Sunday, 5 January 2020

Chasing swans in the Arun (3-5 January)

Sunday 05 January. A morning in West Sussex started with a Barn Owl flying south across the A27 before Poling. Not the greatest view but nice to see my main target before arriving at the site. Watching from the Black Rabbit car park with Gareth James two more Barn Owls were seen hunting on the opposite side of the Arun and crossing the river, one looking a shade or two darker than normal. Leaving the Arundel WWT roost we saw two Marsh Harriers and a Little Egret, but not the Hen Harrier Matt Eade saw from further down the river bank. A Woodcock flew over us but not Matt which evened things up a bit, not often I can say that. A quick look around the north side of Swanbourne Lake produced 4 Mandarins before I left for Burpham. The three Bewick's and two Black Swans had flown SW from Pulborough that morning and I was hopeful they'd be visible from Burpham Church. They were, scanning over the brooks I immediately saw the two Black Swans and in front of them were the three adult Bewick's. Not close but very welcome all the same. At least six Common and a smart Siberian Chiffchaff were feeding along the fence at the sewage works with a Grey Wagtail briefly in the tank. Two Ravens flew over and 40 Fieldfares and 2 Redwing were in nearby trees. I continued on to Patching Pond where I joined others looking for the 'Northern' Treecreeper. After about 90 minutes Dave Sadler called me over, it had been found in a hedge to the NE of the pub. Its underparts were very white and the supercillium flared but from what I could see it lacked any frosty tones to the upperparts. It left me feeling somewhat underwhelmed and my expectations hadn't been high to start with. Also in the area were Coal and Long-tailed Tits, a smart Firecrest and a Nuthatch. In the afternoon Megan and I took Cookie to the Adur seeing 7 Oystercatchers, 9 Ringed and a Grey Plover, 7 Dunlin, 11 Redshank and a Stonechat on a Norfolk/Old Toll Bridge circuit. There was nothing of note amongst the gulls today.
Black and Bewick's Swans (and Greylag Geese) from Burpham Church
all three Bewick's, is this it for this winter?
Siberian Chiffchaff showing nicely its very distinctive buffy face
to my eyes the upperparts are more brown than grey

Saturday 04 January. Megan and I took Cookie to Cissbury but it was almost birdless although a pair of Stonechats along a fence on the southern approach were nice.
Stonechat at Cissbury - into what light there was on a dull day
Friday 03 January. I took Cookie to Shoreham Fort. Polish Black-headed Gull T5PE was along Harbour Way, on the mud near the Sailing Club. The tide appeared too low for Purple Sandpipers although 2 Turnstones were present. A half an hour seawatch produced  5 Brent Geese, 4 distant auks, 3 Great Crested Grebes, a Red-throated Diver and 3 Gannets. Stopping at the Adur on the way home about 200 Black-headed, 400 Common and 150 Herring Gulls were present as was a single Brent Goose. Spending a couple of hours with the gulls I saw 4 adult Mediterranean Gulls and 2 repeat North Thames Herring Gulls. A Common Gull had a metal ring, which in itself was annoying, but I realised was standing on one leg. It put its other leg down revealing a white ring with 4 characters but immediately sat down and went to sleep before I could read them. Earlier another Common Gull standing in a bit of a creek had at least three slim uncoded colour rings on one leg: white, red and purple. It walked a short distance, confirming it only had the three rings on that leg and a red ring on the other, before moving out of sight. Initial thoughts that it might be Estonian were incorrct, suggestion now is its Polish. After lunch Megan and I took Cookie to Rackham where brief scans from Rackham Mill and viewpoint produced a ring-tailed Hen and at least three each of Marsh Harrier and Red Kite but not the hoped for Bewick's Swans. The woods were quiet with a Nuthatch and Coal Tit (heard) all I could come up with.
Polish Black-headed Gull T5PE, my third sighting of this bird in the Shoreham area this winter following one here a year ago
my first uncoded colour ringed gull although I'm struggling to find out where this Common Gull came from
North Thames Herring Gull G2JT on the Adur. It was ringed as 1CY at Pitsea in Essex in November 2014 and seen at Shoreham Harbour in January 2015, Pitsea and Beddingham in October 2015, on the Adur on 15th and back at Beddingham on 19 November 2015and January 2016, Pitsea in February 2016, the Thames Barrier Park in August 2017 and most recently the Adur on 04 December 2019
North Thames Herring Gull N2HT on the Adur. It was ringed as 1CY at Pitsea in October 2013 and seen at Beddington in March 2014 and on the Adur on 05 November 2015 before reappearing today
Mediterranean Gull on the Adur
another Mediterranean Gull on the Adur
a third Mediterranean Gull on the Adur

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