Zino's Petrel off Madeira - June 2018

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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



Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Lower Cuckmere 28/11/18

Yet another day with grim weather and so I had no choice but to wrap up and go and look at the very large Gull flock in the Lower Cuckmere. Today there were two large flocks and so working between the two was hard work.

However, a total of three Caspian Gulls were found, with the most interesting being the same first-winter I had found on the 9th November and had not seen since until today. Also of interest was a presumed Polish-ringed third-winter (red ring with white lettering) and a stunning near-adult bird. Yellow-legged Gulls were also well represented with at least nine birds present, including six adults, a third-winter and two second-winters. An adult Mediterranean Gull was also in the area.

More unhelpful distant record shots are below.


Spot the Caspo!


Polish-ringed third-winter
Caspian Gull

Near-adult Caspian Gull

Two adult Yellow-legged & a
first-winter Caspian Gull.


First-winter Caspian Gull
The same individual first seen here on the
9th November, and not in the in-between period.

Adult Yellow-legged Gull

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Lower Cuckmere 25/11/18

After dipping on the Splash Point Snow Bunting I found myself back in the Cuckmere where there was encouragingly a large Gull flock present. The initial few scans produced only a few adult Yellow-legged Gulls. Eventually an adult Caspian Gull and a 1w Mediterranean Gull was found but it was a slightly disappointing outcome.

Whilst watching the flock I heard the approach of what I presumed were White-fronted Geese, and four of these lovely birds dropped into the Cuckmere and remained the entire time I was down there.
As time went on more Gulls joined the flock, and with Richard’s arrival came more Caspian Gulls, with a total of five present, including the same adult seen initially, with totals of two adults, a third-winter and two first-winters. A few small flocks of Redwings and a single Fieldfare flew over whilst scanning the flock, which made for an enjoyable time watching the Gulls.

I stopped off at Splash Point on my return as the Bunting was reportedly still present, however I couldn’t find it.


White-fronted Geese - 
somehow a find tick and presumably
my earliest sighting in the Cuckmere.



third-winter Caspian Gull

Two adult Caspian Gulls

first-winter Caspian Gull

first-winter Caspian Gull
Different from the above bird.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Splash Point 21/11/18

A brief spell down at Splash Point produced two Black-necked Grebes close in that hung around for maybe twenty minutes this morning.

A look at the Gull flock in the Cuckmere produced only an adult Yellow-legged Gull, this despite there being a large number of Gulls present.

Two Black-necked Grebes off Splash Point