Thursday 23 February 2023

Mostly Shoreham (17-23 February)

Friday 17 February. I took Cookie to Widewater and we walked along the beach to Brooklands and back. We saw 8 Teal at Widewater and although the tide had fallen the Brooklands wader roost still contained 7 Sanderling, 180+ Dunlin and 10+ Ringed Plover. Only the Lord Derby's Parakeet was seen by the roost tree during a brief visit before dusk.

waders roosting on the beach opposite Brooklands
mostly Dunlin with a few Sanderling
and Ringed Plover

Saturday 18 February. Six Greenfinches were in the large tree above my car as we prepared to visit to Mill Hill. Once there we saw Sparrowhawk, Red Kite, 4+ Buzzards and a distant Peregrine but virtually no small birds. Both parakeets were around the roost tree late afternoon.

Sunday 19 February. Megan and I took Cookie to Worthing where we saw 18 close Sanderling on the beach just west of the Lido at high tide. I was cursing only having taken a bridge camera as I was not expecting to see anything. I was cursing even more when I discovered its battery was flat.

Monday 20 February. Megan and I took Cookie to Shoreham Fort and walked to the Adur saltings and back along the boardwalk. There was a single Brent Goose at Harbour Way, 20 Teal, 25 Common Snipe and a Curlew on the saltings and a Purple Sandpiper on our return to the Fort.

Brent Goose at Harbour Way
Purple Sandpiper at Shoreham Fort

Tuesday 21 February. I walked to Buckingham Park with Cookie seeing presumably the singing Coal Tit from earlier in the month, 2 Goldcrests and 15 Goldfinches and distantly hearing the Lord Derby's Parakeet. By the time we were back home I felt it was too late to visit the Adur saltings before the big high tide started pushing the waders off. It was a decision I soon came to regret as a very impressive 200 Common Snipe were seen (my best count being 172 in November 2008).

Wednesday 22 February. Megan and I took Cookie to Arundel and walked around Swanbourne Lake before leaving her in the car for a quick look around Arundel WWT. It was quiet with over 30 mostly adult Mediterranean Gulls and a Goldcrest best. Collection highlights were Scaly-sided Merganser, Spectacled Eider, Harlequin and Long-tailed Duck, all in the Coastal Creek Aviary which was closed so viewing was through fine netting.

Harlequin at Arundel WWT
Scaly-sided Merganser at Arundel WWT

Spectacled Eider at Arundel WWT

Mediterranean Gulls at Arundel WWT

Thursday 23 February. A walk around the Adur with Megan and Cookie on a rising tide produced 2 Shelduck, the white-capped Grey Plover, 49 Turnstones, an adult Mediterranean, 4 Lesser and 47 Great Black-backed Gulls, a Skylark and 4 Meadow Pipits. Later I cycled down to the Norfolk Bridge for the hour before a big high tide (6.5m). Most of the saltings were already covered and with a loose flock of about 130 Common Snipe flying around I wished that I had arrived earlier. Fortunately most/all of the snipe dropped back into the saltings although there was quite a bit of toing and froing as the water level rose, more of the saltings were submerged and more waders exposed. As the tide came in I was busy counting and ended up with 37 Teal, 34 Lapwing, a Curlew, 196 Common Snipe, a Greenshank, 44 Redshank, a Meadow Pipit and 6 Reed Buntings. I hadn't quite matched the 200 Snipe count from earlier in the week but was satisfied with my 196, a personal record.
the white-capped Grey Plover on the Adur for at least its second winter
Common and Mediterranean Gulls on the Adur
Common Snipe, Redshank, Greenshank and Teal on the Adur Saltings
Common Snipe, Redshank and Curlew on the Adur Saltings

Thursday 16 February 2023

Shoreham and the Burgh (04-16 February)

I'm slowly easing back into local birding at one of my least favourite times of year. I always find it difficult after a foreign trip with lots of photos and records to process.

Saturday 04 February. Megan and I took cookie to Harbour Way and walked to the Adur Ferry Bridge (14 Common Snipe shifted along the saltings by the rising tide). Returned by the Boardwalk and Shoreham Fort (Rock Pipit but no Purple Sandpiper).

Sunday 05 February. We walked around the Adur seeing 2 Grey Plover, Curlew, Greenshank and Kingfisher.

discharges into the Adur still seem rather powerful

Monday 06 February. Keen to see the local wintering Purple Sandpiper (in case none return next winter) we visited the east side of Shoreham Harbor on a rising tide hoping one might be feeding on the caissons. If one was we didn't see it and scanning across to the wooden jetty only saw 8 Turnstones. Later we tried Shoreham Fort but had no luck there either (although one had been seen between times). A Stonechat and Rock Pipit were some compensation.

Tuesday 07 February. I took Cookie up to No Man's Land. There was mist in the Adur Valley but we soon climbed out of it although it didn't clear completely and rolled in again as we were on our way back three hours later. The wintering Hen Harrier didn't seem to be around but 3 Red Kites, Buzzard, Raven, 20 Skylarks, Dartford Warbler, 2 Stonechats, 15 Meadow Pipits, 8 Chaffinches, a Brambling, 200 Linnets, 8 Corn and 4 Reed Buntings and 4 Yellowhammers made the visit worthwhile. There were many more small birds than I'm used to on the Downs behind Shoreham, helped by most of the fields being stubble or with game crop strips as opposed to grazing. Late afternoon, while leaving the allotment, both parakeets (female Lord Derby's and male Ring-necked) noisily flew into the roost tree in Middle Road.

mist hanging over No Man's Land

a Brambling briefly appeared by a feeder

Cookie heading into the mist
she wasn't sure about it and soon came back

Wednesday 08 February. Megan and I took Cookie to Mill Hill where we saw 6 Long-tailed Tits, 2 Song Thrushes, a male Stonechat and 2 Greenfinches. Later on a visit to Shoreham Fort the Purple Sandpiper was seen briefly below the wooden jetty before roosting on the end of it as the tide came in.

Stonechat on Mill Hill

Purple Sandpiper at Shoreham Fort

Turnstone at Shoreham Fort
with its shadow

Thursday 09 February. Megan and I took Cookie to Buckingham Park where we saw Great Spotted Woodpecker, Lord Derby's and Ring-necked Parakeets, a singing Coal Tit, Mistle Thrush and 30 Goldfinches. I later visited Mill Hill and saw a Redwing while failing to find a wooly hat I had lost the previous day.

Friday 10 February. A morning visit to Shoreham Fort on the off-chance my hat was there produced 2 Great Crested Grebes on a flat sea and 4 Meadow Pipits but no hat. In the afternoon I drove to Burpham where the 4 adult Bewick's Swans were in the water meadows and 7 Chiffchaffs, 2 Mistle Thrushes and a Grey Wagtail at/by the Water Treatment Works. I walked from Peppering Triangle to the Burgh Dewpond, meeting Nick Bond's Naturetrek group on the way. I saw 5 Grey and 4 Red-legged Partridges, an increasing number of Red Kites and a superb Barn Owl. Starting back at 16:30 I met a lady photographing the Barn Owl who told me she's seen 3 Short-eared Owls in the valley below the Dew Pond earlier in the week. I decided to go back and at 17:00 a Short-eared Owl appeared and sat on a hedge making me very glad I'd met her. While waiting for the owl I realised kite numbers were building up on the far side of the valley and made several counts. Including birds still drifting in from the west as I walked back I got to 52 although that excludes any late arrivals from the east. An excellent finish to a very enjoyable afternoon.

Barn Owl at the Burgh

sun setting over Arundel from the Burgh
sun set from the Burgh

Saturday 11 February. Megan and I took Cookie to Lancing Ring and Steepdown seeing Buzzard, Kestrel, 12 Skylarks, 6 Redwings, male Stonechat, 10 Meadow Pipits, a Goldfinch and 7 Corn Buntings.

Corn Bunting at Steepdown

Sunday 12 February. I took Cookie up to No Man's Land and was disappointed to see that most of the stubble had been cleared. We saw a Red Kite, 2 Ravens, 6 Chaffinches, 13 Goldfinches, 20 Corn and 2 Reed Buntings and 16 Yellowhammers but just 1 Skylark and no Meadow Pipits or Linnets.

Monday 13 February. We walked around the Adur seeing 117 Lapwings, 2 Grey PloverCurlewDunlin, Buzzard and 2 Stonechats.

Stonechat on the airport side of the Adur

Tuesday 14 February. I took Cookie to Dacre Gardens hoping to see a wintering Common Sandpiper. It was misty by the river and didn't clear much in the two hours we walked down to Church Farm and back. Two Stonechats were the best we managed.

Stonechat by the Adur at Dacre Gardens

Wednesday 15 February. We were going for a walk along Worthing seafront but solid traffic on the A259 put us off and we ended up going to Rackham where there was glorious sunshine. We saw 2 Mandarin (on Parham Park Lake, my first there for 6-7 years), 3 Red Kites, 2 Buzzards, 3 Coal Tits and 2 Fieldfare (my first this year). Literally hundreds of Fallow Deer were on Amberley Wildbrooks which were very dry with no wildfowl evident at all.

Thursday 16 February. Megan and I walked to Buckingham Park with Cookie. We saw Great Spotted Woodpecker, 3 Long-tailed Tits, Mistle Thrush and 10 Goldfinches and twice heard the Lord Derby's Parakeet without seeing it. 

Sunday 12 February 2023

Owls in India (12 January-01 February 2023)

For as long as I can remember I've been fascinated by owls and have long felt that if I've seen an owl it has probably been a good day.

A recent Covid-postponed trip to India provided an opportunity for me to see some more and it turned into quite an owl fest with, depending on taxonomy, 14 or 15 species seen of which 11 or 12 were new for me. Thanks to our excellent guide Jijo Mathew it was my best ever trip for owls by a long way. l even managed to photograph them all although some pics are pretty dodgy. I'll blog more details of the trip in due course but in the meantime here are the owls:

Forest Owlet at Tansa, Maharashtra on 13 January. Another had been a lifer the previous day but this image is much better 
Jungle Owlet at Mahuli, Maharashtra on 14 January

Walden's Scops Owl at Chiriya Tapu, Andamans on 15 January. Currently considered part of Oriental Scops Owl although considered by many to be a different species. A lifer for me either way as at this stage I had only heard Oriental Scops.
Hume's Hawk Owl at Chiriya Tapu, Andamans on 15 January (lifer)

Andaman Masked Owl in Port Blair, Andamans on 16 January (lifer)

Andaman Scops Owl at Lowharbarrak on 17 January (lifer)

Andaman Hawk Owl at Chiriya Tapu, Andamans on 19 January (this bird or its mate had been a lifer on 15th but I failed to focus on it before it flew off).

Mottled Owl at Thattekkad, Kerala on 22 January. This species had been a lifer at Tansa on 12 January but wasn't photographable

a more rufous race Jungle Owlet, Kerala at Thattekkad on 23 January.

winking Sri Lanka Bay Owl at Thattekkad, Kerala on 24 January. We had been shown a wetter, less photogenic individual in a different part of the forest on 21 January.

grey morph Oriental Scops Owl at Periyar, Kerala on 25 January (we'd seen an orangy individual in dayling at Thattekkah two day earlier but I was too slow for photos)
Indian Scops Owl at Periyar, Kerala on 26 January

Brown Hawk Owl at Olive Brook, Munnar, Kerala on 28 January

Spot-bellied Eagle Owl at Chinnar Tiger Reserve, Kerala on 29 January (we'd spotlighted one from Birds Murmur Lodge at Thattekkad but it had been on the opposite side of the river so views at Chennar were much improved)

Brown Fish Owl at Chinnar Tiger Reserve, Kerala on 29 January (lifer) 

Spotted Owlet at Jungle Hut, Tamil Nadu on 31 January.

Indian Eagle Owl outside Mysuru, Karnataka on 01 Feburary (lifer, although I'd heard a couple in 1982). Incompetence on my partmeant this was the best image I obtained.