Saturday 26 March. David Buckingham and I visited Greentrees Farm and walked through to Pond Bay. It was an area David had seen a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in recent years and I'd looked unsuccessfully more than once ten or more years ago, but approaching from a different direction. Needless to say no LSWs today [note to self: think carefully before trying here again]. I did see 2 Stock Doves, 4 Buzzards, 3 Great Spotted and a Green Woodpecker, Jay, 3 Marsh, 2 Coal and lots of Blue and Great Tits, 7 Goldcrests, 4 Nuthatches, 2 Treecreepers, c50 Redwings, Brambling and Redpoll heard and several Siskins. We continued east on a narrow road and unexpectedly came across Brian, Graham and Jon watching from a small pull in. We joined them and in a couple of hours saw at least 3 Goshawks (they ended up on 5), several Buzzards and a Raven. No sign of the parakeets this afternoon but it turns out they were photographed flying over Selsey this morning. I'll miss seeing them locally although they've become a bit erratic recently and I wondered if they might have polished off all the buds on their favoured tree. Bon voyage!
|Goshawk trying hard to look like something else|
|looking a bit more normal, we thought this one was an immature female|
Friday 25 March. A very quiet seawatch at Widewater from 06:00 was quickly terminated at 07:20 with local WhatsApp news of a drake Garganey on the Adur by the Old Toll Bridge. It didn't seem like the sort of place it would stay but I thought it worth a try as the seawatch had only produced 2 Great Crested Grebes, 13 Oystercatchers and 14 Black-headed and 9 adult Mediterranean Gulls. The Garganey had moved on so I went home, collected Cookie and we walked from Dacre Gardens to Botolphs and Coombes and back, seeing a single Buzzard and Chiffchaff. Later I took Cookie to Park Avenue but we failed to see either parakeet.
Thursday 24 March. I seawatched at Widewater from 06:10-08:10, no ARK this time. I saw 9 Brent Geese, 2 Teal, a Common Scoter, single Red-necked and Great Crested Grebes, 2 Oystercatchers, 97 Black-headed, 19 Common and 4 Mediterranean Gulls and an unidentified diver. Most birds were flying east although the Red-necked Grebe was on the sea. It was too distant to see any yellow on its bill but close enough to see the red neck and white face clearly. Very pleasing as I'd not seen one anywhere for over four years. I watched it for 5 minutes or so before being distracted by some passing gulls and couldn't then refind it although Matt Palmer did a couple of hours later. Four Teal were on the lagoon with 2 adult Mute Swans at the eastern end and 2 juveniles west of the causeway. After a quick and unproductive stop at the Adur I met Megan and Cookie at Mill Hill. There we saw Peregrine, 2 Jays, Skylark, 2 Chiffchaffs, 12+ Blackbirds, 9 Dunnocks, singing Chaffinch and Greenfinch and 7 Linnets.
|Chaffinch at Mill Hill|
Wednesday 23 March. I arrived at Widewater at 05:55, only 20 minutes behind ARK this time and having seen the Lord Derby's Parakeet on the way. Passage was a much quieter and up to 09:10 I saw 122 Brent Geese, 2 adult Mute Swans, 8 Common Scoter, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 8 Oystercatchers, 88 Black-headed, 15 Common and 8 Mediterranean Gulls, 7 Sandwich Terns, a winter-plumaged Red-throated Diver and 3 Gannets. Most were heading east. Megan and Cookie joined me and we walked along to Lancing Beach Green hoping for a Wheatear or two but only seeing 3 Mute Swans on the sea, 3 juveniles on the western part of the lagoon and 2 adults . A tea-time walk with Cookie to look for the parakeets was equally unsuccessful.
Tuesday 22 March. Having learned from yesterday, I seawatched at Widewater, arriving at 06:15 to find Alan Kitson had been at hut 32 for half an hour and had already seen 130 Brent Geese. I watched to 09:15 and another 655 Brent Geese went east as well as 51 Pintail, 2 probable Teal, 54 Common Scoter, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 10 Oystercatchers, an early Whimbrel, 2 Kittiwakes, 46 Black-headed, 12 Common and 8 adult Mediterranean Gulls, 4 Sandwich Terns and 4 Gannets. Two Great Crested Grebes drifted west and a Meadow Pipit came in. Most of the birds were fairly distant and bright sunlight didn't help with identification. To that end I saw what I thought were 9 Garganey. At 07:45 a flock of 6 flew W and dropped onto the sea to be immediately lost and not seen again, initially I put them down as probable but at least one looked like a male as it dropped onto the sea. Two Garganey came by with 8 Pintail at 08:10 and finally a probable with 4 Pintail at 08:44 which I learned had been identified as a Garganey at Goring by Nick Bond. Matt Palmer saw 8 Garganey with 8 Pintail at Hove which were most likely my 6 on the sea having joined the later 2 and 8 Pintail. Back home I took Cookie to Southwick Canal where we saw the long staying Long-tailed Duck although it wasn't close. In the afternoon we visited the allotment where both the Ring-necked and Lord Derby's Parakeets flew over calling. I'd not seen them on recent late afternoon walks with Cookie, we were probably going too early?
Monday 21 March. Our garden fence came down in February's Storm Eunice and today it was being replaced. I stayed in to be sure everything was OK, it was so Megan and I took Cookie to the Adur. There was saw 9 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Sparrowhawk, 3 Little Egrets, 3 Skylarks, 4 Meadow Pipits and 2 Linnets. I had been confident that seawatching would be poor, a serious misjudgement with Garganey seen all along the coast. I've yet to work out why one day is better than another with seemingly similar weather. The only way to be sure is to be there.