Zino's Petrel off Madeira - June 2018

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Monday, 31 December 2018

Review of 2018

Another productive year with many highlights, mostly from the foreign trips, however closer to home was still reasonable. Below is a short list of my wildlife highlights of 2018.

Being stupidly close to a male Siberian
Rubythroat and how it hopped past me and Ian
when neither of us had cameras was a very comical moment.

Eared Pitta in Thailand.
Any Pitta is worthy, but the circumstances
of finding this Pitta were too good.
White-faced Storm-Petrel off Madeira.
This delightful chap bouncing over a clear blue
ocean warrants another mention.
Zino's Petrel off Madeira.
An incredible trio of pelagics seeing my
most wanted pelagic species in the Atlantic.

Balkan Copper in Bulgaria.
A great trip with Dad, and for me this
Copper was my favourite Butterfly for the year.

Pel's Fish Owl in Botswana.

Young male Lion in Namibia.
On my own with three young male Lions as the 
sun rose in Etosha NP was class.

King Cobra in Thailand
Semipalmated Sandpiper at Cuckmere Haven.
No doubt my find of the year, and decade 
more than likely.

A Fea's Petrel was my seawatching highlight. A 
long awaited bird to see from a Cornish headland.
2nd May was Arctic Tern day at Splash Point with
over 3000 passing within a few hours. Flocks flew 
over our position and were heard calling as they continued 
overland.



Sunday, 30 December 2018

Local scarcities 30/12/18

A decent end to the year within a 10 mile radius of home with two scarce species that are either in a private garden or on private land and the exact locations have to be withheld by the request of the house/land owner.


juv/1st w Rose-coloured Starling
in Seaford

Two Pink-footed Geese
in the Ouse Valley
(this area is strictly private)

Monday, 24 December 2018

Pett, Rye & Scotney 24/12/18

A great Christmas Eve birding day out in the far east with Dad. We started at Pett Levels where a group of 16 White-fronted Geese were fairly close, and a few Marsh Harriers and Bearded Tits were over/in the reedbed and some Red-throated Divers offshore. On the way to Kent a minimum of ten Tree Sparrows were found.

Moving onto Scotney GP we walked around the back where a large flock of 100 White-fronted Geese flew west and into Sussex, and we got fairly close to the two Whooper Swans, however they soon became wary of us and so we quickly retreated. A couple more Tree Sparrows were noted, a brief Great White Egret, and a pair of Peregrines were causing havoc with the large flocks of Golden Plover and Lapwing.

Dungeness beach was quiet with no Gulls present, and only a single distant Cattle Egret was found around the horse paddocks. Walland Marsh was slightly better with a lovely flock of at least 29 Bewick's Swans.

Our last stop at Rye produced two Black-necked Grebes on Long Pit, and the Pett White-fronted Geese flew high and east. A great day out and certainly made a change from the local area.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

White-fronted Geese at Pett Levels......

and later on flying east over Rye Harbour

Tree Sparrow near Rye

Many Golden Plover at Scotney GP


100 White-fronted Geese over Scotney GP
and into Sussex.

Two Whooper Swans at Scotney GP


One of two Black-necked Grebes
at Rye Harbour.

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Lower Cuckmere 18/12/18

On Sunday 16th a brief afternoon visit produced five Caspian Gulls (two adults, two second-winters and a first-winter). There were also about ten Yellow-legged Gulls and twenty argentatus.

After a brief and hopeless seawatch this morning, another scan of the Gull flocks produced a total of six Caspian Gulls (adult, three second-winters & two first-winters) over a couple of hours. All of the younger birds today were different to all those I've seen this winter period, but typically with the adults its very hard to determine. Also today were roughly ten Yellow-legged Gulls including a first-winter, and again many argentatus.

Sadly nout else to report.

A pair of Caspian Gulls, with the
first-winter also shown below.


first-winter Caspian Gull


second-winter Caspian Gull

The second second-winter
Caspian Gull

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Splash Point & Lower Cuckmere 12/12/18

Late news for yesterday was a first-winter male Black Redstart at Splash Point, and a Jack Snipe not too far away.

Today looked promising and so I got down Splash Point fairly early and enjoyed my first seawatch for some time. Although slow going the following were seen flying east between 08.05-09.35:

Brent Geese - 11
Common Scoter - 5 plus 8 still offshore
Red-throated Diver - 30
Auk sp - 7
Kittiwake - 5
Shelduck - 4
Guillemot - 5
Razorbill - 10
Wigeon - 2
Great Crested Grebe - 4

Whilst seawatching it was apparent there were many Gulls flying through, and whilst enjoying a latte and cake up at South Hill Barn, I saw hundreds of large Gulls flying over Seaford and diving straight into the Cuckmere. This was very enticing and I quickly finished my treats and surged down where I was greeted with the fields full of Gulls, and over the following four hours I estimated over 6000 Gulls being present. All throughout this session large flocks were coming down the valley and joining the already assembled flocks. As great as this was, the strong light, cold wind and density of birds made viewing extremely difficult and the birds were very mobile.

Eventually I managed these totals:

Caspian Gull - 8 (1w, 2w, 3w & 5 adults/near adults). Originally I had thought 9 but the 1w was the same bird despite looking different in the field.
Yellow-legged Gull - ca. 15 (all adults bar one 2w)
Argentatus Herring Gull - ca. 50
Lesser Black-backed Gull - ca, 2000
Great Black-backed Gull - ca. 4000

Jack Snipe

Brent Geese passing
Splash Point


first-winter Caspian Gull

Adult/nr adult Caspian Gull

Adult (green-ringed) Caspian Gull
(assumed German origin)

Adult Caspian Gull

Near-adult Caspian Gull



A strange individual bearing a
yellow ring so presumably from Germany
or Poland. However it just doesn't look like
a Caspian Gull.



Monday, 10 December 2018

Lower Cuckmere & Rodmell Brooks 10/12/18

After a few chores I walked a loop from Seaford Head and then the Lower Cuckmere. The calmer conditions meant fewer Gulls today although still a very nice second-winter Caspian Gull was present. The Grey Plover was the only other bird of note.

After collecting the bird report, I walked Rodmell Brooks hoping for some Owls or decent raptors. Barely anything noted despite a few hours searching. A Chiffchaff and small groups of Corn Buntings and Yellowhammers was the most exciting it got.

One of three feral Barnacle Geese


second-winter Caspian Gull

Yellowhammers at Rodmell Brooks

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Pulborough Brooks & Lower Cuckmere 9/12/18

Having worked all day yesterday, I was slightly gripped to find out that Matt Phelps had found a White-rumped Sandpiper on his local patch, that is Pulborough Brooks. With the stormy weather around I was hopeful the yank Wader would remain.

I slept rubbish and therefore decided to leave home early, but thinking I would arrive around first light. 6.15am obviously isn't first light and so I chilled out in the car for 45 minutes before walking down to Winpenny hide, where I then had to wait another half-hour before it was light enough to see anything.

Matt thankfully arrived and soon pointed out a roosting Wader much further out then where I was looking. As the morning progressed, another shape emerged a few inches to the left that resembled a smaller and slightly darker Wader, which surely had to be the bird. It took a while before they both woke up, and when they did the smaller Wader got flushed by a Lapwing, and the short flight was enough to confirm this was the White-rumped Sandpiper......result!! A brilliant county tick and ends what will presumably be the last rare Wader of the year, a year that for me has produced a handy trio of ticks, firstly the Broad-billed Sandpiper at Rye, Semipalmated Sandpiper at Cuckmere Haven, and now this.

Sadly, the bird remained at a great distance all morning and apparently never moved, which is never a good thing, and I wonder if it will perish or move on overnight.

Afterwards, a very welcome frothy coffee at David Buckingham's was certainly needed to carry on my day to the Cuckmere where there were three Caspian Gulls (two first-winters & second-winter) in the flock, but more distant today hence the poor shots, but all Caspos are centre shot. Earlier Richard had seen a different three birds so the good winter period for this species continues.

A 'grim German' second-winter
Caspian Gull

first-winter Caspian Gull

first-winter Caspian Gull

Adult Caspian Gull 
on Thursday



Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Lower Cuckmere 5/12/18

Sadly nothing else to report other then more Gulls, although I have been trying to find something else of interest.

On Sunday afternoon, two Caspian Gulls (second-winter & third winter) in the Cuckmere.
On Monday, two Caspian Gulls (same third-winter as yesterday and a new first-winter) in the Cuckmere, as well as five Black-tailed Godwits and singles of Grey Plover and Greenshank.

Today after having a day off in between from the Gulls and having nothing else better to do, I was back and found four Caspian Gulls (a new adult, two new second-winters and the same yellow-ringed first-winter found on the 9th November) in the Cuckmere, whilst just a single Black-tailed Godwit remained. There were four Gull flocks this morning, with two in the Lower and two in the Upper Cuckmere, however all the Casps were in the lower section.

Newhaven Harbour has been quiet recently, and in the Cuckmere Valley, despite walking many wet fields I've failed to find any Water Pipits or Jack Snipe.




A lovely second-winter Caspian Gull

Adult & first-winter Caspian Gull
A more advanced second-winter 
Caspian Gull on Sunday