A quick jaunt down the Cuckmere before work wasn't too bad. I walked the east side with only a flushed Water Rail being of note. A quick look out at sea produced a good flow of Divers and Auks heading east. On the return route I scanned over to the west side and checked the Gulls and was not overly surprised to find a juv. Glaucous Gull (two birds being present at Arlington yesterday). Just as I started walking off having photographed this individual, a second Glaucous Gull appeared flying up river, which then turned around and settled close to the first individual. When I left an hour later both birds were still present although other Gulls were constantly heading off north, presumably to Arlington. The Barnacle Geese were also still present.
first Glaucous Gull
the second and much smaller Glaucous Gull, though unfortunately not small enough
A morning of freezing fog was enough to get me on the cliffs hoping for some coastal 'winter movement', but there was little if anything moving through. However, the same field that I had encountered plenty of Buntings last year was yet again full of birds. The majority of which were Skylarks, but also stacks of Corn Buntings, Reed Buntings and Linnets. I just wonder if a stray Pine Bunting could be mixed in with this lot, and I'll certainly keep looking through these birds just in case there is.
Another brilliant day out in the east of the county. The main target for the morning was to see the Lapland Buntings behind Scotney GP, and these were found with ease despite them being very mobile......at least they were easy to pick up with their distinctive flight call. All the Geese were still present which as always were a treat to see. I quickly stopped at Jury's Gap and found two Velvet Scoters offshore and then went to see the Red-necked Grebe again. A long walk around Rye produced just a Bittern of note, a quick stop at Pett produced yet more Geese, and much closer to home at Newhaven Harbour a superb Merlin flew through.
Yesterday I arrived at Burton Mill Pond before first light, and I'm pleased I did as at 7.02 the Bittern flew out of its roost. This did however only provide me my worst views ever of a Bittern as only a brown smudge flying around was the only feature I managed. Later on I eventually caught up with the long-staying Great White Egret.
Highlights for today are:
Lapland Bunting - 2 Scotney (back pits)
Tree Sparrow - 3
Tundra Bean Geese - 4
Pink-footed Geese - 4 Velvet Scoter - 2 off Jury's Gap
Red-necked Grebe - 1 at Camber
Goldeneye - 1 drk on Long Pit
Bittern - 1 Castle Water Bearded Tit - 5 Pett Levels
Pink-footed Goose - 1
White-fronted Geese - ca. 20 Merlin - 1
Lapland Bunting at Scotney GP
Bittern at Castle Water
distant Great White Egret at Arundel WWT - 20/1/17
With reports of a severe RTC in Seaford my plans for visiting the Cuckmere were ruined, so I went to Newhaven Harbour instead finding yet another first-winter Caspian Gull on the beach. Very little else about.
a very leggy first-winter Caspian Gull at Newhaven Harbour late morning
I had just arrived at the Cuckmere and started scanning a small group of Gulls when Paul James kindly phoned me saying he had re-found the male Serin at Tide Mills. I quickly gave up on the Gulls (nothing there) and headed straight there seeing it straight away. The bird was constantly singing and seen showing well on the deck.
A semi-relaxing day with Paula was planned in the east of the county, but as usual the birds ruled the day and it turned into a bit of a rush. Pett Levels was first where the normal Geese were present. News then came through of a single Waxwing at Fairlight, and despite getting there 10 minutes later there was no sign so we continued onto Scotney. More Geese and a Black-necked Grebe at the Sussex end, and annoyingly a Great White Egret was just inside the Kent border.
Back at Northpoint news came through of a flock of Waxwings in East Grinstead. We contemplated the idea over a sausage sandwich and hot chocolate at a café in Rye Harbour. I cracked and 90 minutes later we were watching a superb flock of Waxwings, that roughly half hour later took off not to be seen for the rest of the day. A walk around Gill's Lap after produced just a few Redpolls.
Highlights today are:
Taiga Bean Geese - 5
White-fronted Geese - 15
Marsh Harrier - 1
Tundra Bean Geese - 3
White-fronted Goose - 18 (17 on back pit)
Black-necked Grebe - 1
Great White Egret - 1
East Grinstead & Gill's Lap Waxwing - 33
Redpoll - 7
2 Tundra Bean Geese at Scotney
single White-front & Beans at Scotney
33 Waxwings at East Grinstead - surely not the last flock this winter, but good to get them out the way
After the school run I went down Splash Point for my first seawatch of the year. It wasn't too bad but I was hoping for some cold weather movement or at least a white-winged Gull.
Totals between 9.05-10.05 Wind SW 3-4:
Common Scoter - 15E
Auk sp. - 144W (all very distant)
Red-throated Diver - 4E + 10W
Gannet - 56W
Afterwards I decided to check if there were any Gulls in the Cuckmere. Approaching from Chyngton Farm I was pleased to see a large gathering in front of me, and was even more pleased when I found a juvenile Glaucous Gull mixed in. Setting up the scope a further scan produced 2 Caspian Gulls (1w & 2w), but then all the Gulls got flushed and most headed inland, some out to sea with only a couple of hundred remaining, that included the second-winter Caspo. I didn't see the Glauc again, but thankfully ADW found presumably the same bird at Arlington roughly half-hour later.
On the 11th I was on standby and decided to wait up at LGW right on the Sussex border. I found a pair of Ring-necked Parakeets straight away but they were in a tree bang on the border and the branch they were on seemed to be overhanging into Surrey. My best attempts couldn't get them to fly south, so I had to keep on walking around. Fortunately it didn't take too long before another pair done the decent thing and flew into Sussex.
juv. Glaucous Gull in Lower Cuckmere
2w Caspian Gull in Lower Cuckmere (apologies for two horrendous phone-scoped pics)
A day out with Bob Self where we managed to record a total of 108 species including 3 'heard only'. Every site we visited we were greeted with plenty of luck, including only spending five minutes at Lavington getting Dartford's and Crossbills straight away without any effort required. One of the top birds for the day was a stunning drake Goosander at Petworth Park. The many highlights are listed below.
Barn Owl - Shoreham Bewick's Swans, Mandarin, Firecrest - Arundel WWT
Great Grey Shrike - Coldwaltham Brooks
drk Goosander - Petworth Park
Dartford Warbler, Crossbill - Lavington Common
2+ Hawfinch - West Dean Woods
4 Spotted Redshank, Water Pipit - Fishbourne
Scaup, Long-tailed Duck - Ivy Lake
Great Northern Diver - Selsey
3 Long-tailed Duck, 15 Slavonian Grebe - Church Norton
11 Avocet, 5 Knot - Pagham Harbour
Hawfinch at West Dean Woods - very few photos taken today due to rushing around, but thankfully I had the camera for this beauty that showed within 10 minutes of being on site. Atleast two birds were along the road leading up the hill between Stapleash and Moncton Farm.
Two visits to this site today thankfully yielded in the end a stonking first-winter Caspian Gull. It remained on site for over an hour as the tide slowly came in. Further scans produced a presumed second-winter, though a couple of features leave me in some doubt, though at the time this bird looked very promising.
Earlier in the week I managed to get over to the east of the county with the following highlights seen:
Red-necked Grebe - Camber
Hen Harrier - Scotney GP
Tree Sparrow - 20 at East Guildford
Taiga Been Geese - 5 at Pett
Pink-footed Geese - 4 at Pett + Barnacle Geese & Ruff
Cattle Egret - 2 at Tarring Neville
a hugefirst-winter Caspian Gull that showed well for over an hour
presumed second-winter Caspian Gull - the pale iris and shorter-legged appearance is slightly concerning but in the field the profile looked very promising. Yellow-legged Gull is the other option.
The usual start to a year trying to see everything one would expect. The day was reasonably good though inevitably species were missed. A slight change of plan late on new years eve as my car suffered a flat tyre meant I was to drive Paula's tiny car, much to its, and probably her disgust. Still, we spent the day together meaning she could keep an eye on me driving her car around the county. I ended the day with a respectable 92 species, not bad considering the conditions.
Highlights for the day are:
Rose-coloured Starling - Crawley
Egyptian Goose - Petworth (no sign of the Goosander)
Scaup - Ivy Lake
Water Rail - Siddlesham Ferry feeding out in the open
Great Northern Diver - Selsey
Long-tailed Duck - Church Norton
Mandarin - Arundel
Bewick's Swan - Offham
Grey Partridge - The Burgh
Jack Snipe - Tide Mills
Purple Sandpiper - Tide Mills