Lesser Florican - August 2023

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Friday 26 February 2021

'Birding to Base Camp' - Birdwatch Issue 345

I was pleased this month to get a 4-page article into Birdwatch magazine, featuring my Everest trek from last year and the many exciting birds seen along the Khumbu Valley: Himalayan Monal, Blue-fronted Redstart and Tibetan Snowcock to name a few. Thrown in for good measure are a number of scenic shots of Everest itself.

The magazine, if you wish to purchase it, can be bought online.

Tuesday 23 February 2021

Splash Point & Lower Cuckmere 23/02/21

On Sunday, I had to drive back to Seaford to offer my services to my parents who are still unable to get out. Of course, I decided to make the most of it, arriving at Splash Point for first light where only a trio of Shags were present offshore and the odd passing auk and Common Scoter.

Afterwards, I parked up on Seaford Head and walked the Cuckmere. No doubt the highlight was three Water Pipits which were present on the west side, and at one point, feeding together. Also present were a handful of Scandinavian Rock Pipits, two Knot and a Bar-tailed Godwit. The gull flock was fairly poor although it did contain a good number of adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Scandinavian Rock Pipit in flight

Water Pipits in Lower Cuckmere

Sunday 21 February 2021

Bob Izzard RIP

Today, I found out the saddening news that local birder, and overall good friend, Bob Izzard, sadly passed away a couple of days ago.

Bob could often be encountered down Cuckmere Haven where he spent countless hours watching and photographing the birds. It was during many of these sessions that Bob would find the odd good bird too. Two that spring to mind straight away are the following: Sabine's Gull at Cuckmere and the very popular Corncrake at Beachy Head. The latter was enjoyed by many during the course of its three-day stay.

Overall though, Bob was a true gent and always had a smile on his face and was generally a joy to be around with. In recent years I sadly didn't see Bob too often due to his illness, but every Spring, he would often tap me on the shoulder as I sat down Splash Point and we'd have a nice chat.

Condolences to Bob's family, and lastly to say, Bob will certainly be missed by all the local birders who were fortunate to know him.

Bob Izzard

Corncrake - April 2013

Sabine's Gull - September 2011

Saturday 20 February 2021

Lynchmere & Stanley Commons 20/2/2021

Today, I entered Sussex for only the third time this year to embark upon my season of a heathland bird survey on Lynchmere & Stanley Commons. They are far from the classic West Sussex commons which I'm used to, however, there is always a healthy Crossbill population here. The Brambling flock that I found in December has sadly dispersed; in fact, very few finches were present other than some flyover Lesser Redpolls and Siskins.

I found a superb viewpoint that overlooks many wooded valleys which lie to the west of Blackdown, and if I'd given it more time, no doubt a Goshawk would have emerged from this pristine habitat before too long.

A Dartford Warbler was a surprise find on a miniscule segment of heather on Stanley, but it was the Crossbills that once again provided the avian highlight of this area; otherwise, it was just overwhelmingly thrilling to be out and about in Sussex again.

Crossbills at Stanley Common - 
this male was in full song!

Friday 12 February 2021

Chivi Vireo - Beunos Aires, Argentina 18/11/2016

It's been a while since my 5-week trip to Argentina and the Southern Oceans, however, between now and then a couple of birds have been through taxonomic splits. In 2018, the resident Chivi Vireo got split from the migratory Red-eyed Vireo; from this news I quickly remembered photographing a Red-eyed Vireo-type at Costenera Sur, where upon closer inspection, appears I had clearly photographed a Chivi!

Formally considered to be the same species as Red-eyed Vireo, genetic analysis reveals the Chivi Vireo is closely related to the Black-whiskered Vireo, despite near-identical in appearance to Red-eyed. The subtle differences from Red-eyed include the lack of a red eye(!), yellow under-tail coverts and a yellow wash to the neck sides. 

This site in Buenos Aires is on the edge of the Chivi Vireo's distribution, where they comonly occur further North and West across much of South America.

Chivi Viero at Costanera Sur, B.A.

Saturday 6 February 2021

White-throated Sparrow in Barcombe - The 2nd Record for Sussex

This exquisite bird was found in early February, and through some thorough investigation work, I managed to find out where exactly it was. This bird was probably seen by over 50 people during its seven week stay, and occasionally, heard singing on many occasions.

The last record of this species in the county was back in 1968. 

White-throated Sparrow at Barcombe

Friday 5 February 2021

Virtual SOS Presentation on Weds 10th February

Long time no see, but fear not, at 7pm on Wednesday 10th February, I shall be giving a 35-minute presentation titled 'Autumn Bird Migration in Sussex'. This presentation will mainly be focusing on: The many different species that migrate through Sussex; the ideal weather conditions; and the optimum month, plus potential species that have yet to make it onto the Sussex list!

For further information and to sign up for FREE, please visit the SOS website (www.sos.org.uk) and click on the link 'Virtual Talks'. See you on Wednesday!

Yellow-browed Warbler