Magnolia Warbler - Ohio, May 2017

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Saturday, 28 March 2015

Alpine Swift - Crawley 28/3/15

Luckily jammed in on this bird after a very hectic day at work. It was distant for me but great to see and was only my second sighting of an Alpine Swift in Sussex, my first being in 2008.

Although I saw large flocks in South Africa in Janurary, my last sighting in Britain was way back in 2010 on 29th March, the day I also saw a Pallid Swift, so fingers crossed for the same in Sussex. As good as Swifts are, Alpines are by far my favourite.

Alpine Swift in Crawley - photo taken by Mick Davis



Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Scandinavian Rock Pipits - Cuckmere Haven

Over the past three days I have come across at least seven different Scandinavian Rock Pipits of all various plumages, some of which are fairly difficult to distinguish from the bog standard Rock Pipit, which again have been seen daily down the Cuckmere, but in less numbers.

The bird photographed a few days ago was the typical spring-plumaged bird, being pinky on the breast, blue/grey head and mantle with whitish outer tail feathers. The following two days I've failed to find this individual (presuming it's probably moved on), and have now been left with some very unmarked individuals which needed much closer scrutiny of plumage features. 

There is a great piece on Scandinavian Rock Pipits on http://www.manchesterbirding.com/logicalityoflittoralisiddocmanchesterbirding.com.pdf which has been helpful to me on the less distinct birds, as before this year I have only seen the summer-plumaged birds, no doubt having missed these due to lack of knowledge. Basically the two features that are fairly reliable are the supercilium and the outer tail, plus the additions of other features cleaning the rest of the identification up. 

Most birds have been seen along the eastern river bank and the small 'saltmarsh' south of the pub. 

Anyway if your're looking for a good sleeping agent, keep scrolling down. 

 Scandinavian Rock Pipit at Cuckmere Haven - 23/3/15
The typical spring/summer-plumaged individual showing the salmon pink breast and belly, blue/grey head, nape and mantle, white outer-tail feathers and dark malar patch (ruling out Water Pipit). Easy peasy!!

 Scandinavian Rock Pipit at Cuckmere Haven (24/3/15)
This bird above certainly caused me a headache for a bit, but through the bins the greyish head was rather obvious. There also appears to be a slight pinkish wash around the malar patch. The supercilium is extensive and flares behind the eye, the outer tail feather is white/pale grey, wingbars certainly evident, white throat contrasting with the breast/belly. Close inspection of the scapulars does reveal an amount of grey being concolourous with the head and nape.  The lack of any olive tones to the upperparts is also reassuring. Not the most obvious, but enough for an identification.
 Scandinavian Rock Pipit at Cuckmere Haven (25/3/15)
Slightly more advanced bird with plenty of grey on the scapulars, whitish ground colour, flared supercilium behind the eye, two obvious wingbars and the whole of T6 is white.
 presumed Scandinavian Rock Pipit at Cuckmere Haven (25/3/15)
Again another tricky one for me. Close ups reveal grey on the scapulars and also the forecrown. Distinct white to the tips of the medium coverts, and again visible is the whole of T6 being white. It does say that summer Rock Pipits can be paler and but with contrasting black legs and bill. So with the legs being pink, one can only assume that this is another Scandinavian Rock Pipit. 
Scandinavian Rock Pipit at Cuckmere Haven (25/3/15)
A nice flared supercilium behind the eye, clear wingbars, plenty of white in the outer-tail feathers, white throat, paler underparts and a hint of grey in the lower scapulars and nape are all very pro features for a Scandinavian Rock Pipit. This individual actually stood out by being a much paler individual.


Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Seaford Head & Cuckmere Haven 24/3/15

The combination of rain and a light northerly wind dropped a good number of Chiffchaffs on the headland, with some even seen flying in off the sea. Other than this just a handful of other species seen. Most of the headland was covered including the golf course.

A walk down the Cuckmere this afternoon was painful. Very little evidence of any new arrivals, with just the Greenshank lingering, this time on the scrape. Totals are: 

Seaford Head
Chiffchaff - 41
Siskin - 1 N
Blackcap - 1 male (first of the spring)
Wheatear - 1
Black Redstart - 1 fem
Meadow Pipit - 50 N
Fieldfare - 1
White-fronted Goose - 1 still on west side of Cuckmere. 

Cuckmere Haven
Scandinavian Rock Pipit - 3
Greenshank - 1

 the bottom of Hope Gap
Harry's Bush looking very bleak 
Greenshank on the scrape - been present for around six months now




Monday, 23 March 2015

Cuckmere & Splash Point 23/3/15

March continues to be disappointing in terms of migrants combined with cooler temperatures. A certain lack of inspiration this morning but I managed to pick up a couple of bits. Sea watching was surprisingly 'productive' in the NW wind.

This afternoon the disappointment reduced slightly as the sun came out. Another walk down the Cuckmere produced a few things, but when I got home a text from Laurence soon saw me back down Splash Point as Brent Geese were on the move. One of my favourite migrations to witness, and it was brilliant. Many thanks Laurence!!

Lower Cuckmere
Scandinavian Rock Pipit - 1
Mediterranean Gull - 1 s/p
Tufted Duck - 2 on meanders

Splash Point 10.20-11.20
Gannet - 1
Common Scoter - 26
Red-throated Diver - 12
Brent Geese - 77

Cuckmere Haven
Scandinavian Rock Pipit - 3 (all different from this mornings bird)
Snipe - 30 all in scrape
Gadwall - 1 on scrape 
Red-breasted Merganser - 1 redhead flew South 
Greenshank - 1

Brent Geese - 1255 East in 50 minutes at Splash Point. 


Scandinavian Rock Pipit in the Cuckmere
Brent Geese giving it the beans pass Splash Point - magic!!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Splash Point & Cuckmere Haven 18/3/15

After surviving my standby I walked the cliffs above Splash Point up to Hawks Brow and quickly found 5 Wheatears. A short seawatch after also produced a couple of notable species passing east. After this a walk down Cuckmere Haven found a trio of Avocets on the scrape.

Splash Point
Wheatear - 5
Eider - 2 
Avocet - 11 (one flock)

Cuckmere
Avocet - 3
White-fronted Goose - 1
Chiffchaff - 2 new in
Greenshank - 1 long staying individual



 Wheatears on Seaford Head

Avocets in the Cuckmere

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Seaford Head & Upper Cuckmere 17/3/15

A murkier but milder morning (becoming brighter late morning) and early reports of migrants hitting Portland, I was fairly confident that today would produce a couple of new arrivals. The Head produced my first Wheatears of the year and a steady trickle of Meadow Pipits moving north. The highlight was a Redpoll that flew in off.

Totals are:
Wheatear - 2 males
Meadow Pipit - 135 N
Reed Bunting - 1 along cliff edge before departing NW
Redpoll - 1 N
Alba Wagtail - 2 N
Chiffchaff - 8
Stonechat - 3 

An afternoon visit to the floods just north of Charleston Reedbed produced the following:

Garganey - 2 (1 drk)
Ruff - 1
Great Grey Shrike - 1
Pintail - 4

Late news for yesterday - The Richard's Pipit showed nicely at the Ouse Estuary Project, Newhaven.

 male Wheatear on the golf course
 Reed Bunting along the cliff egde
adult Peregrine 
 Garganey on flood just north of Charleston Reedbed (digi-scoped)
Great Grey Shrike again below High and Over (digi-scoped)



Thursday, 12 March 2015

Madrid 12/3/15

A really good morning walking around an area of wasteland and small pine strips on the outskirts of Madrid. By far the highlight were male Serins displaying everywhere. A couple of new Butterflies for me as well. 

Short-toed Treecreeper - 3 showing really well
Crested Lark - 5
Zitting Cisticola - 3
'Continental' Coal Tit - 1
Sardinian Warbler - 2 males
Black Kite - 1 stunning individual
Serin - 30+ (mostly displaying males)
Black Redstart - 2 
Swallow - 3 heading north 
Firecrest - 1

New Butterflies were: 
Provençal Hairstreak - 10
Green Striped White - 4

Also a Hummingbird Hawkmoth. Not bad totals before an afternoon of work. 




Sunday, 8 March 2015

Splash Point & Upper Cuckmere 8/3/15

An ok seawatch this morning in not really ideal conditions but the Brent Geese are starting to get going with several hundred passing east. Late morning the Great Grey Shrike showed reasonably at High and Over.

Splash Point - 7.05-9.05am SW 2/3 - All birds flying East unless stated otherwise.

Brent Geese - 751
Common Scoter - 21
Red-throated Diver - 21
Great Crested Grebe - 3
Gadwall - 2
Mediterranean Gull - 4
Shelduck - 1
Gannet - 3+2W

On the cliff edge above Splash Point I flushed a Red-legged Partridge which was a very good record.


 Great Grey Shrike at High and Over
High and Over




Thursday, 5 March 2015

Seaford Head 5/3/15

An afternoon walk around most of the headland produced as expected very little. The only possible migrant was a Goldcrest that was moving north through Hope Gap. Other than this a flyover Rock Pipit was almost certainly going down to the Cuckmere and a Wren was along the cliff edge. All very exciting I know. Hurry up spring!!


the Seven Sisters
Seafordian idiots