Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Mediterranean Gulls on the move (19-23 February)

Tuesday 23 February. I seawatched from Widewater from 07:55-09:25. Most birds were flying west and included a flock of 60 Brent Geese, a distant scoter, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, 4 Mediterranean Gulls, 16 Red-throated Divers and a Fulmar. I then met Megan and Cookie at the end of Harbour Way and we walked to the Adur Ferry Bridge, along the boardwalk to the Fort and back past the Sailing Club. 16 Turnstones were feeding on the inner arm and the Black Redstart was again seen in the Sailing Club compound. Around low tide I saw 11 adult Mediterranean Gulls amongst 4-500 Black-headed and Common Gulls between Cuckoos Corner and the A27. One of the Mediterranean Gulls had a Dutch colour-ring while 2 colour-ringed Common Gulls were German and 2 Norwegian, although one of the latter wasn't fully read - the flock being flushed first by a Buzzard and then flying away as a paddle-boarder went by didn't. Seven adult Mediterranean Gulls roosting with mainly Common Gulls by Ricardos were presumed different taking my day's total to 22. Pretty respectable for Shoreham in February, they are starting to move. Near the railway bridge were 2 Grey Plover and nearby 2-3 bait diggers.
what looked like a platform with legs raised on the horizon at Widewater (and a Great Crested Grebe)
Black Redstart still in the Shoreham Sailing Club compound
sitting on a boat in the sunshine rather than skulking beneath one



I'm off
Common Gull A713 at Cuckoos Corner, most likely from Hamburg
Common Gull JJ328 at Cuckoos Corner. It was ringed as an adult in July 2018 at Sandness, SW Norway
another Norwegian colour-ringed Common Gull at Cuckoos Corner, I didn't see this one well enough for a certain reading 
Mediterranean Gull 372J at Cuckoos Corner
a well travelled bird - it was ringed as a chick in June 2017 at Total Antwerpen, Flanders, BELGIUM and seen in September 2018 at Cap Blanc-Nez, Pas-de-Calais FRANCE; April 2019 at Zwin, Knokke-Heist, West-Vlaanderen, Flanders; August 2019 Hameau de Strouanne; Wissant, Pas-de-Calais, FRANCE; September 2019 at Le Portel, Pas-de-Calais, FRANCE; January 2020 Ferrybridge, Dorset; February 2020 Icklesham and March 2020 at Nummer Een, Sluis, Zeeland, NETHERLANDS then Zwin, Knokke-Heist, West-Vlaanderen, Flanders, BELGIUM

Mediterranean Gull on the Adur

another Mediterranean Gull on the Adur
hey gorgeous, wanna go out?
I'm watching you

Monday 22 February. Megan and I took Cookie to Dacre Gardens from where we walked up the Adur to Bramber and back along the Downslink before continuing down to the old cement works. Highlights were 4 adult Mediterranean Gulls amongst about 400 Black-headed and 50 Common Gulls, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Ravens, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Reed Bunting. I also heard 2 Cetti's WarbblersChiffchaff and Goldcrest were my first this year within 5 miles of home moving that total on to 110.

Sunday 21 February. Megan and I took Cookie up to Mill Hill. A mild morning with light southerly wind and our first butterfly sighting, a Brimstone, definitely felt as if spring was on its way. Singing Sky Larks, Robins and Dunnocks though so too. Having said that it was generally quiet with 2 Long-tailed Tits, 16 BlackbirdsSong Thrush, Chaffinch and 2 Goldfinches.

Saturday 20 February. Cookie and I seawatched from Widewater in a moderate SSE wind, the later part with David Buckingham. Offshore I saw 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, 4 Great Crested Grebes, 3 unidentified auks, 9 Red-throated and 2 unidentified Divers and a Gannet. There were also 9 Teal on the lagoon. Rather disappointing, Shoreham Fort was no better (4 Turnstones) neither was the Adur despite it being low tide although DB saw a Mediterranean Gull by Coronation Green. The airport/Ricardos section was very busy with people and had 80 Lapwings, 3 Dunlin, 9 Redshanks and 200 Common and 7 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Friday 19 February. Megan and I took Cookie to Lancing Ring and walked around a windswept Steepdown. We enjoyed lovely views of the rolling Downs and saw Kestrel, 25 Sky Larks, 5 Song Thrushes, 8 Goldfinches, 11 Corn and 33 Reed Buntings. About what we might have expected other than the flock of Reed Buntings which was the largest I'd seen for many years.

Corn Bunting at Steepdown

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Shoreham (11-18 February)

Thursday 18 February. I took Cookie to Widewater where we dodged showers, as best we could in a moderate southerly wind, in the end trance to a beach hut. Little was moving or evident on the sea although a few birds were disappearing into troughs. I saw 7 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Razorbills, 3 Guillemots, 4 unidentified auks, 8 Red-throated Divers and 4 unidentified, a Gannet and an unidentified thrush. A smart male Red-breasted Merganser was on the lagoon and while watching it 3 Brent Geese flew over. As the rain intensified we returned to the car. It stopped soon after we returned home but by then I'd had enough.
Red-breasted Merganser at Widewater

two of the three Brent Geese at Widewater

Wednesday 17 February. I went to the Adur walking up to Cuckoos Corner and back via the railway bridge. I saw 121 Lapwing, Grey Plover, 13 Dunlin, 5 Redshank, an adult Mediterranean and 11 Lesser Black-backed GullsLittle Egret, Buzzard, 2 Sky Larks, 2 Meadow Pipits and 2 Reed Buntings.
Mediterranean Gull on the Adur

Tuesday 16 February. Megan and I took Cookie to Brooklands where we heard a Cetti's Warbler and saw 9 Teal, male Pochard, female/juvenile Tufted Duck, 2 Little Grebes and 6 Great Tits.

Monday 15 February. Megan and I took Cookie to Harbour Way, walked back to the Adur Ferry Bridge and along the boardwalk to Shoreham Fort. As the tide wasn't quite halfway in we returned along the beach to the sailing club where, somewhat to my surprise, the Black Redstart was still present. Otherwise the walk had ben disappointing with 34 Teal, 3 Turnstones, 10 Dunlin and a distant diver.
Turnstone on the west arm of Shoreham Harbour


Black Redstart at Shoreham Sailing Club
I'd not seen (or heard of it) for a couple of weeks so was pleased it was still about
it was a pleasant change to see it sitting on a boat rather than under it

Sunday 14 February. Megan and I took Cookie up to Mill Hill to find some shelter from the biting SE wind. We saw 130 Lapwings in a nearby field, 4 Song Thrushes, 3 Linnets and 13 Goldfinches while a Cetti's Warbler was singing from the lower hedge. A visit to the Adur Saltings for high tide produced just 20 Teal and 8 Redshank. I later learned three kayaks had flushed off all the other birds roosting there.

Saturday 13 February. I had a quick look at the Adur opposite the airport seeing 3 Shelduck, 4 Gadwall, 2 Grey Plover, 50 Dunlin, 6 Redshank, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a Little Egret. I didn't have time to walk up to Cuckoos Corner as Megan and I had Covid vaccination appointments at out local doctor's surgery. Visits to both ends of Southwick Canal before and after lunch produced the Gannet at the western end and the drake Eider at the eastern end. From there I returned to the Adur to look for the long staying but very elusive, at least for me, Goosander. I walked from the Old Toll Bridge to Cuckoos Corner where it had been seen most recently. As there was no sign of it I continued north along the eastern river bank hoping it was just around the next bend, and the next, all the way to Dacre Gardens. Walking back down the west side I checked my phone on returning to Cuckoos Corner to find it had been seen there while I had been walking north. Typical of my luck with this bird but almost immediately that changed as the Goosander was on the river halfway back to the A27 flyover. It gave reasonable views in fading light before flying south. Also seen on my walk were 17 Teal, 6 Ringed Plover, 23 Dunlin, 12 Redshank, 3 Little Egrets, single Great Spotted Woodpecker and Redwing, 3 Stonechats, 7 Meadow Pipits and 8 Reed Buntings.
Two male Gadwall on the Adur, the other two were females
drake Eider on Southwick Canal
a superb bird when seen well and this was probably my best view ever of a drake in Sussex 








immature Goosander on the Adur at Cuckoos Corner

its been around since early November but ranges along the Adur from the A27 to Streatham Bridge
I was beginning to feel jinxed with this bird, not having seen it since mid November despite looking somewhere along the Adur each week

Friday 12 February. I took Cookie up to the Beeding Hill car park and we walked SE along the Monarch's Way, up to Truleigh Hill and back skirting Room Bottom. I saw 2 Mediterranean Gulls (flying up Room Bottom with Commons), 2 Buzzards (both sat in fields sheltering from the cold wind), 400 Rooks, 7 Fieldfares, Stonechat, 80+ distant Corn Buntings and 35 Yellowhammers.
Yellowhammer near Truleigh Hill
brightens up even the dullest day

Thursday 11 February. Shoreham Fort on a rising tide produced single Oystercatcher and Turnstone while the Adur was a little better with 7 Teal, 12 Ringed Plover, 74 Dunlin, 150 Herring Gulls including North Thames bird G2JT and a Sparrowhawk.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

On the Beach and Down by the River - Shoreham 04-10 February

Rarely does a week go by without my listening to something by Neil Young. This week I've pushed the boat out and am systematically working my way through his CDs, not a short undertaking and I'm barely half way through. So many really great songs, the titles of two of his very best sum up my lockdown - On the Beach and Down by the River

Wednesday 10 February. An early visit to the Adur to look for my lost notebook. It was not on the bench where I'd left it once before (!!) or any of the other benches I'd stopped at. I did see 3 Little Grebes, the Knot and 33 Dunlin but my mind wasn't fully on it. As a last chance I checked where I'd parked the car previously and there it was in the gutter. An hour or so at Widewater was pretty dull with 8 Great Crested Grebes, over 100 auks (none identifiable), 3 Red and a close Black-throated Diver, a Gannet and 63 Cormorants offshore, 6 Mute Swans, 12 Teal and 9 Little Grebes on the lagoon and 21 Ringed Plover and 126 Dunlin on the beach. I then met Megan and Cookie at Mill Hill where we saw 82 Lapwings in a field and 27 flying west, 10 Blackbirds, 3 Redwings, 9 Song Thrushes, 10 Robins, 35 Linnets and 8 Goldfinches.

Tuesday 09 February. Two hours watching off Widewater was interesting if a little disappointing in a bitter NE wind which I was fortunately sheltered from in the entrance to my preferred beach hut. I saw 7 Brent Geese, 38 Shelduck, 3 Shoveler (mff), 2 Gadwall (mf), 51 Wigeon, 37 Teal, 8 Great Crested Grebes, 20 Dunlin, adult Mediterranean Gull, single Guillemot, 67 Razorbills, 720+ unidentified auks, 29 Red-throated and 7 unidentified divers, Fulmar, 55 Gannets and 60 Cormorants. A quick look at Shoreham Fort revealed both Purple Sandpipers with the Greenshank on the Adur Saltings on the falling tide. On a quest to find the long staying Goosander I'd only seen once in November I walked along the Adur from Dacre Gardens north to Bramber, then south towards Cuckoos Corner, running out of time at Applesham where I returned. A Ruff was with a fairly mobile flock of about 200 Lapwings just west of the river near Botolphs, presumably the Cuckoos Corner bird from the previous evening. I also saw the Cement Works Common Sandpiper, 3 Buzzards, 3 Fieldfares, 90 Redwings, 19 Song Thrushes and 16 Meadow Pipits. At low tide I returned to the Adur seeing 2 Little Grebes, just one of yesterday's Knots, a bit strange as they'd seemed inseparable, 52+ Dunlin, 70 Great Black-backed Gulls and 7 Sky Larks. For the second time this year I left my notebook on one of the benches there. I'm getting very forgetful.
Stonechat on the riverbank near Coombes

Stonechat on the riverbank at Dacre Gardens

Common Sandpiper near Dacre Gardens


Great Black-backed Gull J68X. A bird hatched in 2002 and ringed in March 2003 at Mandalselva Skinsnes, Mandal, Vest-Agder, Norway and seen nearby three days later

Monday 08 February. Megan and I took Cookie to Widewater and walked along to Lancing Beach Green and back. It was too cold to hang about and I had to restrict myself to frequent scans of the horizon. I saw a Shelduck, 40 Wigeon, 3 Teal, 16 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Oystercatchers, 202 Dunlin, adult Mediterranean Gull, 85 Razorbills, 500+ auks, 6 Red and a Black-throated Diver and 120 Gannets. Nine Teal, 2 Grey and 16 Ringed Plovers, 2 Knot, 44 Dunlin and 2 colour-ringed Herring Gulls were on the Adur at low tide. I came home at 5pm but should have stayed longer as Ruff and Goosander were seen at Cuckoos Corner.
Dunlin in the roost at Eastern Sands
Knot on the Adur
they seemed inseparable at the time

Sunday 07 February. Seawatching from Widewater produced 2 Greylag Geese, 2 Teal, 6 Kittiwakes, 2 Guillemots, 70 Razorbills, 130 unidentified auks, 19 Red-throated and 2 unidentified divers, 45 Gannets and 90 Cormorants. It was too cold (a NNE wind) and too little was seen (perhaps because it was very clear) to keep my attention beyond an hour. 

Saturday 06 February. It was thick fog at Widewater so I continued to Shoreham Fort where at times it was better. David Buckingham joined me on the beach there and we socially distance seawatched/practiced angling for almost two hours. The highlight was a pair of Tufted Duck on the sea which soon flew west, the first time I can remember being excited to see the species. We also recorded 2 Greylag Geese, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 7 Kittiwakes, 4 Guillemots, 150 Razorbills, 900+ unidentified auks, 81 Red-throated and 3 unidentified Divers and 2 Rock Pipits. Stopping at the Adur on the way home at low tide I saw 4 Grey Plovers, an adult Mediterranean and 800 Common Gulls and a Mistle Thrush
Great Crested Grebes off Shoreham Harbour


Common Gull JE64. It was ringed at Kongsgård, Kristiansand, Vest-Agder, Norway in April 2006 when already at least in its fourth year making it at least 19 now. It was also seen at Dawlish Warren in February 2014

Friday 05 February. Megan and I took Cookie to Brooklands for a change of scenery. The male Pochard, 2 female Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a smart Coal Tit and a decent if somewhat brief view of a Cetti's Warbler were nice but the coast was shrouded in sea mist and attempts to find any Sanderling on the beach were soon curtailed as we couldn't see the sea from halfway down the beach.

Thursday 04 February. 07:45-09:45 at Widewater produced 10 Brent Geese, 2 Shelduck,  41 Kittiwakes, 3700 auks (10% were identified, all Razorbills), 85 Red-throated Divers, Fulmar, 118 Gannets and a Kingfisher on the lagoon. I stopped at the Adur at low tide but it was disappointing with 4 Grey Plover, a North Thames Herring Gull and 9 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. A Curlew and 16 Oystercatchers were seen during a brief look from Coronation Green. 
Red-throated Diver east
an untraced bangled Common Gull that I'd seen on the Adur last February
another odd looking Herring Gull on the Adur
Herring Gull G2JT. A North Thames bird ringed as 1CY at Pitsea in November 2014 and seen at Shoreham Harbour in January 2015, Pitsea and Beddingham that October, the Adur and Beddingham the following month, Beddingham in January 2016, Pitsea in March 2016, the Thames Barrier Park in August 2017 and on the Adur in December 2019, January 2020 and several times since November