Monday 29 November 2021

More to see around Shoreham (25-29 November)

Monday 29 NovemberMegan and I took Cookie to Widewater and we walked along to Lancing Beach Green and back. On the lagoon we saw 4 Mute Swans, 4 Teal, the red-head Goosander (found by Matt the previous day) and 5 Little Grebes with 6 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Razorbills and a Red-throated Diver on the sea but nothing obvious moving offshore. A male Stonechat was by the car park. In the afternoon I drove up to Steyning Bowl and walked down towards Steepdown before returning to the Langmead cairn for a raptor watch. After five minutes of scanning I picked up the hoped for ring-tailed Hen Harrier hunting over the east side of Lychpole Bottom but it soon dropped into the game crop and I didn't see it again despite remining in the area until dusk. Also seen during the two hours I was in the area were Stock Dove (just one), Buzzard, 3 Kestrels, Raven, 2 Skylarks, Fieldfare, 25 Pied Wagtails, 15 Linnets and a Corn Bunting.

Goosander on Widewater
it had what appeared to be a thread of weed in its bill

75 minutes later catching a fish
and the thread was gone
soon to be replaced by more weed
Stonechat by Widewater car park

Cissbury sunset 

Sunday 28 November. Megan and I took Cookie up to Mill Hill but we saw very little with 4 Redwings best. While walking back news that Matt Palmer had seen a Velvet Scoter drop onto the sea off Widewater which was slowly drifting east. I dropped Megan and Cookie at home, grabbed my scope and drove over. Matt was still in situ and immediately put me onto the Velvet Scoter. It was very distant and had drifted a fair way east in the time he'd been watching it. It did flap though showing its white secondaries. It was drifting slowly east past a yellow marker buoy and I hurried along the beach fairly confident I wouldn't loose it while getting nearer. This worked twice, the second time I used a shredded black flag as a marker while I continued to Shoreham Beach Green. Even then it was still distant and very hard to pick up without a telescope. Also on the sea, but typically closer in, were 4 Great Crested Grebes, a Razorbill and a Red-throated Diver. I picked Nessa and Chris up on my way home, they'd come down from London to visit for the day, and later we all went for a walk around the Adur. I saw 3 Oystercatchers, 50 Lapwings, 2 Grey Plover, 18 Ringed Plovers, 9 Turnstones, 18 Dunlin and 6 Redshank but very few gulls. 

Saturday 27 November. Cookie and I walked around the Adur finding little shelter from the strong NW wind. It was low tide but my hopes of there being plenty of gulls to look through did not materialise with 38 Great and a single Lesser Black-backed Gull the most notable. Also beside the river I saw a juvenile Brent Goose, 3 Oystercatchers, 88 Lapwings, 2 Grey and 6 Ringed Plover, 20 Turnstones, 5 Redshank, 9 Skylarks and 3 Meadow Pipits. About 35 Teal and 15 Redshank were in the houseboat channel with the Greenshank by the road on the Dog's Trust side. Mid afternoon Megan and I took Cookie along Southwick Canal which provided some shelter and more views of the Long-tailed Duck (when it wasn't underwater).

juvenile Brent Goose on the saltings by the new pumping station
nothing of note amongst the gulls
Greenshank feeding in the houseboat channel immediately north of the A259

rarely have I seen a Greenshank well enough to appreciate its intricate feather edgings
the continuous white edges to the mantle feathers make this bird an adult, presumably the wintering individual from recent years
Long-tailed Duck still on Southwick Canal
mid afternoon and already the light was fading

Friday 26 November. I picked up David Buckingham in Steyning and we went up onto the Downs between Steepdown, Cissbury and Steyning Round Hill for the morning in the hope of seeing the Hen Harrier which has been reported several times recently. No luck in four hours of walking and scanning, the last hour from the car where it was nice to be out of the wind and occasional showers. Cookie was able to relax after some earlier shooting coming with a westerly wind from the direction of Findon. Highlights were 8 Grey and 2 Red-legged Partridges, 80 Stock Doves, 2-3 Red Kites, 4 Buzzards, Peregrine, Raven, 12 Fieldfares, Stonechat, 50 Linnets and 2 Corn Buntings. In hindsight an afternoon visit might have been better?

Thursday 25 November. David Buckingham drove me to West Wittering and we walked out to Ella Nore hoping to see the 2 Velvet Scoter which had been present for a couple of weeks. Despite an extensive search as far round as Rookswood we were unsuccessful although a pair of Gadwall provided momentary hope. A Black-throated Diver in the main channel (with 8 Red-breasted Mergansers and 15 Great Crested Grebesand a flock of at least 300 Golden Plover on the shore before the tide came in were some compensation and 1500 Brent Geese were impressive. We continued on to Church Norton and spent an hour on the seat seeing a red-head Goosander in the harbour mouth, female Merlin on the Tern Island fence and an adult Peregine on a shingle bar. We walked out onto the spit to look at the sea but were distracted by a lot of activity over towards the North Wall with an estimated 1500 Lapwing and 1200 Golden Plover flying around. Maybe the Merlin had disturbed them as the Peregrine was still on the shingle. Towards the end of the spit we eventually saw 12 Great Crested and 7 Slavonian Grebes (2 of the latter close, the rest halfway to Bognor), a Guillemot and in close proximity a Long-tailed Duck and an Eider on a fairly sheltered sea and flushed a Green Woodpecker. Seeing Andrew House we learned where Red Barn Ditch was (a Water Rail had taken to feeding in it). With no Red Barn in sight I'd never have guessed it was the channel from the back of the Sidlesham Ferry Overflow Car Park to the tramway. We called in on our way home and at the far end saw both Kingfisher and Water Rail in fading light along what we renamed the Andrew House Channel. An enjoyable day (despite no photos) and a nice change from repeated visits to sites around Shoreham. 

Wednesday 24 November 2021

Shoreham and a bit beyond for Long-tailed Duck and Snow Bunting (20-24 November)

Wednesday 24 November. Paul saw the Long-tailed Duck in Southwick Canal at dawn and I watched it from 07:45-08:15 during which time I took 200 photographs. It was showing well, down to 20m, in improving light although was submerged for almost as long as it was on the surface. While there a Sparrowhawk flew low over my head and a Peregrine was on the Power Station chimney. After breakfast Megan and I took Cookie to Dacre Gardens from where we walked up the Adur to the footbridge near Beeding Priory and back. We saw a Common Sandpiper and 2 Stonechats but nothing else of note. Back home with news the Snow Bunting was still about I drove to Worthing. After over an hour of failing to find it I was sat in my car about to drive home when nick Bond kindly relayed a message from David Campbell, who I'd just left, that the Snow Bunting had reappeared. I had great views of one of my favourite birds before it vanished between bushes and after a while I left.

Long-tailed Duck on Southwick Canal in early morning light

Common Sandpiper on the Adur just north of the A283

Snow Bunting immediately west of The Waterwise playground, Worthing

Tuesday 23 November. I took Cookie to Widewater, arriving at 08:00. The sea was relatively flat in a light to moderate northerly wind but almost appeared to be smoking with wisps of mist which came and went. I saw a single Brent Goose and Razorbill west, 4 auks east, 6 Little Grebes on the lagoon, 3 Great Crested Grebes on the sea, 4 Kittiwakes and 15 Gannets offshore and a Grey Heron, 5 Meadow Pipits and 8 Goldfinches in. On the way home we called in at the Adur seeing 2 Grey Plovers, 23 Great Black-backed Gulls and 250+ Herring Gulls including locally ringed A6XY (my 15th sighting of this bird since 2010 when it was ringed in Southwick as a rehabilitated 3rd summer). News at dusk that Paul James had found a Long-tailed Duck on Southwick Canal was just too late to act upon and had me hoping it would stay overnight, as did subsequent news of a Snow Bunting on the beach at Worthing.

Monday 22 November. Megan and I took Cookie to the Adur, cross the Old Toll Bridge, down to the Rec and back over the Norfolk Bridge. Little was seen in a cold north wind with 70 Lapwings, Grey Plover, 35 Great Black-backed Gulls and 8 Linnets the most notable sightings.

Sunday 21 November. I was on Mill Hill from 07:50-10:40, being joined by Megan and Cookie for the second part. I recorded 3 Stock Doves, 45 Woodpigeons, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Peregrine, Jay, 6 Fieldfares, 5 Song Thrushes, male Stonechat, 5 Meadow Pipits, Chaffinch, 2 GreenfinchesBullfinch (heard) and 18 Goldfinches.

Stonechat on Mill Hill

Saturday 20 November. I was at Widewater from 07:50-09:20 seeing 5 Little Grebes on the lagoon, 27 Ringed Plover and 29 Dunlin on the beach, 5 Razorbills on the sea and 50 auks and 9 flying west. At least 4 Bottle-nosed Dolphins slowly swam west at 08:45 and while seawatching the Black Redstart appeared on a nearby groyne. I met Megan and Cookie at Harbour Way and we walked our usual circuit west along the Adur and back to the Fort on the boardwalk. The tide was coming in and 23 Turnstones and a Purple Sandpiper were roosting on the wooden jetty with 3 Meadow and 3 Rock Pipits and 9 Greenfinches by the Fort. Walking back by the Sailing Club we saw a Razorbill in the harbour near the Lifeboat Station. On my way home I stopped opposite the houseboats to watch the tide coming in. With the 'help' of a paddleboarder 17 Teal, 26 Lapwings, Curlew, 2 Snipe, 41 Redshank, Greenshank, 5 Grey Herons and 3 Little Egrets were seen on the saltings (the tide alone being not quite high enough to reveal everything there).

Bottle-nosed Dolphins off Widewater

Curlew on the Adur Saltings
Greenshank with Redshank on the Adur Saltings