Saturday, 29 August 2020

Curlew Sandpipers and Bonaparte's anniversary (27-29 August)

Saturday 29 August. I took Cookie up to Beeding Hill and we walked over towards Thundersbarrow, up to Truleigh Hill and back on the lower route. I saw 4 Buzzards, a close adult Hobby, 4 Kestrels, Peregrine, 2 Ravens, 150 Swallows, a Lesser and 9 Common Whitethroats, Redstart (badly), 2 Whinchats, 9 Wheatears, 8 Yellow Wagtails and 4 Yellowhammers. I also heard, but failed to see, a calling Crossbill that sounded close.Back home a tweet from Alan Kitson that there was a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper again on the Adur opposite the airport had me grabbing my telescope and I was soon down there to see a dog running amok in the water and small waders flying everywhere. Fortunately they didn't seem to go far and after 5 minutes the dog lost interest. Scanning I saw 59 Ringed PloverKnot, the juvenile Curlew Sandpiper and 22 Dunlin while 20 Turnstones flew under the railway bridge. 
Whinchat on Beeding Hill

another Whinchat nearby

Swallows feeding over Beeding Hill

and resting along the fence line

don't look now but we are being watched

just a man and a dog

Meadow Pipit near Thundersbarrow

Swallow and glider over Truleigh Hill

Bagot Goats on Beeding Hill, part of a working flock of conservation grazers

Bagot Goat giving Cookie the evil eye

juvenile Curlew Sandpiper on the Adur

with Dunlin

Friday 28 August. David Buckingham took me up to Oare where we had an enjoyable day despite a few heavy showers not all of which we dodged. Although I'd seen Curlew Sandpipers at Pagham the previous day the views had not been great and I was keen to see more. We saw at least 8 Curlew Sandpipers amongst the plethora of waders on the lagoon, 2 moulting adults and 8 juveniles. Later along the muddy foreshore we saw a different adult with two juveniles making a total of 9 or 11. I was also keen to see the returning Bonaparte's Gull as it was exactly 43 years since I'd seen my first, swimming around on Saltholme Pool in what was then Cleveland. It was Bank Holiday Weekend and I was in North Norfolk with friends when we decided to drive up overnight. I chose to sleep for what was left of the night stretched out in a bus shelter rather than squashed up in the back of a car. It was a brilliant bird and that gave excellent views. At Oare 43 years later there was no sign of the gull on the mud by the slipway although the tide was high. Few gulls were on the lagoon and we concentrated on the waders before returning to the sea wall. A prolonged search of the mud, now quite extensive, failed to produce the gull so we walked around the reserve. Scanning the lagoon from the east DB picked out the Bonaparte's Gull swimming between and behind some Black-tailed Godwits but it soon flew back towards the slipway. It was still there half an hour later giving good views on the mud - a very smart bird and nice to mark an anniversary from my first. We also saw Turtle Dove, an adult and 2 juvenile Water Rails, 5 or 6 Avocets, 225 Lapwings, 350 Golden and 220 Ringed Plovers, 17 Whimbrel, 800+ Black-tailed Godwits, 4 Knot, 11 Ruff, 200 Dunlin, Snipe, Common Sandpiper, 500+ Redshank, Common Tern, up to 4 Marsh Harriers, a superb adult Hobby, Raven, Sand Martin, 2 very shy juvenile Bearded Tits, a Cetti's and 4 Reed Warblers, 2 Whinchats, 2 Wheatears, 7 Yellow and 30 Pied Wagtails. An enjoyable day and a pleasant change from more familiar sites in Sussex. 

the lagoon at Oare

juvenile Curlew Sandpipers and adult Dunlin at Oare

a moulting adult Curlew Sandpiper

rather tatty male Marsh Harrier over Oare

adult Bonaparte's Gull at Oare

Thursday 27 August
. Disappointed not to see a Curlew Sandpiper on the Adur I decided Pagham was a better bet and arrived at Church Norton soon after 08:00. The tide was still quite high but an increasing amount of mud was visible although three hours of looking from the benches and hide proved unsuccessful. I decided to try from the spit where I eventually found a very distant juvenile Curlew Sandpiper out in the harbour although it soon walked out of sight. Objective achieved but in the most unsatisfactory way. I drove to Halsey's Farm and walked along the North Wall to White's Creek. After some scanning I picked out another juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, a better view but still distant and by now it was raining. Other birds seen at Pagham included 17 Great Crested Grebes, 6 Grey Plover, Whimbrel, 53 Black-tailed Godwits, 4 Knot, Common Sandpiper, 5 Greenshank (including the short-billed individual), 14 Mediterranean Gulls, 4 Sandwich Terns, 23 Cattle Egrets, Kingfisher, 50 Sand Martins, 100+ Swallows, single Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, 11 Blackcaps, 3 Garden Warblers, single Sedge and Reed Warblers in bushes, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, a Whinchat and 11 Wheatears.

Wheatears at the North Wall

the short-billed Greenshank in White's Creek

its short bill doesn't seem to stop it finding food

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Scratching around in the Shoreham area (21-26 August)

Wednesday 26 August. I cycled to Hove for an early dental appointment. It was low tide when I returned home so I packed my scope and cycled down to the Adur. There were small waders feeding on the mud opposite the airport and Coronation Green - Ringed Plover (82 and 16 - annoying to fall just short of 100), Dunlin (9 and 11) and a juvenile Knot at the former. I continued on to Widewater which was very quiet and stopped again along the Adur on the way home. The tide was higher but still not half-way in. The Knot was still present but not as many Ringed Plover or Dunlin were seen and definitely no Curlew Sandpiper. The only other notable species seen was Sandwich Tern - 2 on the way out with them or another 2 on the way back.

Knot with Ringed Plover on the Adur

the well patterned mantle and covert feathers would make this a juvenile

Tuesday 25 August. Megan and I took Cookie to the Adur where we saw 20 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, Black-tailed Godwit, Sanderling, 9 Dunlin and Sandwich Tern. ARK seeing a Curlew Sandpiper on the Adur after our visit had me returning before dusk when the tide had dropped to provide some edge but a juvenile Mediterranean Gull was my only addition for the day but made the return visit worthwhile.

Monday 24 August. I took Cookie to Beeding Hill and we walked to Thundersbarrow and Truleigh Hill where we met David Buckingham. On the way home we briefly called in at Mill Hill although nothing was seen in the bushes. Birds seen by me were Stock Dove, a Swift, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, 3 Kestrels, juvenile Hobby, Raven, 26 Swallows, Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaffs, Blackcap, 11 Whitethroats, Redstart, Whinchat, Stonechat, 16 Wheatears, 2 Corn Buntings and 7 Yellowhammers

Whinchat and Wheatear at Beeding Hill

Wheatear on Beeding Hill

almost as bright as a spring male

juvenile Yellowhammer near Truleigh Hill

Redstart on Truleigh Hill

Sunday 23 August. I took Cookie to Mill Hill where we saw 3 Stock Doves, Sparrowhawk, 4 Buzzards (in the air at once), 2 Kestrels, Peregrine, 3 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, Blackcap and a Lesser and 4 Common Whitethroats.

Peregrine over Mill Hill

Willow Warbler hiding at Mill Hill

Chiffchaff at Mill Hill

Saturday 22 August. A high-tide visit to the Adur was rather misjudged with most of the saltings under water. I saw Whimbrel, 2 Common Sandpipers, a Greenshank and 36 Redshank on the remaining island and 36 Turnstones roosting on boats north of the Norfolk Bridge. A few more of the first three had been seen before I arrived but I'd seen 36 each of Turnstone and Redshank two days before so I might not have missed any of those.

Friday 21 August. I seawatched at Widewater from 06:25-07:55 in strong SW winds. During that time flying west I saw single Common Scoter, Oystercatcher and Fulmar, 78 Gannets and a Balearic Shearwater. The latter was not that far out but soon disappeared into troughs - a process of elimination bird which is never very satisfactory. Calling in at the Adur I saw 32 Ringed Plover, 5 Dunlin and a Yellow-legged Gull which flew down the river.