Wednesday 29 March 2023

Caspian Gull on the River Adur (28 March 2023)

Sunday 26 March. A walk around the Adur with Megan and Cookie produced 16 Great and 15 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 2 Skylarks and 6 Meadow Pipits. Early evening the female Lord Derby's Parakeet flew our of the tree above the Sullington Way bus stop as I walked past with Cookie, I assume the male ring-necked wasn't far away..

Monday 27 March.  I seawatched from Widewater for an hour or so seeing 3 Common Scoter, 5 Oystercatchers, 2 Sandwich Terns and 2 Gannets flying east and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and 2 Great Crested Grebes on the sea. I had a quick look at Shoreham Fort where there was a smart male Wheatear before meeting Megan and Cookie near Mardyke. We walked to Lancing Beach Green and back with Cookie hoping for more Wheatears or a Black Redstart but had to settle for 3 Teal on the lagoon. Late afternoon both the female Lord Derby's and male Ring-necked Parakeets were feeding above the Sullington Way bus stop.

Tuesday 28 March. I seawatched from Widewater for two hours with just about enough passing to keep me awake and a beach hut providing some shelter from the strong, damp SSW wind. Flying east were 36 Brent Geese (plus 2 west), 61 Common Scoter (only closer birds were 100%), 2 Red-breasted Mergansers (and 2 on sea), 11 Black-headed, 2 Mediterranean and 35 Common Gulls and 6 Sandwich Terns (with 21 west). There were also 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, 3 Great Crested Grebes and a Shag on the sea. Leaving for Shoreham Fort at 09:05 I failed to hear a Whatsapp alert about 2 Velvet Scoter that had just flown past Worthing. There were 4 Sandwich Terns in the entrance to Shoreham Harbour and I walked out the the end of the west arm but nothing was passing (I later learnt the Velvet Scoter had been seen at Seaford and from the timing would have gone by Shoreham Harbour as I was arriving. Annoying, but several times in previous springs I have missed Velvet Scoter that had past Worthing and then Seaford while I was watching at Widewater. Most scoter are just too far out at Shoreham to be able to pick out Velvets. Standing on the end of Worthing Pier and looking east to Seaford or Beachy this is not a surprise as Shoreham is the northern most point in the bay. Looking on an Ordnance Survey Map a scoter passing Worthing Pier half a km out and heading directly toward Seaford would be 2.5-3km from the coast at Shoreham. Depressing thought, and why on what looks to be a good day I feel it is worth the effort of going to Seaford to seawatch. Unfortunately I don't always get it right.

The weather wasn't improving but a combination of rough weather and a low tide is often good for gulls on the Adur so I stopped to look opposite the airport on my way home. I was not disappointed with gull seemingly everywhere, roosting on the sandbars and flying around in a constant state of flux. I ended up spending nearly two hours between the railway and the sandbar north of the A27 and only gave up when my optics (and I) were rather wet. During this time I saw at least 500 Herring, 350 Common, 150 Black-headed, 69 Great Black-backed (including one with a Norwegian colour-ring I was unable to read), 9 Mediterranean, 5 Lesser Black-backed, a second-winter Yellow-legged and a first-winter Caspian Gull. The latter was on the sandbar just north of the A27. It wasn't the most striking individual although looked very similar to a first-winter colour-ringed in a German colony that David Buckingham and I had seen on the Adur on 08 January 2022. In the afternoon Megan and I took Cookie to Buckingham Park where I saw Great Spotted Woodpecker and 2 Greenfinches.

first-winter Caspian Gull on the Adur (2x digital zoom)

4x digital zoom but finer pattern on mantle feathers just about apparent
shows the tertial pattern well but the coverts look a bit rough
pure white head and underparts
small head, long thin bill and odd pose showing Anaconda having swallowed a Capybara impression 

snouty head shape although its bill could have been longer and less of an eye-shadow
drooping vent
typical four colour appearance (white, grey, brown and black)
fine hind neck streaking just about visible (with a bit of imagination)

white underwing in flight
paler inner primary panel

a very faded first-summer Common Gull on the Adur
quite striking in flight

colour-ringed Great Black-backed Gull on the Adur, too distant to read with telescope or from images but almost certainly a Norwegian bird
a selection of Mediterranean Gulls on the Adur (two adults and a second-winter)
with a second second-winter
first-winter Mediterranean Gull on the Adur
a different second-winter Mediterranean Gull on the Adur
a different first-winter Mediterranean Gull on the Adur
second-winter and adult Mediterranean Gulls on the Adur
adult and two second-winter Mediterranean Gulls on the Adur

Wednesday 29 March. No sign of the Caspian Gull or much else on the Adur, the only notable sighting being a colour-ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull that was too distant to read.

Lesser Black-backed Gull on the Adur
based on the colour (black) I'd guess it was ringed on the Channel Islands

Tuesday 28 March 2023

Lymington (18-24 March)

Highlights of a week staying in Lymington with Megan and Cookie were the female Surf Scoter on the Solent off Pennington, up to 12 Spoonbills and 28 Avocets on Normandy Marshes, a drake Eider on the Solent off Oxley Marshes, 30+ Mediterranean Gulls and a Marsh Harrier while the most notable birds on a walk in the New Forest (Shattersford/Denny Wood) were 2 Lapwings and a pair of Stonechats

view from Porchester Castle, a convenient stop on our way down

female Surf Scoter off Pennington

The Needles from Hurst Spit
walking out to Hurst Castle

Hurst Castle

Mediterranean Gulls on Normandy Marshes

half of the Spoonbills seen on Normandy Marshes
they didn't do much
equally active Avocets on Oxley Marches

Black-tailed Godwit on Oxley Marshes

drake Eider off Oxley