Tuesday, 24 March 2020

seawatching and gulls (21-24 March)

Tuesday 24 March. With restrictions now in place I sacrificed the prospect of a decent seawatch at Seaford and stayed local, visiting Widewater instead. I social-distanced from 06:25-09:25 and wasn't nearer than 75m from any of the few people seen while out. Flying east were 254 Brent Geese, 6 Shoveler, 333 Common Scoter, 4 Red-breasted Mergansers, 3 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Oystercatchers, 54 Black-headed, 4 Little, 7 Mediterranean and 33 Common Gulls, 24 Sandwich Terns, 15 Red-throated and 7 unidentified divers and 2 Gannets. Enjoyable but as expected Matt did a lot better at Seaford. 
Brent Geese passing Widewater

Mediterranean Gulls off Widewater, all seven seen were adults
Little Gull off Widewater
four were seen, two very distant and two, including this one, virtually along the beach as I was about to leave
Mediterranean Gull on the Adur
for the twelfth consecutive day
Monday 23 March. I seawatched from the beach at Widewater from 06:40-09:10. Again it was very clear with a cold wind, now strong rather than moderate but at least from the East. Flying east I saw about 70 Brent Geese, 93 Common Scoter (sadly didn't manage to pick out any Velvets), 3 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Oystercatchers, a Whimbrel, 7 Bar-tailed Godwits, a Sanderling, 38 Black-headed and 17 Common Gulls, 2 Sandwich Terns, 4 divers, a Gannet and a distant Peregrine. Back to the Adur at low tide where a North Thames Herring Gull seen the previous week was present and, eventually, two Mediterranean Gulls kept my run going.
Herring Gull M9XT. A five year old ringed at Pitsea Landfill in Essex and seen on the Thames and at Beddington since.
this adult Mediterranean Gull dropped in when I was beginning to think my run of seeing the species on the Adur on eleven consecutive days was coming to an end
adult and first-summer Mediterranean Gulls on the Adur, not that I could identify the latter from this view
first-summer Mediterranean Gull on the Adur 
Sunday 22 March. An hour seawatching at Widewater from 06:25 was very quiet with two Red-throated Divers and single Fulmar and Gannet seen flying east and two Great Crested Grebes and my first Guillemot of the year on the sea. Not too surprising with a very clear horizon and a cold NE wind. Mill Hill with Megan and Cookie was a slight improvement with a Sparrowhawk and two Buzzards seen as well as Sky Lark and Chiffchaff heard. My low tide visit to the Adur was disappointing with just a single adult Mediterranean Gull seen.

Saturday 21 March. Megan and I took Cookie to Mill Hill. We heard single Sky Lark and Chiffchaff and saw two each of Linnet and Goldfinch, hardly worth the effort although the views and fresh air are always nice. Later a low tide visit to the Adur to check the gulls didn't find that many although 29 Lesser Black-backs were notable and my run of seeing Mediterranean Gulls reached ten consecutive days with a second-summer and a second-winter.

an exotic-looking visitor to our new bird table
second-summer Mediterranean Gull on the Adur

second-winter Mediterranean Gull on the Adur
eye-catching second-summer Herring Gull on the Adur
Friday 20 March (update): Lesser Black-backed Gull 1V0C, seen on the River Adur north of the A27, was ringed as chick on Horse Isle, off Ardrossan, Ayrshire in July 2012 and seen at Meiras, Valdovino on the NW tip of Spain on 27 July 2013, Angeiras, N of Porto, Portugal on 17 August 2013 and Pinto Landfill in Madrid on 25 March 2017.
Lesser Black-backed Gull on the River Adur on 20 March

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