Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Another week in Shoreham (13-20 January)

Wednesday 20 January. Another miserable day. Megan and I took Cookie to Harbour Way, walked along the south side of the Adur to the Adur Ferry Bridge and back by the boardwalk, Shoreham Fort and Sailing Club. Despite the low tide few gulls were seen with nothing of any interest amongst them. There were more kite-surfers than birds off-shore with a flock of 13 Brent Geese, 2 unidentified auks and 4 Gannets flying east. A few distant waders from the Ferry Bridge weren't worth closer inspection, nothing at the Fort and 2 Turnstones by the Sailing Club. Maybe not a great day birdwise but NO MORE TRUMP!!!

Tuesday 19 January. I left home at 07:00 and was at New Salts Farm at 07:15. It was very dark and squally but I was able to overlook the Dog's Trust field from the car. At 07:30, with it still being close to pitch black, the Barn Owl appeared in front of me. I quickly exited the car and watched it for 17 minutes as it flew low around the field, often at the back and sometimes briefly behind the brambles, before flying west over the road, presumably to roost. It was good to have such a lovely bird as subject for my repaired camera although even at 07:47 the light was very poor. Flushed with success I headed to Shoreham Fort but there was no sign of the Iceland or Caspian Gull despite looking around the area for a couple of hours. With the gate to the harbour arm open I tried a short seawatch from the end seeing 2 Great Crested Grebes on the sea, 35 unidentified auks and 46 Gannets flying east and 2 Kittiwakes, 55 unidentified auks and 2 Razorbills flying west. Another check through the gulls at Harbour Way failed to produce the goods and a look through at the not very many gulls on the Adur on the way home was no more successful with 2 Grey Plover and 7 Redshank little compensation.

Barn Owl at the Dog's Trust

Monday 18 January. Megan and I took Cookie to Mil Hill. I recorded 23 species but few were notable - a Peregrine on a distant chimney, 16 Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrushes and single Sky Lark, Long-tailed Tit and Greenfinch. Relaxing at home a WhatsApp message that a Barn Owl had been seen hunting by the Dog's Trust at New Salts Farm on previous evenings had me heading there. Unfortunately I didn't hear the ping for the next message, sent just after I'd left home, that there was an Iceland Gull on at the Harbour entrance by Shoreham Fort. It would have taken priority but I failed to look at my phone until I'd been at New Salts Farm for 10-15 minutes, missing a couple of further pings in the process. The Iceland Gull had disappeared, there was a Caspian Gull there. It seemed too late to dash although if I'd been thinking straight I would not have misinterpreted a final message that it was back to mean the Caspian when it was obviously about the Iceland. AAGH, though probably still not enough time as my car was five minutes away. At New Salts Farm I saw my first Sparrowhawk of the year and a Stonechat but the Barn Owl never showed. Disappointing, but being retired there is usually tomorrow ...

distant Peregrine on the old cement factory chimney

Sunday 17 January. The wind had gone around to the NW and it was very clear. Widewater log (08:25-10:05): Oystercatcher 4E, Kittiwake 2W, unidentified auk 225E:980W, Razorbill 6E:13W:9o/sea, Red-throated Diver 5E:13W:4o/s, Gannet 36E:24W, Cormorant 8E:38W and Peregrine off-shore. Also a Kingfisher was at the eastern end of the lagoon. The Peregrine was spotted being harassed by about 15 Herring Gulls and was watched for several minutes trying to shake off the gulls while hunting low over the sea. On three occasions as it presumably attempted to stoop, from quite a low height, onto an auk a resulting splash suggested the auk had escaped underwater. Stopping at the Adur on the way home I saw 2 Grey Plover, 7 Redshank and few gulls.

Saturday 16 January. In a strong SW wind and heavy rain I sheltered as best I could in hut 62 at Widewater seeing just 2 Turnstones on the beach and 4 Gannets west. Harbour way was no better with nothing of note amongst 120 or so Herring Gulls.

Friday 15 January. Megan and I took Cookie to Lancing Ring car park and walked around Steepdown. We saw Red Kite, Kestrel, 11 Sky Larks, a female Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, 5 Goldfinches and 8 Corn and 10 Reed Buntings. Back home in the evening my repaired camera lens had arrived. Great to have it back, as good as new, but after breaking it (a fall of 15 inches onto a carpet) I'm handling it as if it is made of eggshells.

Ash Dieback work at Lancing Ring resembling something on the HS2 route

Red Kite at Steepdown

Corn Bunting at Steepdown

trying out my repaired lens in the garden

Thursday 14 January. Another damp and windy day, Megan and I took Cookie to Brooklands seeing 3 adult Mute Swans (a newly established pair chasing an imposter), the male Pochard, 11 Moorhen, 13 Coot, Great Spotted Woodpecker (heard only) and 8 Goldfinches

Pochard at Brooklands
Mute Swans on Brooklands seeing off an unwelcome visitor

Wednesday 13 January. Megan and I took Cookie to Widewater and we walked along to Lancing Beach Green and back. We saw 2 adult Mute Swans (last year's youngster having been encouraged to leave home), Teal, 8 Little Grebes, 2 Oystercatchers, 57 Ringed Plovers and 113 Dunlin roosting by Eastern Sands, Grey Heron, 3 Little Egrets and a Kingfisher. Megan had to go into town so we stopped at the Adur Rec and while she did so I took Cookie to the Adur saltings viewpoint seeing 49 Teal, the Curlew, 2 Common Snipe, 16 Redshank, the Greenshank and a Reed Bunting.

hut 55 at Widewater
Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank and with a bit of imagination Common Snipe on Adur saltings

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