Saturday, 4 April 2020

4th - 6th April 2020

Monday, 6th April: After some overnight rain and a switch back to a south-westerly breeze, it was another fine and sunny morning.....

Covid-19 restrictions: Whilst we are all now well aware of the Government’s current restrictions relating to the pandemic, including those concerning travelling, exercise, gatherings and social distancing, we at the blog feel the need to clarify certain aspects of the situation to avoid misunderstandings and prevent any unfounded criticism. We realise that a glance at the detailed information on the blog, covering a good number of sites each day, may appear to some to be ‘business as usual’ and a general disregard for the rules, when this is not actually the case. 

The Peninsula is fortunate in having a large number of active birders residing close enough to various important wildlife sites to be able to justifiably take their daily exercise there. Nothing in the rules prevents the use of optical gear or the listing of bird sightings during that time; we are therefore keen to continue to receive details of such properly obtained sightings for the continuing ornithological record. We do not however seek records during this difficult time from those who cannot justify it – for example by those making excessive and unnecessary journeys. Those nearby birders choosing to take their exercise at the Bill do practise social distancing and do not form gatherings of more than two – although on occasions others may be separately watching from elsewhere in the general area. Trouble is, it’s difficult to keep a low profile with a telescope and it is quickly misinterpreted.

The information provided on the blog is, in effect, a team effort and has hitherto been a strength of the whole Selsey Peninsula ‘team.’ It hurts those of us who cannot justify visiting the Bill for exercise at present, but it is what it is and we can and do respect the greater good. So those lucky Peninsula residents who can are doing their best to keep some information flowing. It does mean though that there will have to be some changes to the blog from now on and information will be more condensed or restricted for some time. Not everything will get posted – it gives a wrong impression to some and remember the blog is in the public domain (there were about 900 page hits the other day) and there are those who are not birders but visit the blog, with some only too ready to criticise for whatever reason. Remember it’s not necessarily what we do, but what we are perceived to do!

Selsey Bill: Three Arctic Skuas, 114 Sandwich Terns, nine Common Terns and eight Red-throated Divers east, two Fulmars and 39 Gannets west were the highlights this morning.

Common Tern (above), Fulmar & Gannet at the Bill

Ferry Pool and Long Pool: The first Reed and Sedge Warblers were heard on the Long Pool this morning, whilst the Spotted Redshank was again in Ferry Channel and on the Ferry there were five Avocets, three Black-tailed Godwits, c20 Shoveler and 24 Shelducks.
Also, nearby, the White Wagtail was again in fields between the solar farm and the golf course

Early this evening a male Common Redstart showed briefly in the hedges in Yeoman's Field and a swallow went over.

Sedge Warbler (above) & White Wagtail in the Ferry area

North Wall: A Sedge Warbler was singing from the reeds just past the sluice this morning.
There was an obvious and sudden increase in Little Egrets to nine at Owl Copse this afternoon, with lots of noise and squabbling, though there was no sign of the of the Cattle Egrets at any of their previous haunts.

Church Norton: A very confiding Raven was sat in a tree by Pagham House (on Rectory Lane), but migrant species were restricted to a Sedge Warbler near the hide, three Wheatears along the spit and a couple of singing Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps.
The harbour was quiet, too with highlights being c20 Sandwich Terns, 100+ Mediterranean Gulls, three Red-breasted Mergansers, three Black-tailed Godwits and the long-staying Whimbrel.

Raven (above), Blackcap, Mediterranean Gull, Wheatear, Sparrowhawk & Sandwich Terns at Church Norton

Sunday, 5th April: A bright and sunny morning, warm, too, despite the briskness of the south-easterly breeze.....

Selsey Bill: Finally, a busy morning, with over 500 Sandwich Terns, over 100 Common Terns, the first Little and Arctic Terns, 79 Little Gulls, a Goosander and over 400 Common Scoters among a wide range of species recorded.
(0620-1015hrs) (SE, F4-5)
Great Northern Diver - 1W
Red-throated Diver - 21E
diver sp - 1W
Gannet - 88E, 7W
Brent Goose - 96E
Teal - 4E
Gadwall - 4E
Shoveler - 2E
Tufted Duck - 1E
Common Scoter - 460E
Goosander - 1E
Red-breasted Merganser - 8E, 1W, 2os
Turnstone - 3
Common Gull - 8E, 3W
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 1E
Mediterranean Gull - 5e, 2os
Little Gull - 79E
Sandwich Tern - 511E, 4W
Common tern - 142E
Arctic Tern - 1E
'Commic' Tern - 4E
Little Tern - 1E
auk sp - 2E
Meadow Pipit - 5N
Pied Wagtail - 2N
Chiffchaff - 1
Linnet - 12E

Little Gulls (above), Common tern, Sandwich Terns, Red-throated Diver & Common Scoters at the Bill

Lesser Black-backed Gull at the Bill - possibly intermedius or fuscus - any comments welcome!

Ferry Pool: There were six Avocets on the pool this morning, along with seven Black-tailed Godwits, four Redshank and 28 Shelducks, but there were only a pair of Gadwall, half a dozen Shoveler and c25 Teal remaining.

Shelducks at the Ferry

Park Farm, Selsey: A Swallow over north was the only bird of note.

Church Norton: Up to five Little Terns were feeding offshore this morning, with two Common and 20+Sandwich Terns in the harbour, along with a Lesser Black-backed Gull, a pair of Gadwall and a Red-breasted Merganser on Tern Island and a Lapwing over.
Another pair of Gadwall were on the Severals, whilst two Swallows went over, three wheatears were on the beach, the first Whitethroat of the year was at Greenlease Farm, a Willow Warbler and a Blackcap were singing between the Severals, with another of the latter in Bluebell Wood and there were numerous Chiffchaffs throughout.

Little Terns (above), Sandwich Tern, Wheatear & Lesser Black-backed Gull at Church Norton

Northcommon Farm: About 150 Mediterranean Gulls and 100 Black-headed Gulls were on the golf course, but there was little else about the hedges and paddocks, or at Warner Lane.

Mediterranean Gulls at Northcommon Farm

Sidlesham: Two Swallows went over the garden in the middle of the village and there were also a Brimstone, and an Orange Tip on the wing.

Sidlesham Churchyard:  A Blackcap was singing in the churchyard this morning.

Medmerry: Chainbridge Field area - The only hints of migration were a couple of Willow Warblers and up to ten Chiffchaffs were around the sheltered hedges and two Swallows that went over.
Otherwise, there were plenty of Linnets and Goldfinches, plus a few Skylarks, but not much else.

Willow Warbler (above) & Linnet at Medmerry

West Wittering: Lots of Chiffchaffs around today, and a couple of Blackcaps singing, along with  a single Willow Warbler. A few Mediterranean Gulls were flying over but there was nothing much else of note and the harbour is very quiet - just a pair of Shelduck and a single Sandwich Tern of note. No boats or people either!

Goldfinch (above), Pheasant, Blackbird & Blue Tits at West Wittering

Saturday, 4th April: A shift in wind direction to the south brought a warmer morning, with a mix of sunshine, light cloud and several rolling banks of sea-mist.....

Readers with an eye for detail are directed to the latest addition on our Statistics page where they will discover a breakdown of data covering Selsey Bill. Our esteemed statistician IP  - to whom we are most grateful - has beavered away and recently compiled the list of species recorded at the Bill each year, from 2013 (when the Blog began) until the present time. Check out the good and not so good years and what species were recorded...just click the statistics link on the header page. (Eds)

Selsey Bill: A flock of six Eider east was the highlight, though 100+ Common Scoter and 16 Sandwich Terns went east, too and 146 Mediterranean Gulls went west.. Full log below. 
(0610-0915hrs) (S, F3)
Great Northern Diver - 7os
Red-throated Diver - 2E
Great Crested Grebe - 1E
Gannet - 7E, 5W
Brent Goose - 18E
Shelduck - 7E, 4os
Eider - 6E
Common Scoter - 124E, 3W
Red-breasted Merganser - 6E, 1W, 3os
Turnstone - 11
Common Gull - 1W
Mediterranean Gull - 146W, 4os
Black-headed Gull - 483W
Sandwich Tern - 16E, 4W, 2os
auk sp - 1W
Meadow Pipit - 2N

Eider (above), Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, Sandwich Tern, Brent Geese & Mediterranean Gulls at the Bill

Ferry Pool: The four Avocets were still present on the pool, along with 23 Shelducks, 12 Shovelers and c30 Teal, whilst c30 Black-tailed Godwits were in the channel opposite (or flying around the pool).
A Willow Warbler was singing near the hide, whilst at least three Blackcaps and half a dozen Chiffchaffs were singing around the tramway circuit.

Willow Warbler (above), Avocets & Black-tailed Godwits at the Ferry

Long Pool: There were just a handful of Linnets and Meadow Pipits, plus a couple of Reed Buntings along the hedges, with four Gadwall and seven Tufted Ducks on the water, whilst Ferry Channel held a Spotted Redshank, a Knot, an Avocet, a flyover Snipe, c20 Redshank and similar numbers of Teal and Wigeon.

Knot (above), Gadwall & Linnet from Long Pool

North Fields: A pair of Bullfinches were in Owl Copse early this morning.

A later look around the farmland north of the North Wall produced two Swallows around the barn at the end of Summer Lane and a Little Ringed Plover by the flooded field west of Pagham Rife close to the pumping station. 
On Honer reservoir there were 12 Tufted Duck, three Gadwall and 30 Coots, whilst a Red Kite was floating over at Fisher. 
Fields between Hunston and the golf course were being ploughed and there were at least 50 Mediterranean Gulls amongst the following gull flock, with two pairs of Green Woodpeckers on the golf course. 
On the Bremere Rife near Marsh Farm was a Mallard with eight ducklings and 118 Curlew in the same location. Also, Stock Doves were at Pagham Church, Honer and Marsh  Farms. 

Park Farm, Selsey: There were at least six Willow Warblers around the hedges this morning, along with a couple of Blackcaps and 10+ Chiffchaffs, and there were also two Grey Wagtails, a Sparrowhawk, a Great Spotted and two Green Woodpeckers about.
Also, a Sand Martin went over a nearby garden.

Selsey: A Red Kite went over Seal School playing fields late this morning.

Church Norton: A couple of Willow Warblers, half a dozen Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps and two Cetti's Warblers were in song this morning, with a single Wheatear, a Reed Bunting, a few Meadow Pipits  and three Green Woodpeckers also seen.
A dozen Sandwich Terns were in the harbour, with a pair displaying and another seen bringing in a fish, and there were also c100 Mediterranean and c500 Black-headed Gulls out on the mud, but waders were few - with c20 Black-tailed Godwits the only ones out of the usual, and there was just a lone Brent Goose present. Also, a Snipe was with 15 Teal, flying around over the Severals.

Sandwich Terns (above), Blackcap & Chiffchaff at Church Norton

Medmerry: Porthole Farm - A Merlin was showing well this evening, initially in the maize stubble, then sat out on a tree before it moved off. Also four Swallows were over the settling tanks and 20+ Meadow Pipits were on the fields.

Merlin (above) & Swallows at Medmerry

A quick look this afternoon at the hedgerows between the solar farm and the golf course produced a dozen or more Chiffchaffs and at least one Willow Warbler. In the fields there were eight Pied and one White Wagtail.

White Wagtail (above) & Chiffchaff at Medmerry