Tuesday, 4 February 2014

4th - 6th February 2014

Thursday, 6th February: After a brief respite overnight and early morning, the rain and wind continued again with the forecast of a wet day ahead. Observations today may again be at a premium, so any bird news welcomed, and thanks again to IL for maintaining our record of at least some bird news from the peninsula every day! Sure enough the rain arrived in earnest during mid-morning and continued throughout the day, though two hardy souls (which doesn't include me) managed to put a shift in - well done!

Pagham Hbr: Ivan Lang logged 46 Shelduck and 44 Shoveler on the Ferry Pool, 65 Goldfinches near the Visitor centre and 6 Avocets in the harbour.
Sarah Russell reports" I couldn't tolerate being indoors any longer so after lunch I spent a little time in the hide overlooking Ferry Pool.  The rain was still hammering down and visibility poor:  3 Snipe out in the open at the edge of the water, 2 Redshank, 1 Cormorant,17 Shelduck, 56 Shoveler, c150 Wigeon, c75 Teal, 11 Mallard, 6 Coot, 1 Moorhen, 2 Mute Swans, 36 Black-headed Gulls, 6 Herring Gulls, 21 Curlew, 4 Rooks, 1 Pheasant, and just 1 single Lapwing.  Just outside the hide a charm of around 35  Goldfinch.  No sign of the Ruddy Shelducks although I had restricted view and they could have been further along. I tried a picture in rotten conditions, but now I'm back at home it has actually stopped  raining!" (SR)
Ferry Pool birdlife in the gloom! (S. Russell) 

Wednesday, 5th February: Dear oh dear, the thoroughly depressing wet and windy winter of 2014 still shows no sign of abating. Severe gales persisted overnight and into this morning, with lengthy periods of heavy rain, and the forecast is for this continue well into the weekend with no let-up in sight. No bird news yet received today... and so it stayed, almost our first no-news day on the blog....but not quite, a late item from Ivan Lang at Pagham Hbr saved the day!
For information, I had a quick flick through the Peninsula year-list for 2014, which by my reckoning currently stands at 129 species to the end of January. I may well have missed one or two, as if I was unsure I left the details out, but it will be fascinating to see how things progress as spring approaches. Keep looking! (OM).

Hate to think you had a day with no sightings so let’s put it right...(IL)

Pagham Hbr update: 

Ferry Pool – 2 Ruddy Shelduck

Ferry Field – 500 Brent Geese

Pagham Lagoon – 2 Goldeneye

Ruddy Shelducks over the Ferry (AH)

Tuesday, 4th February: Dry throughout most of the day (apart from the odd light shower), with sunshine and cloud. Windy, S/SSW 5-6. Rain forecasted for this evening. Today was definitely one of those early-Feb doldrums days with nothing new about and little to reward the active birder. I headed for the Bill where I met the Worthing boys who had just arrived. The cold, strong wind was blowing in straight at us and proved almost impossible to shelter from; I managed to last just an hour by which time the others had already left, as there was just nothing moving and conditions were fairly unpleasant. Meanwhile the Worthing boys checked out the Dell Quay area, finding a Black Brant and a large flock of Black-tailed Godwits.I decided to leave the Peninsula and head inland; it also proved to be fairly useless but that's another story. I did meet Andy House though at Burton Mill and I hope he won't mind me telling the world, but he informed me he'd just become a granddad..... congratulations Andy, and welcome to the old boys club!!
Selsey Bill (0835-0935hrs): Dry, bright, cold and windy, S/SSW 5-6.
Eider - 1 os
R/b Merganser - 3E, 6 os
Common Scoter - 1 os
Auk sp - 1E
Rock Pipit - 1 ob
Selsey: I parked in Warner Lane and took a walk through the caravan site to the breach at Medmerry this morning. The shingle ridge running between the boulders and the breech is now flat as a pancake, the tide was coming in so I didn't venture along it, just watched from the mound (see pic).  I'd love to say I'd seen loads of birds but apart from a Stonechat on the rough ground, two Kestrels, c150 Lapwing and c70 Brent Geese in the distance, birds were in short supply on this blustery day.  Further along, near the windmill I came across a Rock Pipit, 6 Meadow Pipits and a Pied Wagtail so it was more of a walk than a birdwatch.  The coastal path from the windmill to West Street remains closed due to erosion (SR).

The now-flat breach at Medmerry (Sarah Russell)
Whilst on the subject of Medmerry please see below an update from Adrian Thomas (RSPB):
While checking out the new breach at Medmerry this afternoon (3/2/14), 12 Grey Plover, 100+ Golden Plover, 100 Stock Dove, 500+ Lapwing, maybe 800 Brent Geese and a Peregrine. It will take time for the ecology of the site to develop (the sea is basically flowing over bare subsoil and ex-arable land), so this is very encouraging already. The Environment Agency has confirmed that the unfinished paths are now open to the public, although the two new small car parks remain closed for now. The EA hope to complete the public access this spring/early summer, after which day-to-day management will transfer to the RSPB. My recommendation, should people want to visit in the interim, is to pick up the temporary leaflet from Pagham Harbour visitor centre and then drive to the new car park just south of Earnley Concourse (but be aware there is a road closed between Almodington and Earnley, with diversion via Birdham). Then park in the layby opposite the new car park (please don't block the gate into the site). Walk out east down the new track to the new bank and south to the beach. Please don't drive south of the new car park - it is a private road. And do take care around the beach and breach - the sea is shifting (i.e. chucking!) huge volumes of shingle and clay with every high tide and storm. Any queries, do drop me or the new Senior Warden, Pete Hughes, a line on medmerry@rspb.org.uk.

Church Norton: was bereft of most of its waders with virtually zero in view, even the Peregrine on the small island looked unhappy in the wind! (BFF/DIS/DM) On Pagham Lagoon the Slavonian Grebe was still present (per Matt Eade).

Dell Quay: seeking shelter down the east side of the harbour we found 2 Greenshank and 2 Spotted Redshank amongst the common waders and ducks in the main channel. In the middle of the channel a conservative count of at least 550 Black-tailed Godwits huddled together like a flock of Emperor Penguins trying to keep warm! South of Dell Quay and viewing from Salterns Way we found the Black Brant feeding amongst a huge flock of around 2000 Brent Geese! (BFF/DIS/DM) (see below - pic Dorian Mason)

(above) Spotted Redshank with 2 Black-tailed Godwits, and (below) Curlew at Dell Quay (D. Mason)

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