Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Knepp, Rackham & Steepdown (20-26 May)

Tuesday 26 May. I spent all morning at Knepp seeing 2 Cuckoos, 4 Stock and 3 Turtle Doves, free-flying/introduced White Storks, Red Kite, 2 Buzzards, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 6 Jays, 4 Chiffchaffs, 2 Blackcap, 4 Garden Warblers, a Lesser and 7 Common Whitethroats and 3 Misle Thrushes. Two Nightingales were the only good birds heard but not seen.
Garden Warbler at Knepp
Turtle Dove at Knepp
one of three seen today
probably one of those seen on earlier visits (13 & 21 May) but it is likely one of the others wasn't
free-flying White Storks at nest
free-flying White Stork on remains of last year's unsuccessful nest (the camera seems to be an addition this season). Not being used (yet?) this year but clearly of interest as two other storks were also flying around it
free-flying White Stork at Knepp
the left hand bird with the 'shot' wing looks very much like that seen on 21st
second free-flying White Stork nest, not as obvious as the first but still easily seen despite keeping to footpaths 
third free-flying White Stork nest, another very obvious one, one chick visible
Monday 25 MayMegan and I took Cookie to Rackham. We walked our usual circuit and were going to go on into Parham Park but it was rather hot in the sun for Cookie so we returned by a slightly different route. Great move as a Tawny Owl flew in to give me a once over (I was pishing, never worked on a Tawny Owl before), landed for a micro second and continued. I could hear a Blackbird alarming so didn't think it had gone far but a couple of walkers appeared ahead of me before I could search for it. It was the first Tawny Owl I'd seen for over two years. Quite a contrast from my youth when I tracked down calling individuals in St. Annes Wells Gardens in Hove. Also seen were 4 Greylag and an Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Buzzard, Red Kite, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Coal Tits and a Blackcap. My ears just about picked out a singing Goldcrest, Firecrest might now be beyond me, but I only saw a shape.
Cookie hiding under my chair, not at all keen on a nearby neighbour jet-washing their car
Sunday 24 MayMegan and I took Cookie to Lancing Ring and Steepdown seeing 11 Sky Larks, 3 Swallows, a Chiffchaff, 4 Whitethroats and 15 Corn Buntings. We also heard a Quail which at the time as it was in a cereal crop I thought best to be very vague about the location of. Someone else had no qualms reporting it from Steepdown so I can come clean.
Corn Bunting at Steepdown
another Corn Bunting at Steepdown

Saturday 23 May. I took Cookie to Cuckoos Corner and we waked up to Dacre Gardens and back. The wind was quite strong keeping birds down and we heard as much as we saw (Cetti's, Chiffchaff, Reed & Sedge Warblers). Just one juvenile Grey Heron and no Little Egrets were seen in the Coombes 'heronry' although the adjoining rookery seemed well populated with about 200 Rooks. 4 Little Egrets were in the valley and I also saw 4 Sky Larks, a male and juvenile Stonechat, 3 Greenfinches and a Corn and 5 Reed Buntings.
Little Egret on the Adur at Cuckoo's Corner
its caught something
Stonechat near Coombes

Friday 22 May. Megan and I took Cookie to Mill Hill. It was expectedly quiet with 4 Swifts, a Peregrine (just visible on Beeding Quarry chimney) and a Jay.
Adonis Blue at Mill Hill

Lancing College, Steepdown and a field of buttercups from Mill Hill
Peregrine on Beeding Quarry chimney
Thursday 21 May. I took Cookie to Knepp where we saw 3 Turtle Doves (one most likely one of the three seen on 13th), 2 Red Kites, 2 Buzzards, 7 free-flying White Storks, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, 7 Jays, Treecreeper, Mistle Thrush and 2 Bullfinches. We also heard Cuckoo and Nightingale. In the evening 2 Swifts flew over our house.
Turtle Dove at Knepp

brilliant that they are hanging on here, but for how much longer
free-flying White Stork at Knepp, give me a Turtle Dove any day
this one looks as if it has experienced a 'Maltese moult'
Wednesday 20 May. A quiet seawatch from Shoreham Beach in a very light NE wind produced 4 Swifts, 4 Sanderling, 5 Sandwich Terns, a Fulmar, 7 Gannets and a Swallow. Five Oystercatchers were on  the Adur on my cycle home

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Green light for Surveys (18-19 May)

Tuesday 19 May. I have participated in the Woodcock Survey since its inception in 2013. A nice forecast suggested this evening would be suitable. Before that Megan and I too Cookie to West Mill. We walked out to the Downslink and came back via the edge of Small Dole. We heard 3 Nghtingales and a Cetti's Warbler and saw a distant vocal Cuckoo, 7 LapwingsRed Kite, 2 Buzzards, 4 Sky Larks, Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, 3 Whitethroats, a male Yellowhammer and 2 male Reed Buntings. My Woodcock Survey is at Lavington, the disadvantage of a sunny evening being nearly blinded a few times on the journey there. I had three Woodcock encounters, twice seeing and hearing a single bird and once just hearing one. They probably all related to the same individual and on the evidence of my first visit the dramatic fall in encounters witnessed in 2018 does to appear to have been reversed. I also saw 2 Egyptian Geese, 3 Nightjars (and 2 more heard), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Coal Tit, Wood Lark, 3 Dartford Warblers (and 2 more heard), 3 Stonechats and a Yellowhammer and heard at least one Cuckoo and a Tawny Owl.
Reed Bunting at West Mill

Wood Lark at Lavington
Stonechat at Lavington
Dartford Warbler at Lavington
Monday 18 May. For several years I have visited TQ0310 as part of the South Downs Farmland Bird Initiative. This square lies between the Burgh and the Arun and a stop on the way produced Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, 7 Lapwings, 2 Sedge, a Reed and a Grasshopper Warbler, 4 Whitethroats and 2 Greenfinches. Cuckoo, Cetti's Warbler and Nightingale were also heard. During my survey I saw a Red-legged and 3 Grey Partridges, 11 Swifts, 3 Stock Doves, a Lapwing, 3 Red Kites, a Buzzard, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Jays, a Raven, 2 Sky Larks, 13 Whitethroats, 22 Blackbirds, 2 Mistle Thrushes, 8 Dunnocks, 8 Linnets and a male Yellowhammer. Best of all were 2 Hobbies seen after the survey finished.
Sedge Warbler
Grasshopper Warbler
Red Kite over TQ0310
with sheep's wool
another Red Kite
Chiffchaff in TQ0310
Sunday 17 May. Megan and I took Cookie to Mill Hill where there were very few birds (distant Cetti's Warbler heard the best) and a few butterflies, most too fast for me to see well.
Adonis Blue on Mill Hill
female Adonis Blue (thanks to Matt and Bob Eade for identifying it)
Dingy Skipper on Mill Hill
Cookie on Mil Hill
Dunnock on Mill Hill
Kestrel on Mill Hill, new central tail feathers barely half grown

a rare sight these days

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Old Lodge (16 May)

Saturday 16 May. I had a very enjoyable morning at Old Lodge where I met JK at 07:15. We social-distanced from a few other birders for five hours. Particularly good to see and have a 2m chat GH, the Myanmar trip we did in January before the world changed seeming a lifetime away now. Birds seen included 3 Cuckoos, 6 Stock Doves, 5 Buzzards, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 2 Jays, 4 Wood Larks, 4 Willow Warblers, Nuthatch, Mistle Thrush, 9 Redstarts, 10 Stonechats, 3 Tree Pipits, 6 Redpolls, a fly-over Crossbill and 2 Siskins.
stunning male Redstart at Old Lodge

nearby female Redstart
another male Redstart at Old Lodge
well camouflaged Wood Lark at Old Lodge
one of my favourite songsers, a bit of a looker too when seen weel

Nuthatch about to disappear at Old Lodge
Friday 15 May. Megan and I took Cookie for a walk behind Southwick Power Station having earlier visited the tip for the first time in over two months. I saw 2 Common Scoter, 4 Turnstone, a Peregrine on the Power Station chimney and a Rock Pipit.

Thursday 14 May. Megan and I took Cookie to Wolstenbury for a walk. Just 3 Sky Larks, a Swallow and 5 Meadow Pipits were seen.
Twayblades at Wolstenbury
emerging Butterfly Orchid at Wolstenbury
Jack and Jill from Wolstenbury

Burgess Hill from Wolstenbury
our Corsican Asphodel is now taller than me