Lesser Florican - August 2023

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Friday 29 September 2017

Seaford Head & Scops Owl 28/9/17

As there was no sign initially of the Scops Owl in County Durham I went up onto Seaford Head. The highlight here was a Treecreeper and a Lesser Whitethroat at Hope Gap, the former being only my third Treecreeper sighting on the Head. When I reached signal again, the Scops Owl had just been found, so I phoned Jake and we were soon on a six hour drive up to Ryhope, near Sunderland. The traffic was fairly heavy in places but we made it with plenty of good light remaining and enjoyed viewing the Scops Owl from many different angles to try and get a full view without any obstacles in the way. It was a superb bird to see, especially when a train went past that made it stretch it wings and look around. The drive back was smooth but it still took six hours.

Today (29th) on Seaford Head produced a Firecrest in Harry's Bush, and in the Cuckmere the juv. Curlew Sandpiper remained, a Grey Plover flew south and 2 Whinchat were the highlights of the few grounded migrants that were present.

 Treecreeper at Hope Gap - a coastal Treecreeper is always worthy of further scrutiny, however the large 'step' is very obvious here as well as the very short bill and clean white underparts.

Eurasian Scops Owl at Ryhope, County Durham (phone-scoped attempts)
The Scops Owl tree next to the railway line
 Curlew Sandpiper again in the Cuckmere
 Grey Plover over the scrape
Whinchat along the AGP pool

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Cuckmere Haven 27/9/17

Managed to squeeze in a couple of hours down the Cuckmere this afternoon and with Dad we had a productive visit. Was both pleased to find a Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint along the river (the latter being only my second record in the Cuckmere) and also a showy Merlin by the scrape. A circuit around Haven Brow and Foxhole produced plenty of Chiffchaffs but little else.

Totals are:

Curlew Sandpiper - 1 juv
Little Stint - 1 juv
Dunlin - 6
Mediterranean Gull - 1 adult
Merlin - 1 fem
Whinchat - 1
Wheatear - 12
Chiffchaff - 30+

 Curlew Sandpiper along the river
 Little Stint along the river
Curlew Sandpiper (right) in flight
 Little Stint (right) in flight
 both of the star birds together
Merlin over the scrape

Monday 25 September 2017

Seaford Head 25/9/17

An interesting evening on Seaford Head with lots of fly-catching Blackcaps in Hope Bottom, a single Spotted Flycatcher and my first group of Brent Geese heading west. A group of five Grey Herons were spotted at a very high altitude calling as they came from the north, circled above the headland (attracting another from the beach that soon joined the others) and were watched until lost to sight heading straight out to sea. Back at the car park a very large Bat flew over.

In Peacehaven tonight I heard a Common Sandpiper flying over.

a migrant flock of Grey Herons heading south

my first autumn group of migrating Brent Geese

Noctule Bat over Seaford Head - Many thanks to Chris Glanfield for the positive id. This species is classed as uncommon but widespread in Sussex. 

Sunday 24 September 2017

Gibralter 24/9/17

Some superb views of mostly pale-morph Booted Eagles passing low over the airfield and towards the rock. At least 80 birds were counted in a 15 minute period including a group of 20. Also a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls were loafing about but little else in the short time on the ground.

Saturday 23 September 2017

Seaford Head, Peacehaven & Cuckmere Haven 23/9/17

This morning on the Head was dire and I soon became bored and went home. I chilled for the rest of the morning but soon became bored indoors so I walked the cliffs between Peacehaven and Newhaven, and although the birding was quiet, I was fortunate to spot a superb Convolvulus Hawk Moth in the short grass along the cliff top. I moved it to a safer position out of harms way. Previous to this I had received a phonecall from Tim Squire who had found a Grey Phalarope in the Cuckmere, and spent an enjoyable hour with the bird as it showed down to a few feet. I had joked with Tim earlier on in the day to find me a Red-necked Phalarope in the Cuckmere, so not a bad outcome.

Seaford Head:

Chiffchaff - 44
Grey Wagtail - 2
Yellow Wagtail - 4
Goldcrest - 15
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
Blackcap - 26
Whinchat - 1
Reed Bunting - 2
Whitethroat - 1

Cuckmere Haven:
Grey Phalarope
Wigeon - 8
Teal - 1
Tufted Duck - 1

Spotted Flycatcher by Harry's Bush

Convolvulus Hawk Moth at Peacehaven
the group of Wigeon to arrive in the Cuckmere

Grey Phalarope in the Cuckmere - the second in 11 days!

Friday 22 September 2017

Seaford Head & Cuckmere Haven 22/9/17

The morning started off very well with plenty of birds moving overhead and Chiffchaffs moving inland, but everything came to a halt abruptly and from then on it was hard work. The Cuckmere was devoid of anything other then a lost Lapwing that soon departed west. Hirundines were very abundant throughout the morning. Despite lots of searching the birds aren't giving themselves up easily. Roll on tomorrow.......

Totals for Seaford Head are:

Yellow Wagtail - 45
Chiffchaff - 37
Goldcrest - 6
Reed Bunting - 6 over
Grey Wagtail - 5
Blackcap - 30
Whitethroat - 5
Sedge Warbler - 1
Wheatear - 2
Lesser Whitethroat - 1

Yellow Wagtails by South Hill Barn
Sedge Warbler in Hope Gap
Lapwing over the Cuckmere

Thursday 21 September 2017

Local Stuff 21/9/17

I teamed up with Marc Read for most of the day and we concentrated on most of the local sites, but the strong southerly wind made birding hard work, and despite 7.5 hours in the field there was little to show for our efforts.
Sites visited were Seaford Head, Cuckmere Haven, Crowlink, Arlington Reservoir, Tide Mills and a half hour seawatch off from Peacehaven.

Highlights for the day are:

White Wagtail - 4 (Foxhole)
Redstart - 2
Little Stint - 3
Marsh Harrier
Merlin (Arlington)
Arctic Skua - 1
Common Scoter - 4

 Firecrest at Crowlink

 Redstart at Crowlink
 Marsh Harrier at Arlington
 Common Sandpiper at Arlington

 Little Stint at Arlington
Whinchat at Tide Mills

Monday 18 September 2017

Cuckmere Haven 18/9/17

Up late today due to working late last night so the Cuckmere was the option of the day. Not too much about but a Knot on the meanders along with 9 Dunlin was nice. An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was along the river. Work again this pm so regrettably no twitch to Norfolk today.

 Knot on the meanders
Lesser Black-backed Gull along the river

Sunday 17 September 2017

Seaford Head 17/9/17

Unfortunately fog greeted my arrival on the Head this morning, and it stuck around until I had left. This obviously resulted in low numbers of grounded migrants and nothing moving overhead, though the odd flock of House Martins were heard moving over. With work later this was all I had time for today.

Totals are as follows:

Wheatear - 2
Goldcrest - 5
Whitethroat - 11
Reed Warbler - 2
Grey Wagtail - 1
Chiffchaff - 35
Blackcap - 36
Firecrest - 1

Stoat - 1

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Lodmoor RSPB, Dorset 12/9/17

After work I twitched the American duo in Dorset then spent a few days with the family in Devon. Both birds showed well and were both belated UK ticks.

Great White Egret - 1

Monday 11 September 2017

Cuckmere Haven 11/9/17

After work this afternoon I resisted on having a nap and went down the Cuckmere to hopefully find a Grey Phalarope. On the way to the beach I checked every body of water, but it wasn't until I reached the scrape that my luck came in. Alongside the northern bank was a dainty Grey Phalarope, a long overdue find for me. The bird was very skittish and flew around twice and calling quietly but repeatedly as it did. A superb bird! Other then this the area was quiet.

Earlier today in Montenegro a Black Kite flew over the airport, as did some Hooded Crows.

 Grey Phalarope at Cuckmere Haven this evening
it was mainly keeping close to the northern bank of the scrape

Saturday 9 September 2017

Seaford Head & Cuckmere Haven 9/9/17

A longish day out in the field today but little to show for my efforts. The Head was good this morning but just the standard migrants in relatively good numbers, although Yellow Wagtails have completely dropped off, and unfortunately little was moving overhead. Blackcaps yet again dominated in Hope Gap, and Whitethroats were rather abundant today. Willow Warblers (mainly adults) were also trying to compete for the most common Phyllosc but were outnumbered.
Afterwards I walked all of Cuckmere Haven and up onto the top of Haven Brow with just a Whinchat and 13 Dunlin present.
After a few domestic duties at home I walked the cliff between Peacehaven and Newhaven but with the strong wind nothing of note was seen.

Yesterday in the heavy rain the Cuckmere was quiet despite the hopes of a Phalarope or another far-flung Wader. A seawatch was also a waste of time so I ran 17 miles instead in preparation for the Beachy Head marathon later next month.

Totals for the Head are:

Yellow Wagtail - 4
Whitethroat - 32
Willow Warbler - 10
Blackcap - 100
Whinchat - 2
Sedge Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - 25
Goldcrest - 2
Lesser Whitethroat - 6
Reed Warbler - 4
Tree Pipit - 1
Redstart - 3
Garden Warbler - 1
Wheatear - 2

 Willow Warblers in Hope Bottom
Redstart east of Hope Gap - a few years ago in this exact position was a Wryneck.
Fox alongside Peacehaven Cliffs
Whinchat on Seaford Head on 7/9

Thursday 7 September 2017

Seaford Head 7/9/17

A calm but gloomy start to the day that never brightened up until late morning, and then the wind got up. Despite the first calm morning for a while there wasn't as much as I was expecting, but still a relatively active morning. Hope Gap was filled with Blackcaps but much smaller numbers of everything else. Yellow Wagtails were very conspicuous and in relatively sizeable groups. The first Reed Buntings of the autumn were noted moving overhead. Looking down into the Cuckmere I could see several people dipping the Baird's who then went on to search other areas in the valley, so I decided to go home.

Totals are:

Whinchat - 3
Yellow Wagtail - 70W
Chiffchaff - 17
Blackcap - 120
Whitethroat - 13
Tree Pipit - 1
Reed Bunting - 2W
Goldcrest - 2
Reed Warbler - 4
Lesser Whitethroat - 4
Willow Warbler - 1
Redstart - 1
Grey Wagtail - 4W
Sedge Warbler - 1
Wheatear - 3

Sunday 3 September 2017

Cuckmere Haven 3/9/17

A stressful 1200 mile twitch from Sofia, Bulgaria to see this Baird's Sandpiper, representing the 8th record for Sussex. Another great find by Andrew Whitcomb to whom I'm very grateful for a phonecall, even if I was in the wrong country.

After watching the Baird's, it was great to bump into Tony Hukin, who I spent 8 days with in Ethiopia back in 2012. 

juv. Baird's Sandpiper

Saturday 2 September 2017

Gibraltar & Newhaven Heights

Flew to Gibraltar this morning where upon opening the aircraft door I instantly noticed a few raptors heading towards the rock. It soon became apparent that they were Honey Buzzards and I must have seen up to 40 birds within ten minutes.

This afternoon after work I walked the cliffs between Peacehaven and Newhaven (a route I've been doing in the autumn every so often for a few years now) and found an elusive Wryneck in some dense scrub just west of the chalets at Newhaven Heights. Little else about however.

Wryneck at Newhaven Heights