Friday, 17 April 2020

waiting for a skua, any skua ... (Shoreham-by-Sea 14-17 April)

Friday 17 April. I cycled to Shoreham Beach and from there walked along to Widewater where I was pleased to be sheltered for a couple of heavy showers. Flying east I saw 37 Brent Geese, 3 Gadwall, 77 Common Scoter, 2 Red-breased Mergansers, a Grey Plover, 34 Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Dunlin, 12 Mediterranean Gulls, 148 Sandwich, 2 Common and 17 Arctic Terns and 111 Gannets. With a stiff northerly wind more was probably passing too far out for me to pick up although a good proportion of the waders, gulls and particularly terns seen were flying close to the beach which might have offered them some shelter? Still waiting for my first skua and I'm really missing seawatching at Seaford with its Kittiwake soundtrack, another species I've not seen this year. The Mediterranean Gulls were a pair, two pairs, a pair, another pair and two friendly second-summers. A Hobby came in, four Wheatears were on the beach and I caught the back of a Yellow Wagtail flying low over it. At least two of the wheatears looked good for the Greenland race leuccorrhoaI stopped at the Adur on the way home. The Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits seen yesterday were opposite the airfield, this time in the same field of view if one didn't zoom too much.
adult Mediterranean Gulls passing Shoreham Beach
Wheatear on Shoreham Beach
Great Crested Grebe on the sea off Shoreham Beach
Arctic Tern off Shoreham Beach
Gannet off Shoreham Beach, some were coming much closer than usual
presumed Greenland Wheatear at Widewater

not such a bright bird
two rather wet Wheatears at Widewater, both looking good for  leuccorrhoa


both godwits on the Adur in the same field of view is certainly a first for me
Black-tailed to the left and Bar-tailed to the right
Thursday 16 April. I cycled to Shoreham Beach, walked along to Widewater and returned via Shoreham Fort, New Salts Farm, Adur Rec, Cuckoos Corner and the River Adur. It is surprising how much ground one can cover on a bike compared to walking. An enjoyable morning, the highlights being an adult Iceland and 159 Mediterranean Gulls flying east, as were a Brent Goose, 11 Whimbrel, 44 Sandwich Terns and a Swallow. A Wheatear was on the beach at Widewater, 2 Sparrowhawks copulating in the pines on Adur Rec, 2 Reed Buntings at Cuckoos Corner and single Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits on the Adur. I saw the Black-tailed Godwit distantly on the east back of the Adur from the airport side on my way to Cuckoos Corner. Pushing my bike back under the A27 I saw what I expected to be the same bird on the 'island' opposite Ricardos. It was soon apparent that it was a Bar-tailed Godwit and a superb individual at that. It made me wonder if I'd been mistaken earlier but cycling across the Old Toll Bridge and down the east side the Black-tailed Godwit was still there. Probably the first time I've seen both godwits on the Adur at the same time even if one was above and one below the Old toll Bridge. The Iceland Gull was my first adult in Sussex for many years and was quite close to the shore but flew steadily east and so wasn't in view for long. The Meds were brilliant and included two flocks of 20 and one of 21. Virtually all the Mediterranean Gulls were travelling in pairs, or groups of pairs, all but one if two of the adults were paired with second-summers. Migrating in pairs is not something other gulls appear to do regularly. Perhaps doing so has enabled Mediterranean Gulls to spread as quickly as they have?
Wheatear on Shoreham Beach
superb summer Bar-tailed Godwit on the Adur

it found several worms while I was watching it

back to the river to wash off the mud
Black-tailed Godwit on the Adur

Asphodel in our garden
in May 2013 at Col de Sorba in central Corsica Megan and I 'rescued' three Asphodels that had been dug up, presumably by pigs after their tubers. We brought them home and planted them in our garden not sure if they would survive. A few leaves appeared each year but we'd given up on them doing anything more, until now ...
Wednesday 15 April. I walked to Truleigh Hill via New Erringham Farm and returned by way of Southwick Hill. I saw a Red Kite, 4 Buzzards, 19 Sky Larks, 2 Swallows, Willow Warbler, 2 Whitethroats, Wheatear, 2 Meadow Pipits, 4 Greenfinches, 7 Corn Buntings and 2 Yellowhammers. It was the first time I've done this circuit although I'd previously been on all the footpaths used. I'm hoping lockdown won't last too long so I won't feel the need to do it again.
Swallow at New Erringham Farm
Wheatear near New Erringham Farm, this looked a pretty ordinary one to me
lambs on the downs
Meadow Pipit near Truleigh Hill
its mate
Whitethroat on Southwick Hill
female Yellowhammer at Southwick Hill
male Yellowhammer at Southwick Hill, not much further away but much more affected by heat haze
Tuesday 14 April. I saw my first Whitethroat of the year at Mill Hill, also single Swallow, Long-tailed Tit and Chiffchaff and two Blackcaps. Earlier at Shoreham Beach 7 Sandwich Terns, Red-throated Diver, 2 Fulmars, 2 Gannets, a Swallow and 16 Linnets.
displaying Great Crested Grebes on the sea off Shoreham Beach
Chiffchaff at Mill Hill
Linnet at Mill Hill
Chaffinch at Mill Hill

Whitethroat at Mill Hill
my first of the year
Carrion Crow at Mill Hill

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