Lesser Florican - August 2023

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Saturday 30 April 2016

Seaford Head & Castle Hill NNR 30/4/16

A bitterly cold start to the day but it very slowly warmed up. Following a very clear night it wasn't surprising that very few migrants were on the Head, and those that were present appeared to be mobile and no doubt soon departing north. My first Whinchats of the spring on the patch provided the highlight, one of which flew in front of the car on my way home and perched very close to the car giving superb views. Other then this and a couple of flyover migrants, that was about that.

Totals are:
Whinchat - 3
Wheatear - 3
Whitethroat - ca. 25
Willow Warbler - 1
Firecrest - 1
Yellow Wagtail - 1N
Swift - 2N
House Martin - 1W
Whimbrel - 6E

This afternoon I walked a blooming long way from the back of Peacehaven to the back of Woodingdean for the Early Spider Orchids. Also along the way were five Wheatears and two Sand Martins being the highlights.

two separate Whinchats on Seaford Head
 Raven over Seaford Head
Early Spider Orchid at Castle Hill NNR

Friday 29 April 2016

Madrid 28/4/16

Back again on a late night-stop allowing plenty of time this morning to venture out into the open green areas on the SW side of Madrid. I've never been here in late April before so I was hoping for a different mix of species from what I've encountered before. This was immediately evident this morning when laying in bed I could here a Western Bonelli's Warbler singing outside, but the most unexpected were small flocks of Bee-Eaters.

Totals for the morning are:
Western Bonelli's Warbler - 5
Spotless Starling - 100+
Serin - 25
Tree Sparrow - 7
Melodious Warbler - 3
Short-toed Treecreeper - 2
Pied Flycatcher - 1 male
Zitting Cisticola - 2
Whinchat - 6
Wheatear - 1
Crested Lark - 4
Black Redstart - 3
European Bee-Eater - 11 (3 flocks)
Garden Warbler - 1
Red-rumped Swallow - 3
Common Redstart - 1
Black Kite - 4

Green-striped White - 5
Clouded Yellow sp. - 1

 two European Bee-Eaters
either a Green-striped White or some form of Dappled White.....
a singing Zitting Cisticola
the row of trees in front of the reddish building held a singing Western Bonelli's Warbler
Mt. Etna viewed from Catania Airport

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Seaford Head 24/4/16

A slightly delayed blog post but it doesn't really matter as the weekend proved to be extremely disappointing in terms of weather, that brought with it very few migrants.

On Sunday a brief seawatch to start the day produced nothing at all, whilst up on the Head the following was seen:

Hobby - 1 drifted north
Firecrest - 1 in Hope Gap
Willow Warbler - 3

On Saturday a Short-eared Owl flew over Peacehaven, which made up for seeing only a Tree Pipit on Ashdown Forest earlier in the day.

And whilst writing this, outside there is heavy snow!!!

a very large cliff fall under the 3rd or 4th Sister - a reason why walking under the cliffs isn't the best idea

Thursday 21 April 2016

Splash Point 21/4/16

Just when you think that the day is done for with a moderate NE wind blowing all night, lying in bed this morning I checked my phone to see a Pom had passed Portland, but this wasn't enough for me to move. But when the next Pom news came through relating to a flock of ten birds passing Gosport, I sprung into action and by the time I was on my way to Splash, news filtered through that they had now passed Selsey.

Eventually the flock of nine pale-morph birds flew through and not too far out either. At least three birds supported massive 'spoons', whilst the others weren't too shabby either. Pomarine Skuas are still by far my favourite species to see on a seawatch in Sussex, just stunning birds. Hopefully more to come through despite unpromising conditions for the next five days.

Totals 09.30-11.30 NE 3:

Pomarine Skua - 9
Sandwich Tern - 11
Gannet - 3
Bar-tailed Godwit - 248
Whimbrel - 3
Black-throated Diver - 1 s/p on sea
Commic Tern - 4

A further seawatch this evening would have been normal if it wasn't for a 15 minute period between 18.30-18.45 when an eruption of Balearic Shearwaters moved through, with flocks consisting of 3 and 15. A completely bizarre scene and totally unexpected for the time of year, and yes it does seem exceptionally stringy, but there you go. 

15.05-19.05 NE 3

Balearic Shearwater - 18
Manx Shearwater - 1
Arctic Skua - 6 (3 l/p)
Mediterranean Gull - 13
Whimbrel - 84
Bar-tailed Godwit - 156
Common Scoter - 8
Shoveler - 6
Sandwich Tern - 70
Commic Tern - 6
Red-throated Diver - 2

Monday 18 April 2016

Seaford Head 18/4/16

A fairly productive morning that originally started a bit slow. After looking at the dung pile that produced two Wheatears, a Cuckoo was heard calling over by the golf course. It unfortunately went quiet and with dog walkers progressing that way I decided not to search for it, it having presumably just flown in and continued north. Two Willow Warblers singing at the top of Hope Gap was promising but the Gap proved to be quiet. Having stood by Harry's Bush for five minutes I was surprised by a 'reeling' Grasshopper Warbler right in front of me in a small bramble patch, however I just couldn't see it. Despite climbing into the wood and skirting around the bramble, there was still no sighting, so my only option was to lie flat on the ground with a view under the bramble, and after a short while the Gropper was seen creeping around like a Crake, at times showed reasonably well. Back at the car park and all packed up ready to go, a 'flock' of Wheatears arrived and lined up on the Barn, totalling seven birds. A better morning but still no real numbers.

Totals are:
Wheatear - 13
Whitethroat - 7
Cuckoo - 1 heard
Willow Warbler - 4
Grasshopper Warbler - 1 in Harry's Bush
Goldfinch - 15N - a tight flock
Swallow - 3
Redstart -1 male

 two different Wheatears; one fresh, one very worn individual

stunning Grasshopper Warbler in Harry's Bush

Sunday 17 April 2016

Seaford Head 17/4/16

A lovely morning and the wind direction meant that most of the area was sheltered. I didn't start too early as I wanted the area to warm up. More migrants around today though,  but lacking any quality. Blackcaps were the most notable species today with at least 20 recorded, with some birds seen in small groups feeding on the ground or low down in scrub.

Afterwards I checked the cliff-top gorse and scrub between Peacehaven and Newhaven Heights playing a variety of Sylvia songs and calls, but alas nothing was to be found.

Totals are:
Redstart - 2
Whitethroat - 7 (same as yesterday as singing in same locations)
Lesser Whitethroat - 6
Blackcap - 20
Willow Warbler - 2
Chiffchaff - 4
Wheatear - 2
Swallow - 3

 Redstart in Hope Gap
Blackcap in Harry's Bush - abundant today
Pyrausta ostrinalis near Seaford - a very rare micromoth

Saturday 16 April 2016

Seaford Head 16/4/16

A later start then anticipated as catching up on sleep after a week of earlies was a top priority, and awaiting news on the Cornwall Snowy Owl that unfortunately didn't materialise wasted some of the morning.

The Head was rather quiet although an increase in Blackcaps was evident, and Whitethroat numbers are slowly building. The most interesting sighting was a Blackcap mimicking a Reed Warbler and then a half-hearted Melodious Warbler. The latter would be most welcome this spring.

After collecting a new laptop in Eastbourne, I stopped off in Abbot's Wood, but strangely no Nightingales were heard. Maybe a tad early?

Totals for the Head are:
Whitethroat - 7
Wheatear - 1 fem
Blackcap - 6
Lesser Whitethroat - 2
Swallow - 1

Most Sylvias above are now on territory, with hopefully plenty more to arrive.

Whitethroat in Hope Gap

Thursday 14 April 2016

Cuckmere Haven 14/4/16

Another stunning evening down the Cuckmere, but still quiet with just the following seen.

Red Kite - 1 flew west
Dunlin - 6
Greenshank - 1
Firecrest - 1 at Foxhole
Goldcrest - 3 at Foxhole
Blackcap - 3 at Foxhole
Teal - 1 fem on meanders

 Red Kite
 Oystercatchers undertaking some form of ritual
Blackcap at Foxhole

Wednesday 13 April 2016

Seaford Head & Cuckmere Haven 13/4/16

Spent a stunning afternoon around the patch but the area was generally quiet, though there were a few nice bits in the Cuckmere. The only sighting of any interest on the Head were my first Lesser Whitethroats of the year.

Cuckmere totals:
Common Tern - 2 over meanders (a good site record being my first 'inland' here)
Dunlin - 8
Greenshank - 1
Wheatear - 2
Mediterranean Gull - 4 adults east

 Lesser Whitethroat in Hope Gap
 Wheatear at Cuckmere - very poor spring so far for these
 Common Tern at Cuckmere

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Weir Wood Reservoir 12/4/16

Working early shifts do have their advantages, for example finishing mid-afternoon then popping over to Weir Wood to watch a Black-winged Stilt. No photos unfortunately due to the extreme distance of the bird. 

Earlier in Crete, a couple of Hooded Crows were knocking about. 

Sunday 10 April 2016

Seaford Head & Splash Point 10/4/16

Despite the forecast SE wind, I started on Seaford Head though was very disappointed to find very few migrants. It started well hearing a Willow Warbler singing as soon as I got out the car, but hopes were short-lived. After just an hour of wandering around, I dashed down to Splash where a further four hours produced a steady passage of birds, with the undoubted highlight being a Manx Shearwater close in, as well as some very close Tern flocks.

I was almost tempted by the Hooded Crow at Church Norton, but pleased I stayed put as there was no sign by the time I would've got there.

Totals are:

Seaford Head:
Firecrest - 1
Willow Warbler - 3

Splash Point 07.55-12.15 (my records only-some birds not noted due to forgetfulness)
Manx Shearwater - 1 (initially picked up heading west, but turned, sat on the sea then flew close in heading east)
Brent Geese - 105
Common Scoter - 518
Sandwich Tern - 150
Commic Tern - 67
Common Tern - 24
Arctic Tern - 11
Pintail - 2
Arctic Skua - 2 d/p
Great Skua - 1
Black-throated Diver - 5
Red-throated Diver - 6
Mediterranean Gull - 4
Little Gull - 4
Shoveler - 4
Gannet - 4
Teal - 5
Whimbrel - 9 (one flock)
Eider - 2
Grey Plover - 1
Sanderling - 1

 a mixture of Terns
 Brent Geese still going strong
 a horrid picture of a stunning Black-throated Diver
two Eider with Common Scoter - the former being one of my favourites on a seawatch

Friday 8 April 2016

Seaford Head 8/4/16

A superb morning to be out but the clear, cold night resulted in limited migrants on offer. The highlight however was a Nightingale croaking in Hope Gap. Other then this, a standard fare consisting of the following: 

Nightingale - 1 'croaking'
Firecrest - 1
Willow Warbler - 4
Redstart - 1 fem
Blackcap - 2
Whitethroat - 1
White Wagtail - 1 male
Goldcrest - 1
Chiffchaff - 4
Black Redstart - 1 

 Blackcap in Hope Gap
Willow Warbler in Hope Gap
female Common Redstart in Hope Gap
Whitethroat in Hope Gap
Black Redstart at South Hill Barn

Sunday 3 April 2016

Seaford Head 3/4/16

Got home from work at 2am but I was keen to get going on the Head after hearing reports of migrants hitting Portland etc. Although numbers were still low, it was great to see and hear my first Whitethroat. A Little Ringed Plover first picked up by its call that soon flew high north was my first record on the Head, but what stole the 'show' was a Weasel that played a game of hide and seek with me for five minutes.

Totals are:
Whitethroat - 1 male
Firecrest - 1
Willow Warbler - 1 
Chiffchaff - 8
Little Ringed Plover - 1 north at 09.20
Goldcrest - 2

Weasel - 1 

A couple of nice bits from some short seawatches over the weekend have included the following:

Slavonian Grebe - 2 in transitional plumage
Common Tern
Little Gulls
plus lots of Scoter, Sandwich Terns, Divers etc.

 Whitethroat just east of South Hill Barn
 Chiffchaff in Hope Gap

 a stunning Weasel between Hope Gap and Coastguard Cottages
Little Gulls over Splash Point

Friday 1 April 2016

Seaford Head 1/4/16

Again seawatching proved pointless so up on the Head again where there wasn't a great deal with only a couple of new arrivals seen. 

Totals are:

Black Redstart - 2 fem 
Firecrest - 4
Goldcrest - 6
Chiffchaff - 2
Wheatear - 1
Corn Bunting - 2 incl. singing male whilst other bird flew SW over