Monday, 10 February 2020

Cuckmere - gulls and water (10 February)

Monday 10 February. I spent the morning in the Cuckmere hoping the very high tide and strong winds would bring a good number of gulls into the roost. I left Cookie at home as I expeced it to be muddy, and it was. There were at least 1500 large gulls present, 1200 opposite Harry's Bush and 300 north of the A259. The majority were Great Black-backs, about 1200, with most of the rest Herrings. I saw 10-15 Lesser Black-backs and a first-winter Caspian although it wasn't the cleanest I've seen and perhaps wasn't pure? There were another 500 or so smaller gulls casually split fairly evenly between Common and Black-headed with one adult Mediterranean. At any one time many of the gulls were sitting down, unsurprisingly in the strong wind but it made seeing rings difficult. Despite this at least 12 had colour rings although most were too distant to read. I left disappointed thinking I'd only nailed two or three but reviewing images I managed six. In the damp fields north of the A259 I counted 40 Pied Wagtails, 21 Rock and 12 Meadow Pipits but couldn't find any Waters. The two red-head Goosanders were on the scrape, probably all the time as I saw them from above the cottages as I was arriving at 09:00 and leaving just before 13:00. Two Barnacle Geese were with the Canadas but otherwise only Wigeon, Shoveler, Curlew and Green Woodpecker were noted, although it was a gull visit.
Cuckmere River overflowing at high tide into the pub car park
and nearer the sea

Lesser Black-backed Gull 9CF1. I'd given up on reading this one especially as it then sat down so was pleasantly surprised to have taken a digiscoped image that enabled me to do so, just. Thanks to Wayne Turner and Simon Linington I've learnt that it was a male ringed at Chouet Landfill, Guernsey as an adult (i.e. in at least its fourth calander year) on 20 April 14 and subsequently seen at Caleta de Vélez, Malaga in January 2015, back at Chouet Landfill that March, in Pembroke Bay in August and around Malaga in November 2015, August 2016, November 2018, August 2019 and January (14-22nd) 2020. It clearly likes its Spanish winter holidays although it may go further south.
Norwegian Common Gull JC616, another I'd thought too distant to be able to read so I was pleasantly surprised how clear this digiscoped image was. It was ringed as a first year on 13 August 2017 at Liavatnet, Nyborg, Bergen, Hordaland and seen at Tveitevannet, Bergen on 21 August and Liavatnet, Nyborg  on 29/08/17
Normandie Great Black-backed Gull 76W, you'll have to take my word for the 7
Norwegian Great Black-backed Gull JJ761. It was ringed as a chick on 24 June 2019 at Klekkjesteinane, Bømlo, Hordaland, Norway, seen later that year by Martin Casemore at Dungeness on 07 September and at Boulogne-sur-Mer "bassin Loubet", Pas-de-Calais, on 26 September and 04 October.
Norwegian Great Black-backed Gull JT658. Ringed as a chick on 06 July 2013 at Kjellingen, Mandal, Vest-Agder, Norway, it has been seen in Noord-Holland at Bloemendaal Beach on 22 April 2015, Groote Keeten Strand on 30 May 2015 and Katwijk aan Zee Strand, Buitenwatering N on 28 March & 07 October 2019
first-winter Caspian Gull in the Cuckmere
not the cleanest I've seen
otherwise it looked pretty good, long thin black bill
thumb-nail tertials, black primaries
nice pale underwing too, assuming the same bird!
the same bird seen a bit later and looking greyer on the mantle
Mediterranean Gull in the Cuckmere
distant Song Thrush with the new camera
Robin with the new camera, just need something a bit rarer to practice on

Sunday 09 February. Strong winds and the promise of rain put me off going out with my new camera so Megan and I settled on taking Cookie around the Adur Saltings. The high tide still wasn't big enough to reveal anything with 7 Oystercatchers seen from the footbridge best. 

Saturday 08 February. Megan and I took Cookie to Mill Hill and in complte contrast to our previous visit we heard Sky Lark, Blue Tit, Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird and Dunnock singing while Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and 2 Ravens flew over. Later I took Cookie to the Adur seeing Curlew, Little Grebe, Sparrowhawk, adult Mediterranean Gull and two Polish colour-ringed Black-headed Gulls although only one was readable.

Blackbird on Mill Hill, my first bird photo with a new Panasonic camera

Dunnock on Mill Hill
distant Buzzard over Mill Hill
Cookie on Mill Hill
Lancing College from Mill Hill
digiscoped image of Polish colour-ringed Black-headed Gull TWA4
another presumed Polish colour-ringed Black-headed Gull, only in view for a short period and too far to read any of the ring
digiscoped Mediterranean Gull on the Adur
heavily cropped with the new camera
Friday 07 February. I took Cookie to Shoreham Fort at high tide seeing 4 Purple Sandpipers and 2 Turnstones on the wooden jetty, 2 Brent Geese at Harbour Way and absolutely nothing offshore. We called in at the Adur Saltings but it wasn't a big high tide and all but 12 Teal, 12 Redshank and the Greenshank were keeping out of sight in the channels. Later a low tide visit to the Adur produced 3 Grey Plover but nothing of note amongst a thousand of so gulls. 

Thursday 06 February. Megan was going to Petworth House to see an exhibition so Cookie and I went to the park hoping a Goosander might be on the Lower Pond. None were although we had to walk round (twice) to be sure as a thick blanket of fog hanging over it made it hard to see one end from the other. We saw 4 Egyptian Geese, 9 Pochard and 37 Tufted Duck on the Upper Pond and Treecreeper and Great Spotted Woodpecker in the otherwise very quiet parkland.

Wednesday 05 February. I took Cookie to the Adur at high tide where we saw 5 Grey Plover (my highest count there for several years), 9 Redshank and a Mediterranean and 300 Common Gulls. We then went up to Beeding Quarry to catch the late afternoon sun in the hope a Little Owl might be doing the same. None were, making it my third failure in over a year. With Little Owls seemingly in decline I fear they may not be there any more. A Buzzard was hardly any compensation. The Adur Mediterranean Gull was the adult seen there on 01 February with a metal ring above its knee. One of the Common Gulls was Norwegian J1Z5, with a miraculously clean ring.

Common Gull J1Z5, nice not to have mud covering part of the ring as has been the case each time I've seen it previously (15 March 2018 and 01 and 04 February 2020)
J1Z5 was ringed as a second year south of Oslo at Torderød, Moss, Østfold in June 2012. It was also seen at seen Thisted havn, Nordjylland, Denmark in September 2015, Sundbrygga, Moss, Østfold in August 2016, and Jeløy, Moss, Østfold on 04 April 2018 as well as on the Adur.
adult Mediterranean Gull on the Adur, note the metal ring above its right knee
metal ring hardly visible from this angle

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