Emperor Bird-of-Paradise - Huon Peninsular, Papua New Guinea (July 2019)

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Saturday, 30 March 2019

Upperton Common, Petworth 30/3/19

A slight change today as I am currently taking part in the Willow Tit survey.

One of my locations is a site I've never ventured to before this spring, this being Upperton Common, just to the west of Petworth Park. This was my second visit this spring, but of course my target species was nowhere to be seen, though it was great to see a minimum of five male Firecrests on territory, as well as three Marsh Tits. The woodland looks very good for Willow Tits with plenty of low level cover, mixed species of trees and a small stream running through the centre.

After this very nice woodland walk I went and saw a couple of Dartford Warblers at a nearby common. A couple of female Siskins were collecting nesting material from the car park as well.

Near Fittleworth I walked another woodland, just as it looks brilliant for LSWs, again none of these present, but another vocal Firecrest and plenty of Chiffchaffs and a single Blackcap were in full song. An Orange-Tip and lots of Brimstones were also on the wing.

Last but not least I went and saw the two drake Garganey that were still present on Waltham Brooks, and I was pleased to see a Swallow flying north up the valley.

Yesterday between two presentations I walked around some woodland in the northern part of Sussex, and had an unexpected immature Goshawk fly past me (pictured below).

Firecrest at Upperton Common
Marsh Tit at Upperton Common
Blackcap near Fittleworth
distant drake Garganey at Waltham Brooks
Swallow over Waltham Brooks
Orange-Tip near Fittleworth
immature Goshawk







Thursday, 28 March 2019

Splash Point & Cuckmere Haven 28/3/19

At midday, I noticed the change in wind direction had veered to an easterly direction, and with this I soon found myself down Splash Point, where I only had an hour spare. There obviously wasn't a great deal moving (time of day and poor winds up until now) but I was mightily pleased to see my first Arctic Skua of the season, the species I had predicted for my short watch.

Totals between 13.25 - 14.25 Wind E-SSE F1:

Red-throated Diver - 9
Brent Geese - 3
Arctic Skua - 1 d/p 13.43
Sandwich Tern - 5
Black-headed Gull - 7

During the week the Cuckmere has yet again proven to be fairly productive. On Tuesday I went to photograph the Little Gull after work, and then walked down to the scrape where a superb Little Ringed Plover was found. A bright continental Stonechat was also present around the scrape.

Little Gull showing off it's pink flush
Little Ringed Plover
continental Stonechat




Monday, 25 March 2019

Cuckmere Valley 25/3/19

A bit of free time after work allowed me to visit the Cuckmere. Having heard before my arrival that Laurence had found a pair of Garganey north of Charleston, I briskly walked my normal route down to the scrape, only finding a White Wagtail for my efforts. This then allowed me plenty of time to watch the superb pair of Garganey in the first flood north of Charleston Reedbed. The drake was regularly calling and displaying to its female friend which gave me a good enough excuse to watch these superb ducks until it was nearly dark.

I had noticed a Gull hawking over one of the floods when I had initially arrived, but it wasn't until dusk that I decided to look at it, only to find it was in fact an adult winter Little Gull.....doh!

White Wagtail on the meanders
Drk Garganey north of Charleston
Despite the distance, it's call was 
easily heard.
pair of Garganey among the Teal
Adult Little Gull




Sunday, 24 March 2019

Seaford Head & Upper Cuckmere 24/3/19

On standby this morning but I ignored this and made the most of the fine (albeit cold) weather. Either due to the clear conditions, or the cold front lingering on the northern French coast, there were very few migrants about, with only four Wheatears and two Chiffchaffs being present on the headland.

I then walked from Exceat to Charleston Reedbed checking the floods. The Black-tailed Godwits were now reduced to six, but still included the colour-ringed bird which I am assuming was ringed in Norfolk. The Glossy Ibis was also a surprise after not being seen for a few days. Sadly no Garganey or Dowitchers present, but with the Cuckmere looking at its very best, the next few weeks could be fairly productive.
Wheatear on the golf course
Rook joining the many pairs
in Harry's Bush

Kittiwakes at Splash Point



Friday, 22 March 2019

Splash Point & Lower Cuckmere 22/3/19

A free day for me today so I was down Splash Point for first light hoping to make the most of the slight change in wind direction. With it still being a light wind it wasn't a surprise that it was still quiet, with ten Sandwich Terns being the highlight for me.

Totals between 05.50 - 07.20 are as follows:

Sandwich Tern - 10
Black-headed Gull - 70
Common Scoter - 17
Red-throated Diver - 5
Brent Geese - 57
Gannet - 4
Shoveler - 2
Red-breasted Merganser - 2
Shelduck - 2

I walked the first part of the headland but with no migrants about I gave up on the head and spent the rest of the morning walking the whole of the Cuckmere. I first tried the Lower Cuckmere where a mobile flock of seven islandica Black-tailed Godwits were holding briefly onto a Ruff, a species I've only seen on the patch twice before. The Godwits were later located north of the road and I could make out that one was colour-ringed. There weren't any Pipits about and so I walked the east side down to the scrape.

I soon came across a small group of Scandinavian Rock Pipits keeping very close company to one another. Along the river I came across three more and photos suspect more then six birds were involved. A couple were nicely advanced into spring plumage, but there was still the odd bird showing limited signs of the pinky flush to the breast and tertial moult. A Sand Martin flew up the valley which rounded the morning off in fine form.

Totals for the Cuckmere are:

Scandinavian Rock Pipit - minimum of 6
Sand Martin - 1
Shoveler - 21
Pintail - 3
Water Rail - 1
Black-tailed Godwit - 8 (7 being islandica)
Ruff - 1

Scandinavian Rock Pipit (SRP) No. 1
SRP No. 2
SRP No. 3
SRPs No. 4 & 5
SRP No. 5
Ruff over Lower Cuckmere
Now my third patch record, but only one 
have I ever seen land here.
Distant Black-tailed Godwits
The colour ringed bird had yellow above orange
on the left tibia, and yellow on the right tibia.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Seaford Head 21/3/19

After the school run I was keen to hit the patch after the minor influx of Wheatears that had arrived yesterday, and hopefully into today. It felt very spring like, and with the nice total of Wheatears and a few other scattered summer migrants it felt very promising for late March. Sadly still nothing moving out at sea......the next moderate SE wind could be epic!

Whilst down Splash Point, I received a message of the Hooded Crow being present in the sheep field, and thankfully saw it flying over me heading west whilst I was keeping a close eye on a group of seven Wheatears at Buckle Church.

This afternoon after the school run Leo and I walked the cliffs at Newhaven Heights, but only finding a single male Wheatear of note.

Totals for Seaford Head are:

Wheatear - 12 (2 Hawks Brow, 7 Buckle Church, 2 Hope Gap, 1 golf course)
Hooded Crow - 1 over Buckle Church7
Black Redstart - 1 fem below Harry's Bush
Goldcrest - 4
Chiffchaff - 3
Stonechat - 1 rubicola male along cliff edge

male Wheatear at Buckle Church
Chiffchaff in Hope Bottom
rubicola  Stonechat along cliff edge
Hooded Crow over Buckle Church




Saturday, 16 March 2019

Seaford Head 16/3/19

This morning I fancied a change and thought maybe the shelter of Hope Gap might give me a chance of my first summer migrant of the spring. After a brief search I was delighted to find a male Wheatear feeding along with some Rock Pipits and Stonechats. Nothing else of note on the Head however.

The Cuckmere continued its form with the long-staying Glossy Ibis in situ, and the mobile Hooded Crow was yet again great to see. A minimum of four Mediterranean Gulls were also in with the larger Gulls.


Wheatear at Seaford Head

Glossy Ibis in Lower Cuckmere
The Cuckmere floods continue.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Lower Cuckmere 15/3/19

The misery of strong westerly winds continue, but with the Cuckmere in fine fettle the winds are all forgotten. Today, I nailed my third patch tick in under two weeks with a sublime Hooded Crow(Water Pipit and Barn Owl being the ticks). Back in the 80's they were almost annual, but certainly in recent times it's somewhat of a mega for the patch, and still a rare bird to see in Sussex, despite the recent long-staying Pagham bird. 

After yesterday's report on the SOS website, I was playing it cool and not expecting to find the Crow, with March birds always being brief encounters with presumably continental birds making landfall and continuing on their way. However, with plenty of Crows feeding on the flooded fields and finding lots of food, I was relieved to re-find the Hooded Crow late morning in a field just north of the A259. It later re-located to the SW side of the Cuckmere associating with the Gull flocks and the Glossy Ibis, that was also still present along the central hedge line. Three Mediterranean Gulls of all ages were also present among the many Black-headed and Common Gulls that are taking advantage of the floods.



Hooded Crow at Lower Cuckmere

If going for these birds, take your wellies.




Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Upper Cuckmere 5/3/19

A decent morning in the Cuckmere today. Yesterday on a brief visit I was certain I had a Water Pipit but it flew off fairly quickly. So today I ignored the Glossy Ibis still in its favoured ditch and got to the area of saltmarsh on the first meander north of Exceat.

There were many Pipits about including a few Scandinavian Rock Pipits among the commoner petrosus' Rock Pipits and Meadow Pipits. After a while, a striking Water Pipit was eventually found, and over the next half hour, a total of three Water Pipits were found (including one with a poor supercilium), with at least three (no doubt more lurking) Scandinavian Rock Pipits. A long awaited patch tick and totally unexpected to have three birds, yet alone one present. Sadly despite having my converter on, the photos below are at most poor record shots.

The Glossy Ibis was still present when I left the area.


Water Pipit (probably my best ever view
in the UK). The white underparts
were particularly conspicuous.

A Water Pipit feeding behind a 
Scandinavian Rock Pipit



Scandinavian Rock Pipit

Cattle Egret seen on Sunday morning





Friday, 1 March 2019

Upper Cuckmere 1/3/19

An after work twitch for my second patch Glossy Ibis that was found yesterday by the Eastbourne SWT. Easy to find late this afternoon as it was working the ditches roughly two fields north of Exceat Bridge. Nothing else about other then a large roost of Black-headed Gulls along the river, but no sign of the Spoonbill.


Glossy Ibis at Upper Cuckmere
The last bird here I was lucky enough
to find, way back in 2012. As far as I'm aware,
this is only the third record for the Cuckmere.