Sunday, 22 January 2017

frozen (18-22 January)

Sunday 22 January. A visit to Shoreham Fort, sunny and little wind but the car said it was -4C and it was easy to believe it. 12 Great Crested Grebe and 41 Razorbills were on the sea with another 10 unidentified auks further out. A nearer bird looked like a Guillemot but dived before I could be sure and I never saw it again. Only 5 Turnstones are around the harbour despite the tide being fairly high still and no passerines at all. The visit was salvaged by 2 Kingfishers on the inner jetty. A late afternoon visit to Beeding Brooks produced 2 Egyptian Geese, Water Rail, 20 Fieldfares, 2 Redwinngs, 4 Yellowhammers, 12 Corn Buntings and the hoped for, but rather distant Barn and Short-eared Owls.

Egyptian Geese flying into the sunset at Beeding Brooks
Barn Owl enjoying the setting sun on Beeding Brooks
Short-eared Owl on Beeding Brooks, one of three seen

Saturday 21 January. Megan and Nessa were visiting Petworth House to see the latest Turner exhibition. I'd seen an earlier one which was enough for me so i dropped them off and took Cookie for a walk in the park. Both Lower Pond and the main lake were frozen, the latter with a little open water around the edge of an island. Birds were few and far between with 2 Egyptian Geese flying over, a pair of Mandarins, 20 Redwings, 4 Mistle Thrushes and a Nuthatch.  Late afternoon I went to Burton Mill Pond. It was also frozen with just one section of the main channel ice free. It held at least 350 Mallard and about 20 each of Pochard and Tufted Duck. A Kingfisher flew across the pond, 30+ Pied Wagtails roosted in the reedbed but disappointingly no Bitterns had appeared by 17:15 when I was the last to leave, the light being too poor to see anything.
Mandarins on Petworth main lake

Friday 20 January. A morning keeping my mum company while my dad was taken too the eye Hospital. Late afternoon I took Cookie up onto the Downs above Shoreham where a Little Owl was sitting out in the sun. 
Little Owl in the sun

18 January 2017.  Cookie and I started at West Rise Marsh where the Long-tailed Duck was playing hard to see, spending twice as long under-water as above it. Walking around the pool and then the meadows and reedbeds to the south produced 2 Water Rails that we flushed into the reedbed, 6 Meadow and at least 2 Water Pipits (1-2 were seen quite well but not heard and two together heard but not seen well) and a Stonechat. We continued on to Seaford Head and, parking by Chyngton Farm, walked down into the Cuckmere to check the gull flock. There were at least 800 Great Black-backs roosting and not very good views of an adult that structurally looked good for Caspian but was perhaps a little pale mantled.  Our last stop was Newhaven Tidemills where we bumped into John King and didn't have to wait long to see the Serin. A walk to the east arm produced two Stonechats but no roosting Purple Sandpipers despite the high tide. 

a slim, long legged adult gull that I was disappointed not to see better
it was a small bird, so presumably a female, although its mantle appeared no darker than the nearby argenteus Herring Gull
it appeared small headed with a dark eye and rather upright. After a few minutes of hardly moving all the gulls flew, most landing again but I could not relocate it
Peregrine in the Cuckmere
one of a pair

Serin at Newhaven

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Waxwings (further inland West Sussex on 15 January)

Sunday 15 January. A miserable forecast so we took cookie for a walk by the Adur. Lowish tide but few gulls and only a Little Grebe, Dunlin and 2 Reed Buntings worth noting. Back home I had settled into some trip preparation when John King phoned to say the East Grinstead Waxwings had reappeared and he was watching them - disappointingly they are not something I get news of on my pager. I left immediately and after a very wet journey up the A23 arrived at the Birches industrial Estate an hour later. They were not down the first road I tried but rounding a corner towards the end of the next a tree full were by the road. Superb. I then realised JK and others were watching them from the relative shelter of a bike stand so I joined them. After almost an hour they flew off east and although they had done similar i decided to head home via Crawley to see if the Rose-coloured Starling's plumage had advanced. After two hours under an umbrella seeing nothing I convinced myself the main plumage difference if I saw the bird would most likely be that it was now very wet so I gave up and left. 
Waxwings on the Birches Industrial Estate, East Grinstead. All 34 are in this image.
it is a very good day if I've seen a Waxwing

two red 'waxy' tips on this one

this one had four red tips, presumably that made it one of the leaders?
three red 'stripes' makes this one a sergeant
superb in flight too, especially when calling
all but one in this shot
all 34 here

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Inland West Sussex (14 January)

Saturday 14 January. I met John King in Lancing at 8am and we headed for Greatham. We had only been watching from the railway bridge for five minutes when the Great Grey Shrike flew in from the east and landed in the top of a distant tree to the south. Less than five minutes, and a few poor digiscoped pics, later it flew strongly SW and was lost to view. we walked a circuit to the sewage works and back across the brooks but did not see it again. Red Kite, Water Rail, Grey Wagtail and distinctive Siberian Chiffchaff (with at least a dozen commons) were reasonable compensation. We continued on to Petworth Park where two very smart drake Goosanders were keeping to the middle of the Lower Pond. Next stop was Lavington where we saw Stonechat and Dartford Warbler before continuing on to West Dean Woods. We walked up to Monkton Farm where John picked out a Brambling on its own in the top of a tree. Very welcome as we had failed to find any amongst Chaffinch flocks totalling about 200 birds. Less welcome was a Hawfinch which flew past and disappeared behind a tree before John could get his bins on it. It would have been a decent view if he had. An enjoyable day although unfortunate about the Hawfinch and we rather ran out of time (not disciplined enough but then it wasn't a bird race).
Great Grey Shrike near the railway line at Greatham
third time lucky for me, although having seen it I'd hoped it would stick around for longer
Goosanders on Lower Pond, Petworth
I had seen one in late December while three had been present on occasion since so seeing two was a bit of a surprise
very nice though
quick scale check
a very smart duck
and one that seems a little more regular in West Sussex in recent winters
Dartford Warbler at Lavington

Red Kite at Monkton Farm
Friday 13 January. A Sparrowhawk and three Buzzards were seen from the car when I took Ruth and Emma up to Gatwick for their flight back to New Zealand.

Thursday 12 January. A visit to Knepp Mill Pond before the heavy rain started. The two Scaup were rather distant although telescope views were reasonable.

Wednesday 11 January.  An early 'dog walking' visit to Shoreham Harbour where 19 Gannets, 2 Kittiwakes and over 60 auks flew west in half an hour. The nearer auks were identified as 34 Razorbills and 4 Guillemots. No Purple Sandpipers in evidence despite a high tide and no passerines at all. I returned home for Megan and we then picked up Ruth and Emma and walked from Devil's Dyke almost to Truleigh Hill and back. Later I returned to Greatham and walked the sewage works/brooks circuit seeing Water Rail, Barn Owl, Cetti's Warbler, 7 Chiffchaffs, 65 Fieldfares and as I was leaving the full moon.
Sunday 8 January. An early 'dog walking' visit to Shoreham Harbour where a Purple Sandpiper was on the west arm and 28 Razorbills on the sea, one in the harbour entrance. Megan and I took cookie up to Mill Hill where I saw a Jay and heard a Bullfinch. In the afternoon the Adur was very quiet, just two Little Grebes, so I continued as planned to Greatham and walked the sewage works/brooks circuit seeing Red Kite, Barn Owl, 15 Chiffchaffs and 5 Fieldfares.
Cookie anxious to find Purple Sandpiper
Razorbill off the west arm of Shoreham Harbour