Monday, 18 April 2022

Shoreham and Old Lodge (12-18 April)

Monday 18 April. Megan, Nessa, Cookie and I went up to Mill Hill where we saw Peregrine, Chiffchaff, Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Linnets, 4 Goldfinches and the male Yellowhammer. Buzzard, Skylark, Cetti's Warbler and Blackcap were heard. Sadly we failed to find Richard Allen's Ring Ouzel although didn't have long to look.

Sunday 17 April. I seawatched from Widewater from 06:25-08:55 seeing 67 Brent Geese, 8 Teal, 72 Common Scoter, 11 Oystercatchers, 5 Whimbrel, 4 Turnstones, 64 Black-headed, 8 Little and 86 Mediterranean Gulls, 97 Sandwich Terns, Guillemot and an unidentified auk and 17 Gannets. Later Megan, Nessa, Cookie and I did our usual circuit from Harbour Way but clockwise rather than our more usual anticlockwise. We saw a Turnstone and 3 Wall Lizards at the Fort and a summer-plumaged Dunlin from the Adur Ferry Bridge. After a family visit to the cinema I took Cookie to Park Avenue to look for the parakeets. Another blank. Despite looking most days I've not seen them since 10 April. Most of the evening was spent packing.

Saturday 16 April. David Buckingham spent the morning at Old Lodge, one of my favourite places in Sussex, at least in early spring. I saw 2 Cuckoos, Red Kite, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, 2 Ravens, 8 Coal Tits, 2 Woodlarks, 5 Willow Warblers, 3 Chiffchaffs, a pair of Dartford Warblers, Whitethroat, Mistle Thrush, 6 Redstarts, 2 Stonechats, 4 Tree Pipits and a Siskin. Another unsuccessful look for the parakeets with Cookie after tea.

male Redstart at Old Lodge

Friday 15 April. I took Cookie to the Beeding Hill car park seeing 2 Jays on the way. We walked along the Monarch's Way, up to Truleigh Hill and back by Room Bottom. I saw Buzzards2 Peregrines, Green Woodpeckers, 2 Ravens, 23 Skylarks with more heard, 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Whitethroats, 7 Wheatears, 9 Meadow Pipits, 5 Chaffinches and 2 Corn Buntings. In the afternoon Megan, Cookie and I walked around Mill Hill seeing BuzzardPeregrine, and Whitethroat.

Wheatears near Truleigh Hill

Thursday 14 April. I had a survey to do near the Burgh but was not expecting to wake to fairly thick mist. It was due to clear and I decided to go ahead, not having many other free times to do it. I was able to delay starting until the mist started to clear and I recorded 31 species, maybe a bit below average. They included 14 Grey and 4 Red-legged Partridges, 3 Red Kites, a flock of 5 Jays, Long-tiled Tit, Chiffchaff, 12 Dunnocks, 16 Chaffinches, 2 Bramblings, 2 Greenfinches, 4 Linnets, 11 Goldfinches, 3 Yellowhammers and a Reed Bunting. The only Lapwing seen, one of the habitat's target species, was outside the survey area. Early evening I took Cookie to West Mill to look for Nightingales. I heard two and had good views of one of them. Also seen were Peregrine, Blackcap, Meadow Pipit and 2 Yellowhammers.

pre-survey Grey Partridge near the Burgh

half-way round and almost clear

Wednesday 13 April. I seawatched from Widewater from 07:00--08:20. Winds were light southerly and little was moving, at least in sight. I recorded 48 Brent Geese, 3 Shelduck, 9 Common Scoter, 4 Red-breasted Mergansers, single Great Crested Grebe and Whimbrel11 Turnstones33 Mediterranean Gulls, 55 Sandwich and 3 Common Terns, a Great Skua (on the sea), 2 Red-throated Divers, 2 Fulmars and just 3 Gannets. Megan and I took Cookie up to Mill Hill where we saw Little Egret, Kestrel, Peregrine, 2 Jays, 21 Magpies (19 in one flock), Skylark, my first House Martin (my first hirundine!), Chiffchaff, Greenfinch and YellowhammerA late afternoon walk with Cookie failed to find the Park Avenue parakeets.

Tuesday 12 April. Another early start for a Seaford seawatch. I arrived at Splash Point at 06:00, just after Matt Eade and just before Brian Cox with Simon Linington joining us on the breakwater soon after and other regulars dropping by later. Another enjoyable seawatch and although not as varied (or manic) as the previous day it had its moments. By 11:30 I had recorded 49 Brent Geese, 11 Shelduck, 18 Shoveler, 10 Teal, a flock of 15 EiderVelvet & 588 Common Scoter, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, 16 WhimbrelLittle, 30 Mediterranean & 15 Common Gulls, 362 Sandwich and 8 'CommicTerns (1 identified as Common and 2 Arctic), a pale morph Pomarine and 14 Arctic Skuas (1 pale morph), 2 Guillemots, 15 unidentified auks, 48 Red-throated, 3 Black-throated and 5 unidentified  Divers, 53 Gannets and a Grey Heron. An unidentified bat came in and briefly landed on the basket support in front of us. The Pomarine Skua was a pale morph bird which appeared to lack a breast band suggesting it was a male? The Eider were with 10 Shoveler and were seen elsewhere along the coast. Alan Kitson timed them passing Widewater at 06:48, we saw them at Seaford at 07:23. Late afternoon I took Cookie to look for the Park Avenue parakeets but we failed to find them.

Eider and Shoveler passing Splash Point, Seaford
Red-throated Divers off Splash Point, Seaford
Velvet Scoter off  Splash Point, Seaford

Pomarine Skua off Splash Point, Seaford
passing the basket
Mediterranean Gulls off Splash Point, Seaford

Monday, 11 April 2022

Seaford seawatch & local Ring Ouzels (11 April)

Monday 11 April. An early start for a very enjoyable seawatch in great company at Splash Point, Seaford. Matt Eade was in position on the breakwater when I arrived and Brian Cox joined us soon after with Simon Linington and Mark Mallalieu on the beach nearby to keep us on our toes. Jon Curson, Nick Pope and Paul Stevens also dropped by. Between 6 and 12 I recorded 42 Shelduck, 3 Garganey, 139 Shoveler, 11 Gadwall, 13 Wigeon, 7 Mallard, 2 Pintail, 101 Teal, 5 Pochard, 630 Common & 29 Velvet Scoter, 8 Red-breasted Mergansers, a summer plumaged Red-necked Grebe, 3 Avocets, Little Ringed Plover, 66 Whimbrel, 4 Sanderling, 3 Dunlin, 13 Mediterranean & 8 Little Gulls, 850 Sandwich (probably an under-estimate), and 39 'Commic' Terns (including 2 close Arctic & 9 Common), 21 Arctic Skuas (4 pale morph), 6 Guillemots, 5 Razorbills, 60+ auks, 8 Red-throated Divers and 130 Gannets. Virtually all were flying east with local Kittiwakes and Fulmars much in evidence and at one stage a summer-plumage Slavonian Grebe on sea. The mixed duck flocks were particularly impressive, if a little challenging at times. After lunch I took Cookie up to Mill Hill to look for the pair of Ring Ouzels seen earlier. Much to my delight (and surprise) they were still present on the lower slopes and bottom hedge. They looked fairly settled although typically were not very approachable. Also on Mill Hill was a Buzzard, 2 Skylarks and 4 Linnets.

Ring Ouzels on Mill Hill

male Ring Ouzel on Mill Hill
female Ring Ouzel on Mill Hill

Sunday 10 April. I seawatched from Widewater from 06:50-08:20 in very calm conditions. Initially only 2 of the 116 wind turbines were moving although later all but 2 were, if rather slowly. Flying east I saw 2 distant geese (Canadas?), 6 Shelduck, 24 Common Scoter, Great Crested Grebe, 7 Oystercatchers, 33 Black-headed, 7 Common and 30 Mediterranean Gulls, 20 Sandwich Terns and 4 Gannets. A Grey Plover and Sandwich Terns flew west. Later Megan and I took Cookie to Mill Hill where 6 Buzzards were in the air at once, although we didn't see the Osprey seen flying NE over Lancing at about the same time. A Willow Warbler was heard as were Skylark, Chiffchaffs and Yellowhammer (my first there this year). A late afternoon walk with Megan and Cookie around Park Avenue produced a Sparrowhawk and both the Ring-necked and Lord Derby's Parakeets.

no longer empty skies over Widewater

Saturday 09 April. Megan and I took Cookie to the Lancing Ring car park and walked too and around Steepdown. We saw 4 adult Mediterranean Gulls flying over to the south, Buzzard, Kestrel, 2 Jays, 14 Skylarks, 2 Chiffchaffs, a male Blackcap (my first of the year), female Stonechat, 3 Meadow Pipits,  10 Linnets and 6 Corn BuntingsA late afternoon walk with Cookie around Park Avenue produced both the Ring-necked and Lord Derby's Parakeets.

Corn Bunting on Steepdown
Kestrel at Steepdown

Friday 08 AprilWith winds forecast to be north-easterly I was hopeful seawatching might be better than of late but the wind was very light (only 33 of the 116 Rampion turbines were moving and those quite slowly). Counting moving turbines was quite novel, usually on very dull seawatches at Widewater I count those that are still (usually 4-6). From 06:40-08:40 I saw just 2 Common Scoter, 5 Great Crested Grebes, 22 Sandwich and my first Commic Tern (a distant bird flying W) and 9 Gannets. Later I took Cookie to the Adur where we saw 2 Canada GeeseLesser and 19 Great Black-backed Gulls, 2 Little Egrets and 2 Greenfinches. An afternoon visit to the Library was enlivened by hearing the Lord Derby's Parakeets while waiting outside with Cookie. It and the Ring-necked Parakeet flew west over the churchyard and saved me looking for them around Park Avenue later.

Thursday 07 April. I seawatched at Widewater from 06:45-08:45 in clear visibility and moderate westerlies. Somewhat similar to yesterday with 66 Common Scoter, 7 Great Crested Grebes, 25 Sandwich TernsGreat Skua (W at 07:47), 3 Red-throated and 2 unidentified Divers, a Fulmars and 6 Gannets. Megan and I then took Cookie to Harbour Way and walked to Emerald Quay and back along the boardwalk to Shoreham Fort. There we saw a Wall Lizard but no birds of note. An early evening walk with Cookie around Park Avenue produced both the Ring-necked and Lord Derby's Parakeets.

Wednesday 06 April. With the wind moving to a moderate/strong westerly I embarked on my first seawatch for almost two weeks. From 06:40-08:10, generally poor visibility, I saw 8 Brent Geese, 51 Common Scoter, a smart male Red-breasted Merganser, 3 Great Crested Grebes, 23 Common Gulls, 30 Sandwich Terns, a distant Great Skua (W at 07:08), Red-throated Diver, 2 Fulmars and 8 Gannets. Best of all a male Wheatear was on a nearby groyne. I stopped at the Adur on the way home seeing 19 Great Black-backed Gulls including 50H. No parakeets this evening when Cookie and I looked round Park Avenue.

newly arrived Wheatear on the rocks at Widewater

Great Black-backed Gull 50H on the Adur. A female hatched at Le Havre in 2010 that has been seen in the Shoreham area at least eleven times since 2015, seven on the Adur by me

Tuesday 05 April. I took advantage of a sunny day to cut the lawns and did a few other household chores ahead of Megan's return from Belgium. Continuing strong northerly winds put me off birding although both the Ring-necked and Lord Derby's Parakeets were seen with Cookie around Park Avenue.

Monday 04 April. With Megan still in Belgium Cookie and I visited the Adur seeing 7 Lesser and 36 Great Black-backed Gulls and a rather wet looking Buzzard. Despite the inclement weather a Skylark was singing over the airfield. Later we heard the Lord Derby's Parakeet from Park Avenue but failed to see it.

Sunday, 3 April 2022

Spring arrives very slowly (27 March-03 April)

Sunday 03 April. I'd signed up to do a square at Lancing Hill for the South Downs Farmland Bird Initiative/Monitoring (mouthful) and thought I'd make my first visit today, although all the area was familiar. We parked by Lancing Pad and set off towards the square where I recorded 2 Red-legged Partridges (are they following me around or have loads been released locally?), 4 Red Kites, 3 Kestrels, 19 Skylarks, 5 Linnets, 2 Corn Buntings and 2 Yellowhammers. We continued along the Downs to Coombes and back along the river seeing both Little Owls, 3 Little Egrets and 2 more Kestrels. Both the female Lord Derby's and male Ring-necked Parakeet were seen together on our early evening dog walk.

Yellowhammer on Lancing Hill

tail-less Red Kite over Lancing Hill
Corn Bunting in Cowbottom

Little Owl near Coombes

it or the other

Saturday 02 April. I took Cookie up to Mill Hill seeing 2 Red-legged Partridges, Stock Dove, Buzzard, Peregrine, Chiffchaff and Greenfinch and hearing Skylark, Cetti's Warbler and Blackcap. My best visit for a while. An early evening circuit around Park Avenue produced just the Lord Derby's Parakeet, very much on its own. Have they fallen out?

Red-legged Partridges below Mill Hill

Friday 01 April. Megan and Josh left early for a 5 day family break in Belgium. I stayed home looking after Cookie and when they'd departed we went to Cuckoos Corner. We walked up the river to Coombes and Dacre Gardens. We saw 2 Red-legged Partridges, 2 Common Sandpipers and 1 probably 2 Little Owls. We walked into town in the afternoon, seeing a Sparrowhawk over the churchyard. We didn't see the parakeets on our way down or back but were probably too early and I didn't feel like trying later.

Little Owl near Coombes
Common Sandpipers near Dacre Gardens

Thursday 31 March. Megan and I took Cookie to Southwick Canal to escape the biting northerly wind. We saw the Long-tailed Duck at some distance and 2 Greenfinches. Later Cookie and I couldn't find the parakeets (not that Cookie was trying very hard).

Wednesday 30 March. I took Cookie to the Adur where 6 Great Black-backed Gulls were the best sighting, perhaps the worst visit I can remember although I'm sure there are others. Later we couldn't find the parakeets.

Tuesday 29 March. I took Cookie to Shoreham Fort (39 Turnstones) and Widewater (male Wheatear). Late afternoon we walked to Park Avenue and saw both the female Lord Derby's and male Ring-necked Parakeet in close attendance including what looked like prospecting a chimney by the allotments.

Oystercatcher at Harbour Way
Wheatear at Widewater

day 28 March. David Buckingham was taking Louise to West Dean College where she was attending a day course and asked if I would like a day's birding in the Chichester area. With the parakeets antics in mind it was the shove I needed to leave the local area (twice in three days). We dropped Louise for her printing course and continued n to West Dean Woods where we walked up to Monkton Farm. We saw a Red-legged Partridge, fly-over Goshawk, 3 Buzzards, 2 Jays, 3 Ravens, 2 Woodlarks, 2 Mistle Thrushes and some distant flighty finches. Most were Goldfinches but at least two were Redpolls and David picked out a Brambling that I didn't quite get onto. No Hawfinches was disappointing but we were not here at the best time. We headed to Ivy Lake hoping the erratic Bonaparte's Gull might be present. It wasn't although it had been reported earlier. We gave it almost two hours but only saw Black-headed Gulls. The pair of Red-crested Pochard provided some compensation. I'd seen two Bonaparte's Gulls since my last RcP, also at Ivy Lake - a borderline acceptable place for such a species! We continued on to Church Norton where we saw the 2 wintering Long-tailed Duck and 5 Red-breasted Mergansers on the sea, 135 Mediterranean Gulls and 18 Sandwich Terns in and around Tern Island and a pair of Garganey and 7 Wigeon on the Severals. The Garganey flew out of one reedy bay and dropped into the next. Not very good views but far better than those seen off Widewater almost a week earlier. We returned to Ivy Lake where the Bonaparte's Gull hadn't been seen while we were away. We saw the Red-crested Pochard again and six Mediterranean Gulls while giving it another 90 minutes before leaving to pick up Louise. In hindsight we would probably have done better to visit Ivy Lake first and West Dean Woods last but it had been a nice day.

Great Crested Grebes on Ivy Lake
Red-crested Pochard on Ivy Lake
Mediterranean Gulls at Church Norton

Sunday 27 March. Megan and I took Cookie to the Beeding Hill car park and walked to Room Bottom. Nice views across the Weald but very few birds and more heard than seen, the best being Raven, Skylark, Chiffchaffs, Meadow Pipit and Goldfinch. Highlight of the day was walking Cookie in the late afternoon. As the local parakeets had been photographed flying over Selsey Bill the previous day I decided to take her up the road and then on the spur of the moment around Southlands Hospital and back down Park Avenue. Half way down Park AvenueI I heard the familiar call of the Lord Derby's Parakeet and there she was with her male Ring-necked Parakeet consort on a roof opposite. I was totally amazed. I'd seen them on 23rd March but not the 24th or 25th although my success rate was teetering on 50%. With them being seen over Selsey on 26th, that in itself pretty amazing, I assumed they'd gone and was rather sad about it. Selsey was clearly not to their liking but to come back, amazing. Rather put my feeling that Chichester was too far to go birding these days, but the parakeets didn't have to contend with Sussex traffic!