwits, 15 Knot, a dark Arctic Skua, 24 Sandwich Terns (with 3 W) and unusually for here 2 close Kittiwakes (with 3 W), A Sand Martin, 7 Swallows, 4 Goldfinches and 2 Linnets came in. Later Megan, Nessa and I took Cookie up to Mill Hill where there was a Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Greenfinch.
Mediterranean Gulls on the move off Widewater, six appeared to be the most frequent flock size
Saturday 20 April. I arrived at Widewater at 06:20 and was soon joined by ARK. I watched to 09:20 recording the following easterly passage: 43 Brent Geese, 3 Shelduck, 8 Common Scoter, 4 Fulmars, 19 Whimbrel, a Curlew, 43 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Greenshank (at 07:32), 124 Mediterranean Gulls (and 2w), 21 Little Gulls (a close juvenile and a very distant pack of about 20), 454 Black-headed Gulls, 53 Common Gulls, 20 Sandwich Terns (and 2W), 4 Swallows, 9 pipits, 5 Goldfinches and 4 Linnets came in and later, with Nessa, Megan and Cookie, there was a Wheatear on the beach. 

Friday 19 April 2019

Seaford seawatch (19 April 2019)

Friday 19 April. I arrived at Splash Point at 05:55, five minutes before JK. We'd both been undecided about visiting with more NE winds forecast and independently woke up early and gave it a go. It was a good decision with an enjoyable 4 hour watch although the last half hour was very slow. During this time I saw 17 Brent Geese, 13 Shoveler, 4 Teal, a flock of 6 Eider (4 males), 122 Common Scoter, a Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Red-throated Divers, 36 Gannets, a Red Kite (over Seaford), 4 Oystercatchers, 2 Avocets (08:06), 21 Whimbrel, 3 Curlew, 5 Arctic Skuas (4 dark, 1 pale), 18 Bar-tailed Godwits, 60 Black-headed, 51 Little and 35 Mediterranean Gulls, 117 Sandwich and 18 distant Common/Arctic Terns flying east. Also North Thames Herring Gull D5VT was briefly on the groyne and the Black Redstart singing from behind the car park  while 2 Wood Pigeons, a Sand Martin, 2 Swallows, a Yellow Wagtail, a probable White Wagtail and 7 pipits came in. After the seawatch JK and I went up to Hope Gap which was quite but scoping from near Harry's Bush revealed a very distant juvenile Spoonbill on the scrape on the east side of Cuckmere Haven.
moonset at Splash Point, 06:00
Stonechat in Hope Gap
Thursday 18 April. The best birds I saw during an enjoyable morning with DB on Ashdown Forest were 2 Wood Larks, 2 House Martins, 1-2 Dartford Warblers, 9+ Redstarts, 3+ Tree Pipits and 10 Redpolls although Cuckoo was only heard.
Kestrel in Ashdown Forest
male Redpoll 
male Redstart
Wednesday 17 April. My car was due to go into the garage so I couldn't go far. A look up our road showed it to be misty so I headed for Mill Hill rather than the coast. I saw 2 Swallows, a male Redstart, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, 3 Blackcaps and a Yellowhammer making it my most worthwhile visit this spring although later seawatching reports suggested the coast could have been interesting with a good movement of Mediterranean Gulls.
view west from Mill Hill
male Yellowhammer on Mill Hill
Tuesday 16 April. I took Cookie down to Shoreham Fort. Visibility wasn't particularly good out to sea and little was moving although a flock of 6 Mediterranean Gulls flew E. A male Wheatear was on the beach and a Peregrine on Southwick Power Station just about visible.  

Monday 15 April 2019

Seaford Seawatch (15 April 2019)

Monday 15 April. I arrived on the arm at Splash Point at 06:10, half an hour after Matt but just in time for a male Scaup tagged on to a flock of scoter. We stayed to 13:40 being joined on the front row by a not so early DB. It was a very enjoyable seawatch although it died off to a certain extent mid-way through when the company was greatly appreciated. During my 7.5 hours I recorded 56 Brent and a Barnacle Goose, 10 Shelduck, 4 Garganey (2 males with a female and two initially misidentified Teal at 08:50 and another male at 09:47), 14 Shoveler, 10 Gadwall, 40 Teal, 8 Velvet Scoter (flocks of 3 and 5), 1089 Common Scoter, 20 divers of which 9 were identified as Red-throated and 9 as Black-throated, 292 Gannets, 3 Manx Shearwaters (2+1), 17 Grey Plover, 65 Whimbrel, a Curlew, 13 Bar-tailed and 2 summer-plumaged Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Sanderling, 2 Dunlin, 21 Little and 4 Mediterranean Gulls, 4 Great and 10 Arctic Skuas, 55 Sandwich and 37 Commic Terns (all identified being Common) and 94 auks (Guillemots outnumbering Razorbills 4:1 of those identified). Two Swallows came in and the female-plumaged Black Redstart was singing occasionally.

Sunday 14 April. DB joined me on my South Downs Farmland Birds survey near the Burgh. He was much quicker picking up calls than I was and doubtless a few birds wouldn't have been recorded without his help. Highlights were a slightly disappointing 10 each of Grey and Red-legged Partridge, 5+ Red Kites, 5 Ravens, 17 Sky Larks and 2 Yellowhammers. Later Megan and I took Cookie up to Mill Hill and heard Sky Lark and Chiffchaff.

Saturday 13 April. Megan and I took Cookie up to Chantry Hill but she wasn't getting out of the car due to not too distant shooting. We continued on to Houghton Forest where a two hour walk produced Swallow, Chiffchaff and Blackcap but only one of each seen.

Friday 12 April. DB drove us over to Rye where the three Twite were still hanging on. We also saw a superb adult Little and 60 Mediterranean Gulls, the rather dull plumaged male Ring-necked Duck, a pair of Marsh Harriers, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 50 Avocets, a Whimbrel, 50 Sand and a House Martin, single Yellow and White Wagtails, 6 Wheatears, a Whitethroat and 95 Linnets. We came back via Pett Level walking along the side to the Pannel Valley. There we saw 50 Mediterranean Gulls, another pair of Marsh Harriers, 2 more Little Ringed Plovers and 4 Avocets. Two of the Mediterranean Gulls were colour-ringed, PPJ9 ringed as a chick at Wojcice, Opolskie, Poland in June 2015 and not seen since and 2J19 ringed as an adult at Great Yarmouth in November 2014 and seen there in successive winters to December 2017, at Southend Pier in June 2017 and Hayling Oyster Beds in February and April 2018.
Little Gull on Castle Water

Mediterranean Gull 2J19 near Pannel Valley
another Mediterranean Gull on Pett Level
Thursday 11 April. My last day at work although officially I don't retire until the end of the month. I was given a decent send off at work which just about met the no-fuss definition I'd asked for. A Peregrine was on Southwick Power Station on my cycle there.

Tuesday 09 April. A Peregrine was on Southwick Power Station on my cycle to work.

Monday 08 April.Peregrine was on Southwick Power Station on my cycle to work with two Wheatears on Southwick Beach on my return.

Sunday 07 April. An early visit to Shoreham Fort with Cookie produced single Little Egret, Sandwich Tern and Mediterranean Gull (heard). The Adur was even worse with just 2 Oystercatchers. Later we went to Greatham but it was little better with three Stonechats best - a pair and what looked good for a continental male.
female Stonechat

ordinary looking male Stonechat
a much paler bird with extensive white on neck, wings, belly
and rump

Saturday 6 April 2019

Seawatching at Seaford (5-6 April)

Saturday 6 April. I seawatched at Seaford from 06:15-11:15 in strengthening NE wind, mostly with ME, JK and SL. Not a patch on yesterday's SE'ly but still just about enough to keep one's interest. I recorded 3 Brent, 2 Canada and a Greylag Goose, 9 Shoveler, 2 Pintail, 20 Teal, 3 Velvet and 270 Common Scoter, 8 Red-breasted Mergansers, 18 Red-throated Divers, 45 Gannets, single Curlew and Dunlin, a second-summer Mediterranean Gull, 92 Sandwich and 13 Common Terns, a dark Arctic Skua and a Razorbill. Also seen were the Pied Crow, a singing female-plumaged Black Redstart, male Wheatear and adult White Wagtail. On the way home a Buzzard was over the A27 at West Hove. Later Megan and I took Cookie up to Mill Hill but a Stock Dove was the most notable bird seen.
Peregrine at Splash Point, Seaford
clear signs of blood on its breast

Friday 5 April. A SE forecast came true and produced one of the most enjoyable early spring seawatches I can remember. I watched with ME and JK from 06:00 (still dark). I stayed to 13:00 when I reluctantly left ME and JM-S and returned home for Megan's birthday. I recorded 25 Brent Geese, 2 Shoveler, 23 Teal, 6 Eider, 3 close Velvet and 1149 Common Scoter, 7 Red-breasted Mergansers, 31 Red-throated and 3 Black-throated Divers, 451 Gannets, a close tight flock of 9 Avocets, 2 Grey Plover, 7 Curlew, 3 Sanderling, 19 Little and 2 Mediterranean Gulls, 701 Sandwich and 283 Common Terns (all those identified being Common), 7 Great and 29 Arctic Skuas, 10 unidentified auks and 4 Guillemots. Also seen were 4 Peregrines and the Pied Crow. On the way home a Buzzard was over the A27 at Stanmer.

Tuesday 2 April. A Peregrine on Southwick Power Station on my way home from work.

Monday 1 April. A Peregrine on Southwick Power Station on my way to work.