Saturday 31 December 2022

Increasing apathy and deteriorating weather at Shoreham-by-Sea (25-31 December)

Sunday 25 December. A walk around Shoreham Fort and boardwalk with Megan and Cookie produced a single Purple Sandpiper roosting on the wooden jetty (my first sighting this winter), 3 Mediterranean Gulls in the surf from the west arm, a Sparrowhawk and 3 Greenfinches.

Purple Sandpiper roosting at Shoreham Harbour

second-winter and adult Mediterranean Gulls from Shoreham Harbour (the 3rd bird seen was a first-winter)
the adult had a reasonably complete hood

Monday 26 December. A family outing to the fort and boardwalk but no sign of the Purple Sandpiper although 7 Mediterranean Gulls from the west arm (a full-winter adult, 4 second-winters and 2 first-winters).

first-winter Mediterranean Gull from Shoreham Harbour 
it or another first-winter Mediterranean Gull from Shoreham Harbour

second-winter Mediterranean Gull from Shoreham Harbour
it or another second-winter Mediterranean Gull from Shoreham Harbour

Tuesday 27 December. A family trip to Petworth. No sign of any Goosanders on the northern lake, in fact not much at all with Green Woodpecker and Mistle Thrush best.

Wednesday 28 December. Nothing of note on a wet walk with Megan and Cookie to Buckingham Park.

Thursday 29 December.  Megan and I took Cookie around the Adur seeing a Shelduck, 90 Lapwings, 2 Grey Plover, 3 Dunlin, Kingfisher and Red Kite. While getting ready to go out a Sparrowhawk had flown low over our road scaring the local sparrows, starlings and a few pigeons.

Friday 30 December. Cookie and I tried seawatching from Widewater but conditions were terrible with nowhere to shelter from a strong S wind and driving rain. Seeing 3 Little Grebes seemed an achievement in the circumstances.

Saturday 31 December. Megan and I took Cookie to Brooklands where we saw the immature male Shoveler, a bedraggled Buzzard, 12= Long-tailed Tits, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and 22 Goldfinches


Saturday 24 December 2022

Shoreham-by-Sea (13-24 December 2022)

Tuesday 13 December. I took Cookie to Dacre Gardens and we walked a circuit down the Adur, across to Coombes and back via Botolphs. I saw 22 Lapwings, 5 Golden Plover flying high SE, single Common Snipe, Common and Green Sandpiper and Redshank, Red Kite, 2 Buzzards, 2 Green Woodpeckers, Peregrine, 6 Fieldfares, a Redwing, 8 Song Thrushes, Stonechat, 2 Grey Wagtails, 5 Linnets and 6 Goldfinches. The Golden Plovers and Green Sandpiper were my first locally for some years and with the winter thrushes provided some evidence of a cold weather movement.

Common Sandpiper at Dacre Gardens, just one this time

Grey Wagtail at Dacre Gardens

male Stonechat at Dacre Gardens


Wednesday 14 December. Megan and I took Cookie to Widewater and walked along to Lancing Beach and back. We saw 8 Great Crested Grebes on a flat sea, 22 Lapwings that flew high west along the coast, a Sparrowhawk and one or two male Stonechats. Better than recent visits but not particularly special, that was until almost back at the car I noticed a white bird on the beach. It was a Cattle Egret looking rather out of place. Matt Palmer cycled from Hove for it, by then it had moved but he refound it on Adur Rec.

six empty dumper trucks on their way to Shoreham Fort
confiding male Stonechat at Widewater

male Sparrowhawk on an interesting perch at Widewater
the convoy returning an hour and 20 minutes later
interesting white blob on the beach

a local Cattle Egret, despite the numbers (40+) around Arundel it is still a decent local scarcity
it didn't look overly happy and it was no surprise it moved somewhere more suitable

Thursday 15 December. We collected Nessa from Peckham, Cookie came too. Really glad we don't live in London! Saw a couple of Buzzards along A23/M23 but nothing else remotely worth mentioning.

Friday 16 December. I cycled to the dentist in Hove seeing a pair of Stonechats just east of Hove Lagoon. Six Teal were the only birds of note during an afternoon walk by the Adur.

Saturday 17 December. Another walk by the Adur but only a Grey Plover and Kestrel of note.

Sunday 18 December. A thoroughly unpleasant day. Our solar panels hit an all time low (since their installation in mid February) generating just 0.06 kWh all day.

Monday 19 December. Adur again, this time 14 Teal and 2 Dunlins seen. The lack of gulls is very disappointing. Another very dull day.

Tuesday 20 December. I took Cookie to Shoreham Fort where we saw single Turnstone and Sparrowhawk, 3 Meadow Pipits, 11 Greenfinches and 7 Goldfinches. Later there were 70 Lapwings, my first local Black-tailed Godwit this year, Kingfisher and Kestrel.

Kingfisher on the Adur
Black-tailed Godwit on the Adur
at dusk

Wednesday 21 December. Mill Hill produced a single Kestrel. One of my quietest visits ever.

Thursday 22 December. Just 3 Long-tailed Tits in Buckingham Park. Not a very nice day

Friday 23 December. Watching over the Adur saltings with Cookie for an hour as they were flooded by a good high tide produced 33 Teal, 2 Curlew, at least 132 and probably 166 Common Snipe (my highest count for several years), 37 Redshank, the wintering Greenshank and 7 Reed Buntings. We continued on to Shoreham Fort hoping to see Purple Sandpiper but failed again. A Kingfisher was some consolation but only 2 Greenfinches were seen. We continued to Widewater and walked along to Lancing Sailing Club. The tide was still high and we hoped to see some roosting waders but only found a Ringed Plover with 15 Turnstones on the groynes. 2 Gannets flew west, 5 Little Grebe were on the lagoon and a male Stonechat was by the Widewater car park. Late afternoon with the tide halfway out but no sandbanks visible it was no surprise there were few gulls about. I did see the Kingfisher from a few days ago again, 50 Lapwings and a Grey Wagtail.

Common Snipe flying around Adur Saltings on the flooding tide

too deep for Curlews too

Kingfisher at Shoreham Fort

Saturday 24 December. Megan and I took Cookie to Buckingham Park where we saw 2 Jays, a Goldcrest and 2 Mistle Thrushes. One of my better visits! We came back via the allotment to pick some sprouts and saw a Chiffchaff.


Monday 12 December 2022

Shoreham-by-Sea and Cuckmere gull roost (09-12 December)

Friday 09 December. Cookie and I walked down the Adur from Dacre Gardens to Cookoos Corner and back. We saw 34 Lapwings, 3 Common Snipe, 2 Common Sandpipers, Buzzard, Kingfisher (twice), Peregrine, Jay, 3 Skylarks, 7 Song Thrushes, 4 Stonechats and a Rock and 15 Meadow Pipits.

Kingfisher on the way down the river

presumably the same Kingfisher on the way back
one of the two Common Sandpipers opposite the old cement works

Stonechats by the Adur

Saturday 10 December. Megan, Cookie and I walked around the Adur by the airport seeing 2 Grey Plover, 19 Skylarks, a male Stonechat and a Rock and 7 Meadow Pipits.

Kestrel by the Adur

Stonechat opposite the airfield
Little Egret by the Adur

Sunday 11 December. Megan was going up to London but with a shortage of drivers for the rail replacement bus service from Shoreham to Brighton Cookie and I drove her over. Being part way there we continued on to Seaford Head and South Hill Barn. We walked down to Harry's Bush and Vanguard Way and spent almost 3 hours looking through the roosting gulls. For a while Jon Curson, Nick Pope and Brillo joined us but left as the weather  deteriorated. There were almost 1000 large gulls present, the majority (700+) Great Black-backs. Over 100 Herring Gulls included an obvious argentatus while amongst 100 Lesser Black-backs was an individual colour-ringed in Suffolk. Tucked away in the flock were also at least 3 Yellow-legged and 3 Caspian Gulls (2 first-winters and an adult). Also noted were 400 Wigeon, 2 Common Snipe and a Green Sandpiper.

adult argentatus Herring Gull in the Cuckmere Haven gull roost
Lesser Black-backed Gull APAJ in the Cuckmere Haven gull roost. It was ringed as a chick on Havergate Island, Suffolk in July 2009 and visited Malaga in January 2011, returned to Havergate in July 2012 and was seen at Dungeness on 19 December 2017 and 19 & 21 December 2018 and in the Cuckmere roost on 24 December 2019.

adult Yellow-legged Gull in the Cuckmere Haven gull roost

first view of a potential first-winter Caspian Gull (based on mantle, coverts, tertials and wings)
looking even more promising with its pure white head
head and bill all good too
just don't get distracted by the hooded Lesser Black-back
all too soon the flock spooked
at first it didn't look as if it would join them
it flew after my burst of shots ended and unlike most of the other gulls did not return
an hour and a half later with the gulls further into the field and JC and NP in attendance, my first view of a potential adult Caspian Gull (white head, dark bullet hole eye and extensive white on underside of p10 all encouraging)

before the adult did much a first-winter Caspian Gull appeared in the flock

the adult eventually stood up showing the head and bill I was hoping for

adult Caspian Gull extreme right and a potential first-winter extreme left
fortunately it woke up and appeared to be different to the earlier one
long legs and upright stance looking more like a Maribou Stork!

same bird digiscoped for extra reach after it went back to sleep. By now it was raining persistently making it hard to keep lenses dry so we called it a day.

Monday 12 December. Megan, Cookie and I visited Buckingham Park hoping for a few winter thrushes but only saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker. The Lord Derby's Parakeet was heard on the walk home and seen briefly on the chimney of Tesco Express.