Shoebill - Uganda June 2016

Total Pageviews

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Seaford Head 24/8/16

The conditions felt very promising as I arrived on the headland today, and with a small wave of activity in the 'quarry', I was optimistic. Yet again a good selection of common migrants seen, and at long last and about time, a scarcity was found in the form of an Ortolan Bunting, that was first picked up by its very distinctive call as it flew low north and out of sight (details below). Unfortunately no raptors today but overhead were plenty of Swallows heading east, as well as plenty of Yellow Wagtails. A productive morning, and with the autumn still early, here's hoping for a few more goodies before its over.

Ortolan Bunting find: Whilst walking along the western path of Hope Gap with Bob, I heard the very distinctive single-note call of what I believed was an Ortolan Bunting. Picking the bird up straight away confirmed my initial thoughts as it revealed uniform faintly coloured underparts, and more importantly no white in the tail. Unfortunately, Bob managed to get onto the bird quite late on but still managed to see it. The bird called three to four times and carried on in a north-westerly direction towards the dung heap until out of view. This was at 08.45, but in the distance Phillip Wells was walking pretty quickly towards us as he (completely unbeknown to us) had photographed what he thought (and correctly so) was an Ortolan Bunting at the top of Hope Gap, roughly ten minutes beforehand feeding with some Chaffinches. He showed us his very gripping picture (see below) and the rest is history. A great bird to have on the patch, even better to find/co-find and if records are correct, this is the first Ortolan Bunting on Seaford Head since 1961!!

Totals are:

Willow Warbler - 22
Blackcap - 11
Lesser Whitethroat - 10
Reed Warbler - 14
Wheatear - 9
Whitethroat - 85
Whinchat - 6
Tree Pipit - 5
Grey Wagtail - 1
Sedge Warbler - 4
Yellow Wagtail - 80
Chiffchaff - 1
Ortolan Bunting - 1 N at 8.45, originally in Hope Gap at 8.32
Swift - 3
Nightingale - 3
Redstart - 1
Swallow - 200+ E
House Martin - 2 E
Sand Martin - 50 E

This evening down the Cuckmere produced a mass of Yellow Wagtails presumably going to roost. Totals are:

Yellow Wagtail - 170
Whinchat - 2
Wheatear - 7

 Wheatear above Hope Gap
 two Whinchats by South Hill Barn
juv. Ortolan Bunting in Hope Gap - thankfully captured here by Phillip Wells.
The bold streaking on the breast ages this bird as a juvenile.
Clouded Yellow in Hope Gap

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Seaford Head 23/8/16

The first calm day for a short while was bound to produce some new arrivals, and with a fresh SE wind blowing the chance of a continental scarcity was good........but not for us today. A good range of species were seen today with one that possibly got away, when early on a Golden Plover seen in flight calling an obvious double-noted call (with more emphasis on the second syllable) flew across us heading north and quickly out of sight. Initial views revealed slightly paler underwing but with the low sun shining straight onto the underwing this could have over-exposed the colouration. No foot projection was seen but the bird wasn't close, though the call does match a Pacific Golden Plover, but with no other key features noted there's not much point going on really, though it could just have been a dodgy calling European Golden Plover. Of interest, a European Golden Plover was heard calling roughly four hours later by the coastguard cottages.
Probably the highlight of the morning was an Osprey that flew straight out to sea, though a preening Spoonbill was spotted on the scrape from the coastguard cottages, plus a good number of Reed Warblers were about although the goody still awaits.......hopefully!

Totals are:
Golden Plover sp. - 1 north at 6.35am
Willow Warbler - 25
Garden Warbler - 2
Yellow Wagtail - 36
Whitethroat - 45
Wheatear - 4
Tree Pipit - 3
Reed Warbler - 15
Nightingale - 3
Lesser Whitethroat - 5
Blackcap - 20
Redstart - 2
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
Chiffchaff - 2
Swift - 7
Osprey - 1 sth at 9.24am
Hobby - 1 adult
Swallow - 50 E
Sand Martin - 75 E

Spoonbill - 1 on scrape briefly this morning

This afternoon whilst writing this blog post, an Osprey flew NW over my Peacehaven garden, all thanks to the local Gulls for the alert.

 Osprey over Seaford Head - fantastic views
 a skulky Lesser Whitethroat in Hope Gap
 Reed Warbler in Hope Gap - best total of the autumn today with at least 15 birds seen
 Willow Warbler in Hope Gap
Hobby over Hope Gap

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Splash Point 20/8/16

With a strong passage of Balearic Shearwaters in the channel today, it wasn't a surprise I saw a handful late afternoon. All birds appeared very dark in cloudy conditions, and going east they were motoring shearing with the wind. Very little else moving. 

16.30-17.30 Wind SW 6-7
Balearic Shearwater - 4E (3@ 4.42 & 1@ 4.45)

Earlier in Thessaloniki over the terminal were several Pallid Swifts and Yellow-legged Gulls

Friday, 19 August 2016

Splash Point & Cuckmere Haven 19/8/16

After work and realising the wind was southerly I tried my luck on a seawatch but the murky weather put an end to that, so a walk down the Cuckmere that produced no new birds from yesterday other than an eclipse Wigeon on the scrape. 
Another seawatch once the weather had cleared was far more productive with the following seen between 18.20-19.30

Arctic Skua - 5 incl one l/p bird continuously offshore. 
Manx Shearwater - 1 (anticipating a Balearic I was somewhat disappointed)
Common Tern - 50 incl many juvs
Gannet - 47
Sandwich Tern - 7

Harbour Porpoise - 1

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Cuckmere Haven 18/8/16

Quite typically the first morning I work in months coincides with a decent fall of common migrants on Seaford Head, and then to add salt into the wounds, a Great White Egret was on the scrape in the morning only. All very frustrating but I was pleased to get down the Cuckmere this evening seeing the following:

Whinchat - 3
Greenshank - 4
Green Sandpiper - 2
Dunlin - 22
Common Sandpiper - 2

 Whinchat by the scrape
 looking west towards Seaford Head with the scrape in between. Having not known about the GW Egret sighting (no surprise there really) at the time I could enjoy the view.
Foxhole Farm looking typically rare hidden in the valley

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Seaford Head 17/8/16

Much breezier then what I was expecting this morning and there was little change from yesterday in terms of migrants. Four Red-legged Partridge were on the approach road to the barn, and upon arrival a small number of Willow Warblers were moving inland. Finally the first Whinchat of the autumn arrived and by late morning a small easterly flurry of Swallows, Sand Martins and a couple of Swifts were seen. As Portland were reporting small groups of Balearics passing I made an hours visit to Splash Point, first checking out Hawk's Brow where there were some Clouded Yellows, including one of the helice form. A 45 minute seawatch didn't produce the hoped for Balearic, though conditions out to sea looked very promising, and no doubt more time would have a produced one.

Totals are:

Red-legged Partridge - 4
Whitethroat - 35
Wheatear - 6
Willow Warbler - 30
Grey Plover - 1 E
Garden Warbler - 2
Yellow Wagtail - 6 E
Blackcap - 4
Reed Warbler - 4
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 3
Whinchat - 1
Redstart - 1
Corn Bunting - 1
Swift - 3 E
Swallow - 20 E
Sand Martin - 3 E

Splash Point  10.45-11.30 Wind E3:

Sandwich Tern - 3 E
Gannet - 1 E
Common Scoter - 2 drks o/s

 Willow Warbler in Hope Gap
 Reed Warbler at coastguard cottages
 Garden Warbler in Hope Gap
 Swift over South Hill Barn
 Wheatear at Hawks Brow
helice Clouded Yellow at Hawks Brow

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Seaford Head 16/8/16

Another lovely morning and in the car park a few different migrant species were present so I had high hopes, but it wasn't a mega morning though again a good mix of species were seen, and with the odd Melodious and Greenish turning up there is always a chance of finding a goody. An obvious arrival of Whitethroats was apparent today. A good mix of Butterflies today including Clouded Yellows and Silver Spotted Skippers around the Hope Gap area. The first Redstart for a few days was found in the quarry when leaving the car park, spotted by glancing back through the rear window and noticing a small movement. The Cuckmere was filled with people so I gave it a miss.

Totals are:

Wheatear - 4
Tree Pipit - 4 E
Reed Warbler - 2
Willow Warbler - 13
Whitethroat - 40
Yellow Wagtail - 1 E
Snipe - 2 E
Lesser Whitethroat - 6
Garden Warbler - 4
Blackcap - 7
Nightingale - 2
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
Redstart - 1

Clouded Yellow - 3
Silver Spotted Skipper - 1
Brown Argus - 1
Small Tortoiseshell - 5 (a fresh emergence/arrival noted)

Last night I visited Hindleap, Ashdown Forest on the way back from work and luckily found a Nightjar, me thinking that they may have already moved on.

Nightingale in Hope Gap - nice to get a shot that isn't a Willow Warbler. This bird was just sitting out when originally spotted, making a change from the long staying individual at the top of the Gap that has only been seen once in maybe two weeks.