Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Cuckmere 24 December

Tuesday 24 December. An afternoon visit to the Cuckmere with Cookie where the gull flock opposite Harry's Bush numbered about 850, well down on recent visits. About 700 were Great Black-backs including two with colour-rings (an unread Norwegian and a Normandie bird), 100+ Herrings included a North Thames colour-ringed bird and two Scandinavian argentatus while one of 30+ Lesser Black-backs was ringed in Suffolk. In a little over two hours watching the flock I saw just two Yellow-legged Gulls (first-winter and adult) and, after over an hour and a half of looking, a third-winter Caspian which was a somewhat disappointing return compared to recent visits. The only other species I noted were Wigeon, a Stonechat  and 25 Meadow Pipits.
Normandie Great Black-backed Gull T64, looking like the terminator
North Thames Herring Gull K0CT
Suffolk Lesser Black-backed Gull APAJ. It was ringed as a chick on Havergate Island, Suffolk in July 2009 and subsequently seen in Malaga, Spain in January 2011, back at Havergate in July 2012 and Dungeness on 19 December 2017 and 19 and 21 December 2018.
this first-winter had me interested

but looked more Yellow-legged than Caspian
this one looked better
third-winter Caspian Gull with stilt-like legs
small head, dark bullet-hole eye and long thin bill

Sunday 23 December. We went to Brooklands which the recent Pochard and Teal seemed to have deserted. We saw 2 Little Grebes, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, single Coal and Long-tailed Tits, Stonechat and Reed Bunting. Another low tide that wasn't visit to the Adur with Cookie produced just 2 Redshank and a handful of common gulls.

Saturday 22 December. Nessa was down for Christmas and we went to Petworth. After a walk in the park she and Megan visited the house while Cookie and I went around the lake. No Goosander was disappointing with 4 Egyptian Geese, 12 Pochard and 34 Tufted Duck little compensation. The park was almost birdless, no thrushes or finches seen and only enlivened by a Green Woodpecker and Stonechat.

Friday 21 December. Another abortive low tide visit to the Adur with Cookie where we saw a Little Grebe, 90 Lapwings, 12 Redshank and few gulls.

Thursday 20 December. I took Cookie to Shoreham Fort where three Purple Sandpipers were on the inner arm. Later a visit to the Adur at low tide produced just 50 Lapwings and 11 Redshank. There were very few gulls, not helped by the lack of exposed sand bars as the river was heavily in flood. They did include what I took to be a large looking second-winter Lesser Black-back.

spot the Purple Sandpipers, Shoreham Harbour
gulls on the Adur

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