Hooded Grebes - Patagonia - November 2016

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Thursday, 30 April 2015

Seaford Head & Cuckmere Haven 30/4/15

After working for most of the night and not getting home until the early hours, I somehow plucked up the courage to walk some of the Head this morning. The only bird of note was a 'reeling' Grasshopper Warbler in Hope Gap.

On my way to the wood I scanned the scrape and picked out five Spoonbills feeding. With limited time to spare I quickly dashed around to the Cuckmere and walked to the scrape where the birds were showing reasonably. A Common Sandpiper was on the meanders and 15 Whimbrel were also along the river.



 certainly my largest flock of Spoonbills seen in Sussex. All birds had brownish lower mandibles so presumably were 2nd/3rd cal years birds.
 Green Hairstreak in Hope Gap
Whimbrel along the river

Monday, 27 April 2015

Seaford Head 27/4/15

Worked late last night so was up the Head much later than normal. However this meant the area had warmed up by the time I got there. At long last my first Pied Flycatcher of the spring was in Harry's Bush, but the Head was generally quiet other then this.

Totals are:

Pied Flycatcher - 1 fem
Redstart - 1 male
Garden Warbler - 2
Willow Warbler - 1
Red Kite - 1 flew over heading NNE

Painted Lady - 1

Late news for Friday 24th - 5 Lesser Whitethroat in Hope Gap were new arrivals.


 female Pied Flycatcher in Harry's Bush
Red Kite over Seaford Head

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Meare Heath, Somerset 25/4/15

The Ham Wall/Meare Heath complex in Somerset has long been one of my favourite reserves ever since I first visited back in 2009 where a singing Little Bittern was on offer.

Since then I have seen Long-billed Dowitchers here, but today saw an even rarer American Wader turn up........a quite stunning Hudsonian Godwit which was the 3rd British record. 

The bird showed well and also showed all of its defining features. Not only was this a brilliant bird, but the supporting cast of a Great White Egret, singing Wood Warbler, a Wood Sandpiper, Hobbies, displaying Marsh Harriers, a booming Bittern and bird song everywhere made this yet another memorable visit. 


 Hudsonian Godwit in flight showing off its dark underwing and reduced wingbar. The superb dense barring on the belly looked great through the scope. A real cracker!!
The Black-tailed Godwit flock at Meare Heath.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Splash Point 23/4/15

At last a SE breeze and it was noticeable by the number of birds passing East between 2.50 - 7.20pm. 

Totals are: 
Black Tern - 2
Little Tern - 3
Arctic Tern - 50
Commic Tern - 1145
Sandwich Tern - 32
Little Gull - 103
Mediterranean Gull - 6
Arctic Skua - 11 (3 light phase)
Common Scoter - 78
Whimbrel - 49
Bar-tailed Godwit - 173
Gannet - 7
Brent Goose - 50
Red-throated Diver - 2
Mute Swan - 2

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Cuckmere Haven 22/4/15

After seeing some Pallid Swifts in Seville this morning, I was slightly more inspired to yet again walk my usual circuit in the Cuckmere. The obvious highlight was a Spoonbill feeding continuously on the scrape. It did fly up the valley briefly but soon returned. The scrape also held a few Waders. Foxhole was quiet yet again.

Totals are:

Spoonbill - 1 on scrape
Greenshank - 4
Bar-tailed Godwit - 2
Whimbrel - 9
Dunlin - 2
Wheatear - 2



the faint dark tips to the primaries, dark grey legs and lack of crest probably means this bird is a 2nd winter/3rd calender year, but who knows.



Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Cuckmere Haven 21/4/15

A very brief visit to Splash Point produced no movement whatsoever. A bit of a toss up to either go to the Cuckmere or the Head, but with a Hoopoe being seen earlier flying in off the sea and reportedly flying inland, I decided to head down there just in case of a re-find. Alas not to be and there wasn't anything to reward my efforts yet again. 

Totals are:
Greenshank - 1 still on meanders
Dunlin - 2 
Bar-tailed Godwit - 5 on scrape
Wheatear - 3
Common Buzzard - 2

Monday, 20 April 2015

Cuckmere Haven 20/4/15

Still not much happening but after a long day on a plane it right was nice to get out. The highlight were four Bar-tailed Godwits on the scrape. Very thin on passerines around the bushes.

Other totals are as follows:
Bar-tailed Godwit - 4
Greenshank - 1 still on meanders
Dunlin - 2 (one of scrape and one on meanders)
Little Owl - 1 at Foxhole

 Little Egret on the scrape
Bar-tailed Godwits on the scrape




Sunday, 19 April 2015

Belle Tout Wood 19/4/15

A quick visit produced my second ever spring Wryneck in Sussex. It showed reasonably well for this species and was also seen feeding, on what I assume were Ants.


Wryneck at Beachy

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Isles of Scilly 18/4/15

A very hectic day with Jake which included four boat journeys, over 650 miles of driving and if this wasn't enough a cheeky run for the Heron which decided to fly off around the corner just prior to our arrival, though thankfully remained in view from other angles, though trying to watch it whilst trying to catch our breath wasn't ideal.

We then got much closer and we watched the Heron for around an hour where for most of the time it stayed motionless. A superb bird to see and even better I wasn't feeling at all ropey on the Scillionian Crossing despite the appalling NE winds.

Bryher
GREAT BLUE HERON - 1 first winter (2nd for Britain)
Great Northern Diver - 3 including 1 in full breeding plumage

Quite a few close Manx Shearwaters on the Scillionian Crossing close to Lands End, but little else.

 Great Blue Heron on Bryher - the only other record of this species was also from the Scillies from 2007, and amazingly was found by the same observer.
 from one boat to another. After a rough three hour scillionian crossing, we all squeezed into the 'Golden Spray' to Bryher. On the return trip on this same 'vessel', we all got absolutely covered in 'Golden Spray/seawater' as we powered through the choppy channel back to St. Marys.
Bryher: the Big Pool visible in the distance where the GB Heron has been frequenting, but not on our arrival as it flew round to the bay in the top left of the image, leading to a wacky races event.....I won!!
 Great Blue Heron - what a beast
The Garrison on St. Marys - seen some decent birds here with the best being a Black-eared Wheatear back in 2010.






Friday, 17 April 2015

Cuckmere Haven 17/4/15

Slightly more interesting then yesterday with the highlight being my first White Wagtail of the spring on the meanders. I've added a small extension onto my Cuckmere walk, now covering the west facing slope on the 1st 'sister'.

Totals are:
White Wagtail - 1 male
Whimbrel - 4 on meanders
Wheatear - 3
Greenshank - 1 on meanders
Dunlin - 22 still on scrape 
Buzzard - 7 drifted over from Friston

 Whimbrel on the meanders

male White Wagtail on the meanders - I can't believe its taken til mid April to find one of these.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Seaford Head & Cuckmere Haven 16/4/15

My first Breeding Bird Survey for the spring was done this morning and among the resident breeders, there were a fair few migrants. The highlight was a 'reeling' Grasshopper Warbler by the coastguard cottages and at long last my first Red Kite here this spring. It felt at any time something 'bigger' was going to get found, and I made sure I checked every bit of bramble for a Subalpine etc. Maybe tomorrow?

Totals are:
Grasshopper Warbler - 1 (recording below)
Redstart - 1 female by the wood
Willow Warbler - 6
Sedge Warbler - 1 in sub song
Wheatear - 5
Red Kite - 1 drifted over heading west
Whitethroat - 3 (incl. 2 on territory)
Blackcap - 2 (new arrivals)
House Martin - 1 in off at Splash Point
Swallow - 10+ arrived during the morning

A walk down the Cuckmere this evening was boring but did produce:

Dunlin - 24 on scrape
Greenshank - 1 on scrape
Wheatear - 2

Painted Lady - 1

Grasshopper Warbler doing its best to hide from me

'reeling' Gropper - turn the sound up

 Red Kite over
 Chaffinch in Hope Gap
Wheatear above Splash Point



Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Cuckmere Haven 15/4/15

Not as productive as last night but still a few migrants knocking about. The highlight was a male Redstart by Foxhole again, presumably a different individual from last night. No new Waders on the scrape yet, hopefully not too much longer before some variety arrives.

Totals are:
Redstart - 1 male
Wheatear - 4
Dunlin - 13 on scrape
Greenshank - 1 on scrape
Whimbrel - 1
Blackcap - 5 (all males)
Whitethroat - 2 incl. one singing male

Wheatear by the scrape


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Cuckmere Haven 14/4/15

An evening walk produced a decent amount of migrants, especially around Foxhole where Blackcaps were very numerous. However the highlight of the walk was a male Whinchat along the river which as always are brilliant to see in the spring.

Totals are:
Whinchat  - 1 male
Whitethroat - 1
Redstart - 1 male
Willow Warbler - 3
Chiffchaff - 9 including birds feeding in the stretch of reeds by the scrape
Blackcap  - ca.30 all around Foxhole
Whimbrel - 3
Ringed Plover - 1
Dunlin - 11 on the scrape
Wheatear - 6
Greenshank - 1

 male Whinchat - unfortunately a very poor picture of a superb bird
 
Coot - a surprisingly scarce bird in the Lower Cuckmere area


Monday, 13 April 2015

Inverness 13/4/15

Although I missed a decent drop of migrants on the patch this morning, I was delighted to see two Dippers in the city of Inverness this evening.

The male Dipper was in full song and display which was a fantastic site to see, even better they were doing this right in front of me. The first time I've seen this. 

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Titchfield Haven, Hants 11/4/15

After all morning being stuck indoors due to being on standby, it was with great relief that the Greater Yellowlegs reappeared in Hampshire.

I met Jake at 2pm, we picked up Adam and arrived very swiftly where the Greater Yellowlegs was on view straight away. Good views were had before leaving a cramped hide. I was back home by 6pm which must be some kind of record. 

The only downside to the day was betting on four horses each way for the national, and getting zero return........at least I wasn't flying.


Greater Yellowlegs
After having poor views of the Strathbeg individual back in 2012, it was good to finally see one properly. Just a shame it was often resting.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Seaford Head & Splash Point 10/4/15

After two days of looking out to sea and with numerous Hoopoes dotted around the country, I walked the whole of the headland first before sea watching. No Hoopoes but a bit of variety.

Totals are: 
Ring Ouzel - 1 male below Harry's Bush
Wheatear - 4
Willow Warbler - 4
Chiffchaff - 7
Black Redstart - 2
Yellowhammer - 1 flew north and out of sight 
Short-eared Owl - 1
Firecrest - 1 flew up the groyne at Splash Point

I didn't count down Splash but the highlights for me were: 
Slavonian Grebe - 4 s/p on sea
Black-throated Diver - 1
Little Gull - 13
Brent Geese - flocks of 100+ moving through
Arctic Skua - 2

 distant Ring Ouzel - click image to enlarge
 Black Redstart
 Chiffchaff on the golf course - this bird was regularly feeding on the ground which perhaps means it was a new arrival.
 Wheatear at Hawk's Brow
Brents moving past Splash

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Splash Point & Cuckmere Haven 9/4/15

The seawatch wasn't as productive as yesterday however there were still plenty of birds moving.

Afterwards visited the Head quickly which only produced two new Blackcaps. Another seawatch in the afternoon was very unrewarding so I walked the Cuckmere and was delighted to find three stunning Garganey on the scrape. 

Splash Point 6.10-11.10
Brent Geese - 850
Shoveler - 18
Common Scoter - 360
Velvet Scoter - 3
Tufted Duck - 2
Gadwall - 5
Red-breasted Merganser - 33
Mallard - 6
Teal - 10
Sandwich Tern - 140
Common Tern - 7
'Commic Tern' - 6
Dunlin - 8
Whimbrel - 4
Gannet - 3
Red-throated Diver - 9
Diver sp. - 2
Shelduck - 11
Mediterranean Gull - 4
Yellow Wagtail - 1 in off
Tree Pipit - 1 in off
Sand Martin - 2 
Swallow - 3
Great Crested Grebe - 1

Splash Point 3.30-5.30
Little Gull - 5
Sandwich Tern - 42
Brent Geese - 65
Gannet - 3
Common Tern - 6
'Commic' Tern - 2
Mediterranean Gull - 5
Red-throated Diver - 4

Cuckmere Haven
Garganey - 3 (2drks) on scrape and were calling frequently. 
Gadwall - 1
Short-eared Owl - 1 flew north but also perched on fence posts and bushes

 three Garganey on the scrape - a female Teal was associating with this group closely, though I managed to get it out of the image above. 
 Short-eared Owl over the Cuckmere
Barnacle Goose on the scrape

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Seaford Head & Splash Point 8/4/15

At long last a day off and I couldn't have asked for a better start. With no wind a misty conditions I tried Seaford Head where the highlight was a flyover Great White Egret. However migrants were very thin on the ground.

Splash Point produced my best seawatch of the year with great variety which included our first Arctic Skua of the year. 

Seaford Head
Great White Egret - 1 flew high east at 6.28am but then appeared to descend down towards the Cuckmere. Patch Tick
Swallow - 1 in off
Blackcap - 1

Splash Point - 7.20-12.20
Arctic Skua - 1
Common Scoter - 487
Red-breasted Merganser - 18
Wigeon - 1
Teal - 13
Gadwall - 4
Tufted Duck - 5
Shoveler - 3
Black-necked Grebe - 1 flew east then landed on the sea
Brent Geese - 239
Red-throated Diver - 25
Black-throated Diver - 1
Whimbrel - 13
Mediterranean Gull - 15
Sandwich Tern - 152
Common Tern - 3
'Commic' Tern - 1
Shelduck - 2
Gannet - 3
Wheatear - 1 in off
Swallow - 2 in off

Another seawatch this afternoon/evening between 15.15-18.15 produced: 

Little Gull - 42 - about time this species got a move on, these being my first of the spring. This small passage only lasted less than an hour before the wind completely dropped.
Red-breasted Merganser - 10
Brent Geese - 21
Red-throated Diver - 6
Sandwich Tern - 67
Whimbrel - 48
Mediterranean Gull - 12
Teal - 11
Common Scoter - 52
Harbour Porpoise - 1


 Great White Egret over Seaford Head - the light was pretty tragic at 6.30am, but fortunately the top image portrays the sharp 'kink' in the neck and long dagger like bill, which when viewed through the bins was orange/yellow.
 Brent Geese past Splash Point
Common Scoter past Splash Point


Sunday, 5 April 2015

Splash Point 5/4/15

No chance of getting out this morning because of my standby shift, but afterwards I managed a two hour seawatch with Bob in a light SE breeze with the highlight being a Marsh Harrier flying in off. 

Totals between 2.50-4.40 are:

Sandwich Tern - 54
Red-breasted Merganser - 1
Marsh Harrier - 1 1st summer male in off at 3.10pm
Common Scoter - 28
Common Tern - 3
Red-throated Diver - 3
Mediterranean Gull - 9 
Dunlin - 1

Friday, 3 April 2015

Splash Point 3/4/15

Poor visibility but a two hour seawatch this afternoon produced my first two species of Tern this year. Other than that not a great deal.

Totals between 3.15-5.15pm are:

Common Tern - 4
Sandwich Tern - 9
Red-throated Diver - 3
Common Scoter - 33
Gannet - 3
Brent Geese - 6
Mediterranean Gull - 1

This morning at Milan Airport were a few Hooded Crows.

 always good to see the first Sandwich Tern pass Splash Point
Common Scoter past Splash Point

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Seaford Head & Cuckmere Haven 2/4/15

I thought the lighter winds may have produced a few migrants this morning, but I guess the overnight rain prevented things from happening. Absolutely nothing around on the head other than three Chiffchaffs at the bottom of Hope Gap.

Pretty much the same down the Cuckmere with totals of:

Dunlin - 2
Greenshank - 1
Snipe - 20
White-fronted Goose - 1
Barnacle Goose - 1
Brent Geese - 2

Wind goes SE tomorrow afternoon so you never know.

 Stonechat in Hope Gap
the recently named 'AGP Pool'. Hopefully one day I can call somewhere down the Cuckmere the 'Prat Pool'. Only based on me finding a Pratincole down here.