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

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Thursday, 25 April 2019

Splash Point 25/4/19

What had looked to be a promising week for seawatching actually turned out to be fairly poor. That was until today where for once a decent wind gave a decent return of birds, and especially Skuas where there was one less seen today then the 70 on Monday. By far the highlight today was an exceptionally close Great Northern Diver, so close in fact I didn't have time to fetch my camera, but thankfully Simon further down the beach managed to. Also the first Black Tern was seen, at long last some Common/Arctic Terns and a nice passage of Manx Shearwaters.

An interesting sighting for the day was a drake Common Scoter with lots of white on the upperwing, and this bird was first spotted today along Chesil Beach, Dorset, and roughly four hours later at an approximate distance of 120 miles the same Scoter flew past, apparently an average speed of 30mph (thanks to Paul Harris for details). It was seen later past Dungeness.

Afterwards I nipped round Mum and Dads and spotted a Swift flying towards the town centre. Despite having no bins, it looked like a Common and nothing rarer.

Totals for today are as follows:

Gannet - 200
Common Scoter - 618
Whimbrel - 48
Great Crested Grebe - 3
Arctic Skua - 34
Black-headed Gull - 150
Manx Shearwater - 22
Common/Arctic Tern - 153
Sandwich Tern - 342
Little Tern - 4
Auk sp - 30
Sanderling - 14
Mediterranean Gull - 69
Great Skua - 34
Bar-tailed Godwit - 98
Brent Geese - 52
Velvet Scoter - 8
Avocet - 1 (initially sat on the sea)
Red-breasted Merganser - 1
Dunlin - 1
Red-throated Diver - 8
Great Northern Diver - 1
Little Gull - 3
Teal - 2
Black Tern - 1
Black-throated Diver - 2 (5 more by SL)
Pomarine Skua - 1 l/p 11.28
Arctic Tern - 5

For seawatching totals from yesterday see https://trektellen.nl/count/view/292/20190424

Its been an interesting week elsewhere, on Tuesday with Marc Read, a female Marsh Harrier flew over Seaford Head, and when doing the washing up at home (yes I'm a good house wife), a superb Cuckoo landed in the garden. Sadly it all too soon flew, no doubt put off by my bright yellow gloves! A couple of evening visits to the Cuckmere has produced very little of note.

Great Skua from a few days ago
Common Scoter
Arctic Skuas
Great Northern Diver captured here
by Simon Linington.
Being only my tenth individual at Splash Point,
a picture was much appreciated.



Monday, 22 April 2019

Splash Point 22/4/19

A rather productive seawatch today that was completely dominated by Skuas, with over 70 recorded including 13 Pomarine Skuas with the largest flock being six. Some other good totals and species were seen and at long last Little Terns were moving, with a total of 24 seen consisting of only four flocks. By late afternoon the wind had completely dwindled despite a moderate SE breeze all afternoon, but I was quite glad as 13 hours today was more than enough, with an expected three more days of hard graft down at Splash Point to come.

What was interesting was the totals from Birling, who watched for half the time but recorded similar numbers to me. This was no doubt down to the murky conditions out to sea, which means the birds angle into the south coast to try and find land so they can navigate along it, rather than finding the land much further west and coasting past us. Often I was scanning around to the east and finding birds that had not been seen by people looking straight out. This means the further east you are, the more birds, especially in murky conditions.

Afterwards a short visit to the Ouse Estuary Project provided nice views of both Sedge and Reed Warblers.

Totals between 05.30 - 18.30 Wind NE-SE 2:

Common Scoter - 1176
Mediterranean Gull - 161
Little Gull - 18
Whimbrel - 128
Arctic Skua - 44
Bar-tailed Godwit - 367
Sandwich Tern - 203
Guillemot - 1
Commic Tern - 49 (awful totals for time of year)
Red-throated Diver - 20
Sanderling - 8
Shoveler - 8
Great Skua - 14
Brent Geese - 249
Avocet - 4
Little Tern - 24
Black-throated Diver - 5
Dunlin - 2
Auk sp. - 2
Velvet Scoter - 5
Shag - 1
Pomarine Skua - 13
Teal - 14
Mallard - 2
Red-breasted Merganser - 6
Arctic Tern - 8
Manx Shearwater - 1w
Yellow Wagtail - 1 in

Pomarine Skua times: 1 l/p @ 09.55; 3 l/p @ 09.58; 6 5 l/p.1d/p @ 10.01; 1 l/p @ 10.08; 1 l/p @ 10.43, 1 l/p @ 15.02.

Mixed Wader flocks like this are classic
late April scenes. Here are mainly Bar-tailed
Godwits with the odd Whimbrel.


Sunday, 21 April 2019

Splash Point & Castle Hill NNR 21/4/19

I started the day up Seaford Head hoping for some migrants to have been dropped in the early moderate northerly wind. The wind obviously wasn't strong enough and a short circuit found only a Willow Warbler.

A short seawatch (07.15 - 08.15) after this actually produced a few bits with the following seen:

Mediterranean Gull - 36
Common Scoter - 34
Red-throated Diver - 1
Sandwich Tern - 3
Bar-tailed Godwit - 5
Velvet Scoter - 4
Gadwall - 1
Shoveler - 4
Little Gull - 16
Whimbrel - 3

With Paula, I then walked from Saltdean to Castle Hill NNR via Balsdean where there was an average number of Early Spider Orchids in flower, and other then a hear-only Yellow Wagtail flying over there wasn't much of note. When walking back a couple of Poms had been seen at Dunge, and so it was a brisk walk to the car, throwing Paula out of the car once home and then rapidly arriving at Splash Point a short while later. The first of hopefully many Pomarine Skuas flew past, and strangely there was a short period where Great Skuas were dominating the sightings.

Totals between 14.30 - 19.00 Wind ESE 2:

Sandwich Tern - 30
Mediterranean Gull - 65
Pomarine Skua - 1 14.58
Arctic Skua - 5
Great Skua - 6
Whimbrel - 1
Brent Geese - 13
Manx Shearwater - 1
Little Gull - 13
Commic Tern - 7
Bar-tailed Godwit - 2
Grey Plover - 11

Yesterday afternoon me and Paula walked south from Southease to Piddinghoe where a stunning male Whinchat was on show, as were three Common Sandpipers.

Sunrise on Seaford Head
Early Spider Orchid at Castle Hill NNR
Whinchat at Southease

Friday, 19 April 2019

Splash Point 19/4/19

A very busy week with work meaning I haven't been able to do much, although most evenings down the Cuckmere or Splash Point have just about been worth the continued tiredness.

This evening (19/4) a brief 90 minute seawatch between 17.00 - 18.30 are as follows:

Little Gull - 50 (one superb flock)
Red-throated Diver - 1
Sandwich Tern - 3
Mediterranean Gull - 14
Commic Tern - 17

The Cuckmere this week hasn't been that great although the Great White Egret showed well on the scrape earlier in the week, along with a Bar-tailed Godwit and the single Brent Goose, whilst a Fieldfare was by Foxhole Farm. Three Egyptian Geese were present last night.

Another afternoon seawatch on the 17th April between 15.50 - 19.20 produced the following, with a close flock of Eider being by far the best views I've had recently:

Brent Geese - 21
Gannet - 45
Sandwich Tern - 32
Arctic Skua - 5
Red-throated Diver - 2
Whimbrel - 24
Mediterranean Gull - 45
Commic Tern - 20
Common Scoter - 7
Sanderling - 8
Eider - 7
Bar-tailed Godwit - 27

Great White Egret at Cuckmere Haven

Egyptian Goose at Cuckmere Haven

Another seawatching season is well
underway.




Monday, 15 April 2019

Splash Point 15/4/19

Promising conditions and certainly the best seawatch for a week or so. For the first two hours the passage was very good with a drake Scaup and three Manx Shearwaters being the undoubted highlights among the throng of Common Scoters piling past. With such a strong Auk passage I was too hopeful for a Puffin, and with two passing Dungeness it certainly felt as if our chances had gone, and so that was the case. News from the west of a few Garganey coming our way kept the enthusiasm up but all too soon the passage dropped considerably, and with the wind turning NE it was over until next time. Some great variety today with scarce species such as Black-tailed Godwits and a Barnacle Goose making the grade, and once again great company alongside Richard and David during the quiet periods.

Totals between 05.40 - 13.40 - Wind ESE F3:

Common Scoter - 1124
Gannet - 208
Teal - 43
Bar-tailed Godwit - 24
Auks - 190 (most identified were Guillemots)
Scaup - 1 drk at 06.10
Commic Tern - 47
Red-throated Diver - 8
Manx Shearwater - 3
Whimbrel - 67
Sandwich Tern - 80
Arctic Skua - 10
Little Gull - 24
Velvet Scoter - 8
Grey Plover - 18
Shoveler - 12
Gadwall - 10
Shelduck - 10
Great Skua - 4
Sanderling - 3
Dunlin - 2
Garganey - 4 (3 08.50, 1 09.47)
Brent Geese - 56
Black-tailed Godwit - 2 in s/p
Black-throated Diver - 9
Diver sp. - 2
Barnacle Goose - 1
Mediterranean Gull - 4

Common Scoters
What were originally thought to be five Garganey
 until I got home and realised the error in judgement...….
single Teal at each end of the trio of Garganey
Gannets
Little Gull
Whimbrels


Sunday, 14 April 2019

Lower Cuckmere 14/4/19

After a fruitless morning walking Seaford Head and then a brief spell down Splash Point producing just a Whitethroat of note, I was mightily pleased to get a phonecall from Nick Pope as he had found a Kentish Plover on the west side of the Lower Cuckmere.

Being a mega patch tick I was quickly on site and getting distant views from the western path, but soon closer views were had from the riverbank. The Kentish was associating closely with four Ringed Plover and two Dunlin, whilst a Grey Plover and Greenshank were also present.

This was the 8th record of Kentish Plover for the Cuckmere since 1960, and the first since 1991, and if the water levels are maintained as they are currently in the coming months or years, the scarce Wader list could increase dramatically. My feeling is, if the Cuckmere can attract birds such as Baird's Sandpiper (2017) & Semipalmated Sandpiper (2018) during non-suitable water levels, then the potential for great habitat is immense.


Kentish Plover (distant)
at Lower Cuckmere

Whitethroat on Seaford Head

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Cuckmere Haven 12/4/19

Today (13th April) was utter dire on the patch. A morning circuit around Seaford Head didn't produce a single migrant, and a brief seawatch afterwards was equally poor. I then walked a couple of good looking Dotterel fields to the north of Denton where many Corn Buntings were present.

After a quick late morning nap, I noticed the wind had switched to an easterly, and very briefly went SE during my 1.5hr seawatch at Splash Point with the following birds seen:

Splash Point 11.50 - 13.10 ESE 2:

Common Scoter - 80
Sandwich Tern - 21
Shoveler - 6
Diver sp. - 2
Arctic Skua - 2
Red-breasted Merganser - 5
Bar-tailed Godwit - 8
Mediterranean Gull - 6

Last night the Great White Egret was finally seen on the scrape where it showed well.

Great White Egret on the scrape

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Cuckmere Haven 11/4/19

A brisk walk down the Cuckmere this evening produced a smart White Wagtail and Little Ringed Plover on the meanders. The scrape had not held onto the trio of Great White Egrets from the previous evening, but an Avocet was present. Unsurprisingly there were no passerine migrants present, the combination of the cold wind and very clear conditions not helping here.

White Wagtail
on the meanders
Little Ringed Plover
on the meanders
Avocet on the scrape



Monday, 8 April 2019

Seaford Head 8/4/19

A slight northerly breeze coinciding with low cloud across the headland was a perfect recipe in early April for the first smattering of summer migrants to be found. Before I had even seen my first migrant this morning, whilst walking, my mind went back to the 8th April 2008 where I had a good number of migrants including a 'reeling' Grasshopper Warbler, and whilst recollecting this, on the SW corner of Hope Bottom a Grasshopper Warbler started 'reeling'. I eventually obtained reasonable views. It then became apparent that there was an overnight arrival and over the course of the morning a nice number of common migrants were found.

Totals are as follows:

Fieldfare - 16 (two groups dropped in then continued north)
Grasshopper Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - 15
Redstart - 2 males (Bob also had a female by Harry's Bush)
Willow Warbler - 30
Redwing - 5
Swallow - 8 N
Sand Martin - 13 N

Afterwards me and Bob walked the Cuckmere and found a showy male Black Redstart, a singing Sedge Warbler, Wheatear and a couple more Willow Warblers whilst a male White Wagtail was along the river.

The lovely rear end of a 
Grasshopper Warbler
(Sadly the video isn't downloading)
Redstart at Hope Bottom
Black Redstart at Foxhole
White Wagtail along the river
Yesterday I had a lazy day and only ventured down the Ouse Valley walking from Southease to Piddinghoe but could only come across a Wheatear and 90 Corn Bunting that flew south presumably to roost.

On Saturday a short seawatch produced the following:
06.00 - 10.30 - Wind NE 2:

Brent Geese - 3
Common Scoter - 283
Gannet - 50
Pintail - 2
Sandwich Tern - 82
Commic Tern - 14
Teal - 19
Red-throated Diver - 20
Whimbrel - 1
Dunlin - 7
Razorbill - 1
Red-breasted Merganser - 10
Shoveler - 9
Canada Geese - 2
Arctic Skua - 1
Velvet Scoter - 3
Greylag Goose - 1





Friday, 5 April 2019

Splash Point 5/4/19

A day that had been on my radar all week with full on south easterly winds forecast for all along the channel, and thankfully it didn't disappoint with plenty of variety, and some significant numbers involved with certain species, though once again Brent Geese numbers were very low. The wind was particularly strong for the first few hours, but when it dropped by late morning, the Terns moved in force, that included a surprisingly high number of Common Terns. A flock of Avocets and Eider were my personal favourites for the session, though watching the mixed Tern flocks was great to see.

Towards the end of the eight hours the passage eased off somewhat and I reluctantly left, however knowing I was only 45 Sandwich Terns off from the thousand mark, I may have stayed another half hour.

A Splash Point first for me was purchasing a new telescope, courtesy of David Williams who had noticed my cry for help for sometime now. No more complaining from me now on this matter.

Totals between 06.00 - 14.30 Wind SE F4-2:

Common Scoter - 1273
Gannet - 464
Sandwich Tern - 955
Arctic Skua - 30 (only 1 light phase)
Red-throated Diver - 32
Teal - 27
Brent Geese - 26
Avocet - 9
Sanderling - 3
Black-throated Diver - 3
Shoveler - 2
Commic Tern - 387 (those that were identified were all Common)
Curlew - 2
Red-breasted Merganser - 10
Great Skua - 7
Great Crested Grebe - 10
Velvet Scoter - 3
Eider - 6
Little Gull - 21
Grey Plover - 2
Whimbrel - 2
Mediterranean Gull - 1

Avocets just off the Point
Arctic Skua
Velvet Scoters - this trio were tracked
all along the Sussex coastline from Selsey eastwards.



Thursday, 4 April 2019

Splash Point 4/4/19

At long last some favourable winds, and although not a major passage it was good to kick off April with a nice range of species. The first few hours were very poor, but once the rain squalls had passed, passage picked up a lot with the highlights being some superb summer plumaged Black-throated Divers quite close inshore, and a lovely pair of Velvet Scoters. Sadly my scope is in very poor condition and so no doubt I missed a few things, one such including a flock of 8 Manx Shearwaters and a few Little Gulls, hoping that this isn't the theme of the spring.

The Pied Crow was also still present and showing very well.

Totals between 06.00-10.00 SSW 4:

Common Scoter - 77
Brent Geese - 322
Sandwich Tern - 116
Velvet Scoter - 2
Shelduck - 2
Red-throated Diver - 9
Red-breasted Merganser - 6
Gadwall - 1
Common Tern - 11
Gannet - 173
Arctic Skua - 4
Great Skua - 1
Little Gull - 1
Mediterranean Gull - 34
Teal - 4
Black-throated Diver - 6 (all in summer plumage)
Whimbrel - 2

Pied Crow
Mediterranean Gulls
Black-throated Divers
Brent Geese