Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Adur and Arun (19-25 November)

Wednesday 25 November. I took Cookie up to the Lancing Ring car park from where we walked a triangle past Cowbottom Hovel (love that name) to Combe Copse then up past Combe Head to the corner of Steepdown and back along its eastern side. In just under 3 hours I saw 30 species, the more interesting being a melanistic Pheasant, 7 Stock Doves, 2 Buzzards, 4 Kestrels, 320 Carrion Crows, 31 Sky Larks, 2 Redwings, a Song and 2 Mistle Thrushes, 3 Stonechats, 21 Pied Wagtails, 45 Meadow Pipits and 35 Corn Buntings. Mid afternoon I visited the Adur, just after high tide. I saw 110 Lapwings, the partially white-headed Grey Plover, Curlew, 10 Redshank, 25 Great Black-backed, 350+ Herring and a Yellow-legged Gull and a Kingfisher. There were few smaller gulls and none on the usually reliable Cuckoos Corner sandbar, I was too late arriving there, whatever birds had been present having gone off to roost.

Stonechat near Cowbottom Hovel
melanistic Pheasant near Steepdown
Corn Bunting near Steepdown
Robin at Lancing Ring
Great Black-backed Gull JJ859
it was ringed when a chick at Langholmen, Strand, Rogaland, Norway in July 2018 and seen Parc du Marquenterre, Baie de Somme in September 2019

Yellow-legged Gull on the Adur
rather dull legs and bill so perhaps not fully adult

a strikingly bleached and tatty looking Herring Gull on the Adur

another Great Black-backed Gull with a flounder

too large to swallow, stabbing and picking was more successful

Tuesday 24 November. Megan and I took Cookie up to the Beeding Hill car park and walked a circuit down past Golding Barn, on to Windmill Hill and back up the Bostal. We saw 6 Sky Larks, and on the drive back a flock of 12-15 Goldfinches. Disappointing. Later I visited the Adur at low tide seeing 107 Lapwings, 4 Grey Plover, 6 Dunlin and 11 Redshank. Amongst about 600 gulls (270 Commons) were 3 with colour-rings. The two I could read I'd previously seen.

North Thames Herring Gull Y4NT, also seen on the Adur in late October, was ringed as a 2CY at Pitsea, Essex in January 2018
Herring Gull with, at least from where I was, an unreadable (perhaps faded?) ring. Almost certainly a North Thames bird
Dutch Black-headed Gull EH9M near Cuckoos Corner
it was ringed as nestling at Griend, The Netherlands in July 2016, seen there in Spring/early Summer in 2018 and 2019 and on the Adur in mid February and early March 2020

Monday 23 November. I took Cookie up to Mill Hill. On a lovely calm, mild morning I saw 2 Blackcaps, 19 Blackbirds, 15 Song Thrushes, 13 Robins, 3 Wrens, 2 Bullfinches and 4 Goldfinches. My best visit for a while. In the afternoon Megan, Cookie and I walked along the north side of Southwick Canal seeing a Kingfisher and 90 House Sparrows in fading light.

Song Thrush on Mill Hill
one of 15 seen, my best showing there this autumn

Sunday 22 November
. I met David Buckingham at Pulborough at 08:00 and we spent all morning walking around. On the North and South Brooks I saw several hundred Canada, 10 Greylag and 3 Egyptian Geese, 9 Shelduck, 60 Shoveler, 1700 Wigeon, 310 Pintail, 600 Teal, 200 Lapwings, 350 Black-tailed Godwits, 6 Ruff, Little Egret, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Great Spotted Woodpecker, male and female Merlins, Raven, 2 Marsh Tits, Chiffchaff, 11 Long-tailed Tits, 6 Goldcrests, 8 Fieldfares, 8 Redwings, 2 Mistle Thrushes, 3 Stonechats, Nuthatch and 28 Greenfinches. From the Mill viewpoint at Rackham DB eventually picked out the 2 White-fronted Geese from amongst at least 250+ Canada and 50 Greylags. We also saw 5+ Shoveler, 100+ Wigeon, 10 + Pintail, 500+ Teal (I wasn't counting ducks that carefully), 200+ Lapwings, 220 Black-tailed Godwits, Buzzard, Kingfisher
Great Spotted Woodpecker and 3 Stonechats. At the Burgh just before dusk were a Red-legged and 24 Grey Partridges, 5 Red Kites, Buzzard, a distant Short-eared Owl and 3 Ravens. Returning home DB stopped ahead of me, he'd a superb Barn Owl in his headlights. The perfect finish to a very enjoyable day. 
Marsh Tit at Pulborough
the first time I've noticed the pale patch near the base of the bill

female Merlin at Pulborough
the rather strikingly plumaged Ruff at Pulborough
the pale pink legs and bill might suggest it's a partial albino?
Red Kite at the Burgh
Red Kites and Raven at the Burgh

Saturday 21 November
. I seawatched from Widewater from 07:30-09:00 in a moderate to strong SW wind with good visibility and just a few spots of rain. I saw  3 Common Scoter, a close Razorbill, a Red-throated Diver, and 2 Gannets flying east and the 3 Common Scoter, 4 Brent Geese, Red-breasted Merganser, Purple Sandpiper, adult Mediterranean Gull, 5 distant auks and 7 Gannets flying west. It was a decent seawatch by recent Widewater's standard with the Razorbill my first in Sussex this year. A quick look at the Adur opposite the airfield produced a Kingfisher and 49 Great Black-backed Gulls including a Norwegian colour-ringed bird I'd seen before. I met Megan, Nessa and Cookie at Mill Hill but a Kestrel was the best bird seen while there, with a couple of Goldfinches heard. We could see the tide was still low when we finished, so I returned to the Adur and spent another 90 minutes checking the gulls as the tide came in. Amongst over 500 Herring Gulls were 3 with North Thames colour-rings. Checking at home I discovered that one was new for me and my 200th colour-ringed gull on the Adur. The Kingfisher was still present with 98 Lapwings, 3 Grey Plovers, 7 Dunlin, a first-winter Mediterranean Gull and a Grey Wagtail.

Great Black-backed Gull JC383 on the Adur. 
It was ringed as chick at Vestre Landekvistholmen, Mandal, Vest-Agder, Norway 04/07/16, seen Brennevinsmyra, Mandal, Vest-Agder, Norway 09/10/16, Boulogne-sur-Mer "bassin Loubet", Pas-de-Calais, France 18/04/17, Newhaven Harbour beach 7&24/11/17, Adur 04/11/18, Newhaven 25/11/18, Brennevinsmyra, Mandal, Vest-Agder 16/05/19, Adur 13/10/20 

Herring Gull Z5RT on the Adur. Until today it had only been reported in 2016. It was ringed as 2CY at Pitsea, Essex in January, seen at Beddington later that month, there and at Little Marlow GP (Bucks) in March, Rotherhithe in April and on the Adur in December
Herring Gull D5KT on the Adur. My 200th colour-ringed gull on the Adur. It appears to have been ringed as 3CY+ at Pitsea, Essex in November 2014 and was seen in Brighton in April 2015 and Beddington in May and November 2015
Herring Gull G2JT on the Adur
it was ringed as 1CY at Pitsea, Essex in November 2014, seen at Shoreham Harbour in January 2015, Pitsea and Beddingham in October 2015, on the Adur and at Beddingham November 2015, Beddingham in January 2016, Pitsea that February, the Thames Barrier Park in August 2017 and the Adur in December 2019 and January 2020
Herring Gull on the Adur, it appeared to have a white and black colour-ring although my brief views suggested it was a bit of plastic
first-winter Mediterranean Gull on the Adur
Kingfisher on the Adur

Friday 20 November
. I took Cookie to the Adur but realised I'd forgotten her lead. I used the short one that keeps her on the back seat of the car but it wasn't easy carrying a telescope and after a quick look (5 Grey Plovers, 2 Dunlin and very few gulls) decided Cuckoos Corner, where I could let her off the lead, would be easier. We checked the sandbank north of the A27 but there were few gulls present. none were interesting so we walked north up the river. We were about level with New Erringham Farm when a bird scarer went off in the middle of the next field. It might not have disturbed any birds nearby but Cookie was off back to the car and had gone 300m before slowing down to see where I was. We returned, checking the sandbar for gulls again. It was now almost covered and no gulls were present. We saw Sparrowhawk, 8 Sky Larks and 3 Stonechats. I had a damp cycle ride to our dentist in Hove for over an hour of root canal work and was glad I'd taken some lights for the journey home. 

Thursday 19 November. Megan and I walked down the east side of the Adur from the Old Toll Bridge, across the Norfolk Bridge to the Dogs Trust and back up the west side beside the airport. We saw 65 Lapwings, 2 Grey Plover, Sparrowhawk, Kingfisher, 19 Sky Larks, a pair of Stonechats and 6 Meadow Pipits.

Kingfisher by the Dogs Trust creek
male Stonechat opposite the airport

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Staying close to home (12-18 November)

Wednesday 18 NovemberAnother disappointing Widewater seawatch - it was clearer than expected and the southerly wind less strong - although a Shag flying west made it just about worthwhile. A close Common Scoter flew east, only to return a couple of minutes later, and 16 distant Gannets flew west. Two different Kingfishers were seen along the edge of the lagoon with the Mute Swans and their youngster, 6 Teal and 2 Little Grebes on it. Despite the tide still being quite low a Purple Sandpiper was seen well at Shoreham Harbour with 8 Turnstones. No passerines were in evidence although noisy gravel works on the nearby beach might have been the reason for that. On the Adur between the airport and Cuckoos Corner I saw 52 Lapwings, 2 Grey Plover, 2 Dunlin, 18 Redshank, 150+ Common and 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls, 2 Little Egrets, a Kingfisher and 3 Meadow Pipits. One of the Common Gulls near Cuckoos Corner wore a white colour-ring. It was unreadable from the east side of the river and couldn't be found 15 minutes later on the west side. Based on sightings here earlier in the year it seems likely it was either from Estonia or Norway.

the second of two Kingfishers seen at Widewater, 
so far its been an excellent winter for them along the lower Adur
Purple Sandpiper at Shoreham Harbour
easily my best views this winter as it fed on the base of the West Arm

Turnstones and Purple Sandpiper practicing mountaineering

adult Mediterranean Gull on the Adur by Ricardo's, another was by Cuckoos Corner

Tuesday 17 November. Megan and I took Cookie to Lancing Ring and walked around Steepdown in blustery conditions seeing Merlin, 20 Sky Larks, 10+ Redwings, 3 Stonechats, 10 Meadow Pipits, Linnets, 6 Goldfinches, 25 Corn and a Reed Bunting. The Merlin was chasing a small passerine - too distant to identify - high in the sky for several minutes before dropping to the ground.

Monday 16 November. Megan and I took Cookie to Harbour Way and walked west along the Adur crossing to the Boardwalk to back by the Fort. Nothing was evident on the sea, 9 Goldfinches on the beach and the 2 Purple Sandpipers and 24 Turnstones roosting on the wooden jetty.

Sunday 15 November. Another disappointing Widewater seawatch. Between 07:50-09:20 I saw a Brent Goose, Red-breasted Merganser and 3 Gannets east and 16 Gannets west.  A Great Crested Grebe was on the sea and 7 Turnstones on the beach. At high tide at Shoreham Fort 2 Purple Sandpipers were roosting on the wooden jetty but only 4 Turnstones.

Saturday 14 November. I took Cookie up to the car park at Beeding Hill and walked to Thundersbarrow, up to Truleigh Hill and back along Room Bottom. I saw 9 Sky Larks, 120 Fieldfares, a pair of Stonechats, 30 Goldfinches, 3 Corn Buntings and 6 Yellowhammers.

male Stonechat at Beeding Hill
distant view of Beeding Brooks
Fieldfares near Beeding Hill

Friday 13 November
. I visited Widewater, seawatching from 07:20-07:50, Shoreham Fort, Adur Saltings and later River Adur (Airfield to Cuckoos Corner) with Cookie. I saw 2 Common Scoter (E), 11 TealStock Dove, Great Crested Grebe (W), 3 Grey PloverCurlew, 23 Turnstones, 2 Purple Sandpipers (high tide at Fort), 14+ Common Snipe, 72 RedshankGreenshank, 4 Grey Herons, 2 Kingfisher (1 Saltings, 1 Adur), 2 Stonechat (Cuckoos Corner), 15 Linnets and Reed Bunting.

Purple Sandpiper and Turnstone roosting at Shoreham Harbour

Grey Heron with large rat on the Adur Saltings

Kingfisher on the Adur

Thursday 12 November. I visited Widewater, seawatching from 07:20-08:20, Shoreham Fort, Adur Saltings and later Buckingham Park with Megan and Cookie. I saw Brent Goose (W), 3 Common Scoter (E), Pintail (E), Stock Dove, 2 Great Crested Grebes (E), Oystercatcher, Curlew, 27 Turnstones, Purple Sandpiper (high tide at Fort), 24 Redshank, Greenshank, 2 Gannets, 2 Kingfisher (Widewater), Rock Pipit and Reed Bunting.

roosting Purple Sandpiper
Rock Pipit at Shoreham Fort
large Sweet Chestnut in Buckingham Park
its inner Ent trying to get out