Saturday, 19 January 2013

In the Forest

Note how the snow has built up round the ring on its right leg
I spent a pleasant 3 hours this morning wandering around Orlestone Forest which was totally devoid of human life. Not many birds away from the feeding stations, but I did see the back end of 4 Woodcocks, 4 Bullfinches, 6 Goldcrests, a Long Tailed Tit flock, dozens of Redwing and 2 calling Tawny Owls. Still no Crossbills, Siskins or Redpolls.
This afternoon a wander round Hothfield Common which was like a Winalot advert found a flock of 30 Siskins at last, but the star bird was a Grey Wagtail.

Friday, 18 January 2013

What Snow?

A Woodcock beside the road as I drove through Orlestone Forest this morning on my way to The Point.
 At The Point 100s of Razorbills and Guillemots and scores of Red Throated Divers Tooing and Froing off shore. A steady trickle west of Kittiwakes c160 in 1.5hrs, c200 Wigeon west + 4 Pintail, 6 Mallard and 3 Mediterranean Gulls. On the beach the Glaucous Gull kept itself cool by standing on the ice, nearby the Great Black Backed Gull with a deformed tail.
The ARC Pit was disappointing with few birds and little of note. Burrowes was also disappointing, apart from 1 red head Smew and 1 Great White Egret.
At Scotney 2 Slavonian Grebes, increased numbers of Wigeon and the feral Barnacle Goose flock has returned.
Out on Walland Marsh 100s of Winter Thrushes on the fields with 100s of Golden Plover and lapwing,  c30 Tree sparrows in the bushes opposite the feeding station at midley. From the triangle at Cheyne Court 72 Bewick Swans, 2 Whooper Swans, 21 Greater White fronted Geese, a ring tail Hen Harrier and 3 Marsh Harriers.
At the spoil heap in Tickners Lane 2 Yellow Hammers, 8 Corn Buntings, c40 Chaffinches and a Common Buzzard.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

RIP Les Hemblade

A trip back to West Sussex to see my old birding mate Les Hemblade, with whom I spent many weekends birding round Sussex and beyond off on his final twitch. 
 As I arrived early I spent an half an hour at The Burgh watching from the triangle. Where a flock of 20+ Corn Buntings were in the hedge by the paddock along with several Yellowhammers and several Song Thrushes. Across the fields a covey of c15 Grey Partridges could be seen and others that were hidden could be heard heard. 4 Common Buzzards soared over hill with Red Kite and 2 more Red Kites flew down the Arun Valley. On the way back to the A27 30 Bewick Swans could be seen in the fields between Wepham and Warningcamp.  
After seeing Les off  I made a brief visit to Shoreham fort where 8 Purple Sandpipers were on the wooden pier. On the sea nothing worth mentioning.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

More of the same

First thing this morning at the ARC Pit found 1 Great White Egret, 2 red head Smew and 4 Goldeneye among the common wildfowl. In the Willow Trail the Tit flock still had 1 Chiffchaff and 3 Goldcrest also a Woodcock flushed from the sallows and a Marsh Harrier over. At the south end another Great White Egret and 2 Chiffchaffs. The other side of the road on New Diggings 3 Smew (2 drakes) before they relocated to Burrowes.
At The Point several hundred Guillemots and Razorbills tooing and froing with a few Red Throated Divers, a flock of 5 Pintail came in as did c20 Skylarks.
At Scotney I was unable to locate the 2 Slavonian Grebes I missed yesterday, 2 Marsh Harriers flew through upsetting the Herring Gulls and Wigeon and despite spending along time going through the Greylag flock I could find nothing interesting amongst them. By the concrete road to Scotney Court Farm 30+ Fieldfare and 2 Redwing.
On Burrowes from Dennis's hide another 2 Great White Egrets along with 6 Smew, 6 Goldeneye and an elusive Goosander. From Scott Hide a Kingfisher, 2 Chiffchaffs and 2 Marsh harriers were the highlights.  
Late afternoon on Walland 9 Bewick swans with the Mutes opposite Midley barns, 30+ Tree Sparrows and 4 Yellowhammers in the bushes opposite the feeders. By the spoil heap in Tickners Lane 2 Common Buzzards, 6 Yellowhammers, 8 Reed Buntings, 14 Corn Buntings and c40 Chaffinches.  

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

A plod along the beach

 Mid morning at the ARC Pit: In the Willow Trail 2+ squealing Water Rail, a Cetti's Warbler, a Green Woodpecker and in the  Tit flock, still 1 Firecrest, 2 Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff. From Hanson 3 Smew (1 drake), 5 Goldeneye and a Marsh Harrier. At the south end a single Great White Egret and much reduced numbers of the common wildfowl.
At the fishing boats far fewer Razorbills, Guillemots, Grebes and Red Throated Divers on a rough sea than of late, but the ever present 3w Glaucous Gull was on patrol. 
 With little moving at sea I walked along the beach to the lifeboat station. On the way a party of 10 Brent Geese, 18 Teal and 5 Wigeon flew east.

Dozens of dead Dogfish littered the high tide line and were much appreciated by the Gulls and Turnstones.
 250+ Oystercatchers, 8 Bar Tailed Godwits, 2 Grey Plover and 6+ Dunlin were in a high tide roost by the lifeboat station.
 The reserve was disappointing with the reduced numbers of wildfowl. The highlights were a single red head Smew on Burrowes, a party of 10 Snipe over and 2 Marsh Harriers.
Scotney was also disappointing with little of note present.
On Walland all I could find was 2 Bewick Swans in the potato field and a family of 5 with the Mute swans opposite Midley Barn, nearby the usual Tree Sparrow flock and 2 Common Buzzards. 

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Harrier Count

A late start this morning at a bitterly cold point. Still plenty of  Razorbills, Guillemots, Great Crested Grebes,and Red Throated Divers tooing and froing off shore with small numbers of Gannets and Kittiwakes. A few Common Scoter, Wigeon and Shoveller moved east along with 300+ Brent Geese and a Single Red Breasted Merganser, a single drake Eider flew west.
On the ARC a Great White Egret, 2 red head Smew and 6+ Goldeneye among the very much depleted numbers of common wildfowl. In the Willow Trail a Cetti's Warbler tacking and a Water Rail squealing, the Tit flock held a Firecrest , Chiffchaff and 3 Goldcrests.
The track to The Pines found another Firecrest and Chiffchaff with 2 Marsh Harriers over. 
A freezing Walland Marsh this afternoon
Scotney wildfowl numbers were also much depleted from last weeks 1000s. The Red Crested Pochard roosting at the Sussex end and a male Marsh Harrier were the only notable birds seen.
On Walland 74 Bewick Swans in the potato field but no sign of the Whoopers.
The reed bed I was watching had a single male Marsh Harrier roost, the smart male Hen Harrier flew over and returned a few minutes later dropping in to the reed bed in front of me, a few seconds later it came out and flew into a nearby roost. While waiting for the Harriers 2 Common Buzzards flew over along with a few Fieldfare, Snipe, Golden Plover and Lapwing, but once again nothing like last weeks numbers.   

Friday, 11 January 2013

Easterly passage

08.25-10.30  From the fishing boats saw another good movement of Auks with 5,000+ moving east, along with 230+ Red Throated Divers and smaller numbers of Gannets and Kittiwakes. A surprise easterly movement of 639 Brent Geese also a Bonxie off shore.
New Diggings held 2 Great White Egrets, 3 red head Smew and 5 Goldeneye, among the much depleted numbers of common wildfowl which seems to be the case on all the pits.
A walk round the reserve found 2 more Great White Egrets, 3+ Marsh Harriers a Firecrest on the return trail but little else of note.
The ARC pit had another 2 Great White Egrets making probably 6 individuals, from Hanson 7 Smew(1 drake), 6 Goldeneye, a Kingfisher, a Bittern and 3 Marsh Harriers. In the Willow trail the Tit flock held another Firecrest, 4 Goldcrests and 2 Chiffchaffs.
On Walland Marsh the Bewick Swan herd has risen to 88 with Whoopers all feeding on the potato fields. Nearby 30+ Tree Sparrows opposite the feeding station and c15 Marsh Harriers out by the windmills.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Swimming Bittern

1of 250+ Red-throated Divers off shore today
 From the fishing boats this morning the sea was not quite as busy as yesterday but still a very entertaining morning.
07-50-11.00 TG,DW,OL,MH,PT,MC a full count was not made for the whole period (lots of chat and laughs)
Red-throated Diver: c250 tooing and froing
Great Crested Grebe: c2,000 off shore
Gannet: c50 off shore
Brent Goose: 16E
Shelduck: 16E
Common Scoter: 14w  3E
Teal: 18 E then W
Wigeon: 13E
Oystercatcher: 41E
Mediterranean Gull: 2 off shore
Kittiwake: 142E
Auks: 5,593 moved east in the first hour with a rough split of 70% Razorbill 30% Guillemot. The total for the whole period was probably well in excess of 10,000

On The New Diggings of note 3 Smew (1 drake) and 1 Great White Egret.
On the ARC Pit from the screen hide a Bittern watched swimming from 1 reed bed to another, behaviour that I have never witnessed before. Also there of note 1 Great White Egret, 1 Marsh Harrier, 5 Goldeye, 2 red head Smew, 2 Chiffchaffs, 8+ Goldcrests and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
Scotney held c1000 each of Golden Plover and Lapwing, 30+ Dunlin and 2 Ruff.
Many thanks to Richard Smith Bird Watching Days Out for all his help with getting my 7D fixed.  

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Auk Spectacular

A photo cannot convey the extent of today's Auk passage 
 08.00-12.40 watching from the fishing boats TG,DW,MC.  We estimated that the Auks were moving west at a rate of c150-250 a minute and were still moving when we left all be it at a slower rate.
Red Throated Diver: c300 tooing and froing off shore.
Great Crested Grebe: 2,000+ off shore
Fulmar: 1w
Gannet: c50 off shore
Common Scoter:  22w    6E
Velvet Scoter: 1w
Wigeon: 18w
Gadwall: 3w
Mallard: 2 in
Pintail: 5E
Oystercatcher: 504E
Turnstone: c16 on beach
Kittiwake: c250 off shore
Mediterranean Gull: 3 off shore
3w Glaucous Gull: on beach
Guillemot: 12,000+ W
Razorbill:  18,000+W
Grey Seal: 1 bull off shore
Showing the anglers how it is done

Tuesday, 8 January 2013


Another very gloomy start to the the day. The sea from the fishing boats was again carpeted with Great Crested Grebes, Guillemots, Razorbills, Red Throated Divers and Cormorants, with a few Kittiwakes and Common Scoter. A shoal of probably Whiting came close to shore encouraging the Gannets to put on a superb display. (Pity my good camera is still being repaired) Another highlight this morning was a party of 5 Eider moving west also a flock of 13 Shelduck. The Glaucous Gull was in its usual spot on the beach. 

 At The Patch a Little Gull was the star among 200+ Black headed Gulls. On New Diggings 7 Smew (1 drake), 3 Goldeneye and 2 Great White Egrets. A walk from the ARC car park round the reserve produced 30+ Tree Sparrows and another Great White Egret at Boulderwall Farm, the Slavonian Grebe was still at the back of Hookers. The rest of the walk was pleasant now that the sun was shining, but apart from 3 Marsh Harriers and plenty of common wildfowl  little of note was seen.
At Scotney once again few geese present, Lapwings, Golden Plover and Wigeon however were plentiful. While I was there 15 Ruff flew in, one them being colour ringed and flagged. Also present a female Red Crested Pochard asleep on the peninsular, which was well spotted by PT.