Saturday, 22 March 2014

22nd - 24th March 2014

Monday, 24th March: Another bright and sunny start, but this time much colder, below freezing with a heavy frost and a light SSE breeze. It seems likely to remain colder for a while with a forecast of E to NE winds later this week.
Selsey Bill 0730 to 0915hrs: Sunny & bright again, with a chilly wind with more east than south in it. And once again slow going!
ESE F3/4: (Obs: AH/GH/SR)
Great Northern Diver - 7 os
diver sp - 1E
Great Crested Grebe - 4E
Fulmar - 3W
Gannet - 3W
Brent Goose -1W
Shelduck - 3W
Common Scoter - 3E
Eider - 3W & 1 os
Red-breasted Merganser - 8 os
Sandwich Tern - 3E & 2 os
Meadow Pipit - 1 obs
Ferry Pool: Six Avocets this morning, looking very like three pairs. Also a Kingfisher over, and still 40+ Shoveler & Shelduck. (AH)

Avocet on the Ferry (AH)
Honer Farm Reservoir: No sign of the Whooper Swans today, though 30+ Mute Swans flew in. A Snipe flew out of nearby reeds, and a couple of Yellowhammers and Skylarks were nearby. (AH)
Porthole Farm: At least 8 Yellowhammers this morning, along with 2 Reed Buntings, a Meadow Pipit, 10 Pied Wagtails, and at least 10 Stock Doves out with the crows on the bare fields. (AH)
Yellowhammer at Porthole Farm (AH)
Pagham North Wall: Still fairly quiet along the Wall. There were 18 Wigeon along White's Creek and a Grey Wagtail was around the sluice gates. Four very noisy Oystercatchers were doing the piping display out on the mud. The Breech Pool is open mud at the eastern end, a Water Rail took exception to a Grey Heron being on its patch and forced it to fly away. On the Pool were 40 Teal, 4 Tufted Duck, 2 Mute Swans and 2 Little Grebes. Cetti's Warblers can be heard almost anywhere along the Wall. A flock of 14 Bar-tailed Godwits flew in from the Harbour and continued strongly in a NE direction. There were 2 Chiffchaffs along the Wall and a further 3 in Owl Copse. On Owl Copse water a Little Grebe was stealing nesting material from a Coot's nest (JW).
The 2 Spotted Redshanks were on the Breach Pool & the Iceland Gull on the Lagoon later in the day. (B&MC per SOS)

(above) - piping Oystercatchers on the North Wall and (below) Water Rail and Grey Heron following their dispute on the Breech Pool (JW)

Medmerry: Easton Lane to Bracklesham:  2 Little Ringed Plovers, 28 Shelduck, 4 Tufted Ducks, 11 Teal, c20 Skylarks, 1 Pied Wagtail, 3 Curlew, 18 Goldfinches, 9 Yellowhammers, 1 Red-legged Partridge, 3 Buzzards, 1 Kestrel and a number of Chiffchaffs calling (SR/M&CE).
Sunday, 23rd March: A bright sunny start with a fresh-strong north-westerly blowing; never conducive to a good sea-watch in this part of the world! Cool with heavy showers later.

Selsey Bill 0600 to 0930hrs: Sunny, bright, cool with some cloud. Wind NW5-6: A reasonable turn-out of people, but again relatively few birds although it could have been worse - a Long-tailed Duck, a couple of distant Little Gulls, the odd Fulmar and Gannet moving about, the regular Great Northern Divers offshore and a few Meadow Pipits in off the sea being the highlights (AH). Full log below (Obs: SH/IP/PB/SR/CRJ):-
Great Northern Diver - 3 os
Black-throated Diver - 1W
Diver sp - 1E
Great Crested Grebe - 2W, 1 os
Slavonian Grebe - 3 os
Mute Swan - 2W
Eider - 1W
Common Scoter  - 4E, 8 os
R/b Merganser - 2E, 10 os
Long-tailed Duck - 1 os flew off E
Fulmar - 1E, 4W
Gannet - 8E, 1W
Turnstone - 40E
Peregrine - 1W
Kittiwake - 5W
little Gull - 2 os
Med Gull - 3 os
Sandwich Tern - 1E
Meadow pipit - 11N
(also Common Seal 1os)

Fulmar off Selsey Bill (AH)

Church Norton: Still quiet on the migrant front - a briefly singing Blackcap and a few Chiffchaffs being the only evidence. The Galtry's reported the Iceland Gull in the harbour first thing, and there was a Spotted Redshank in the creek on the way to the beach and 9 Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. (AH) A late morning walk from Selsey - Church Norton produced 4 R/b Mergansers os, 5 Buzzards, 1 Kestrel, a Chiffchaff and a Black Redstart in the hedgerow near Park farm (Langmead's res). (SH/SaH/IP).
Spotted & Common Redshank at Church Norton (AH)
Ferry Pool: Still 6 Avocets this morning, and 4 Gadwall present. (AH) Later, a Willow Warbler near Ferry hide/Discovery area (C&ME).

Medmerry: There were 3 Little Ringed Plovers on the pool south of Marsh Farm today (with 2 still present late afternoon). Also there were 3-4 Wheatears, a White Wagtail, 5 Pied Wagtails, 10+ each of Meadow Pipit and Linnet, 4 Yellowhammers, 2 Reed Buntings and many hundreds of corvids in the vicinity. (SH/M&KG/AH at different times)
 Little Ringed Plover (above) & Rook at Medmerry (AH)
Saturday, 22nd March: Cloudy with showers, cool and quite windy. The 'regular' Iceland Gull was on Pagham Lagoon again early this morning before flying off. Also a Common Seal was reported off the Bill and a Grey Seal off Pagham Yacht club this morning; I queried if this could in fact have been the same animal, and if so which was correct, but I'm pleased to say I soon received some firm responses.... the Yacht club seal was a definite Grey, whilst the Bill one had a cute dog-like face and was a quite small female Common. So there we are, thanks for the replies guys, enough said.
I must however make comment on a recent bird - an Iberian Chiffchaff or possible Chiffchaff with atypical song - currently just off the Peninsula across the water at Sandy Point, (Hayling, Hant's). First reported as the former it has now been adjudged as the latter, mirroring the situation with the 'Iberian Chiff' at Apuldram which occurred in April 2012. Indeed could it even be the same returning bird? First found by Bernie Forbes and Dave Smith, the Apuldram bird was singing heartily and anyone present in those first few hours of its discovery was in no doubt of its identity as Iberian; it was therefore with some dismay that later (that evening) we learned that other respected observers recorded its song which had become erratic and it was soon dismissed as a Chiffchaff with atypical song. This surely failed to take into account the subtle differences in structure (bill/colouration etc) and initial song (identical to playback of Iberian) and the bird was assigned to history as a reject. I and others felt a sense of injustice, but with no other evidence little could be done, especially as there were several recordings of the atypical song but sadly none of the original Iberian song. So that was that - or was it? In short, things came to a head when several of us went to Spain on a birding trip to a site where Iberian Chiff's breed  - and guess what, one singing Iberian suddenly went into atypical song; we all looked at each other and said," Apuldram!!" So it was that we decided to make a belated submission to BBRC. We fully realised the committee would be likely to reject the record (no criticism intended here but with the differences in opinion they would likely opt for a justifiable 'Not Proven') - but we felt it important to at least formally document the event, hoping that in future the ID criteria for this subtle species might be reviewed, as some research indicates that Iberian Chiffs can adopt atypical song, especially when away from their breeding areas or when in company with Common Chiffchaffs. The Sandy Point bird is therefore of interest. Time will tell (OM).

Pagham Lagoon: The Iceland Gull was present  at 0730hrs before flying off towards the beach (per RBA), and it was back there again late morning, along with a Mediterranean Gull and about 30 Tufted Ducks. Also a Grey Seal was off the beach from the Yacht Club. (AH/CRJ/S&SaH)

Iceland Gull on Pagham Lagoon (AH)

Selsey Bill 0600 - 0900hrs: Cloud, showers and sun. Wind W/SW 4-5  (Obs: SH/JA/IP/AH)
Red-throated Diver - 1E, 1W

Great Northern Diver - 1E, 4 os
Great Crested Grebe - 1 os
Slavonian Grebe - 2 os flew off E
Brent Goose - 17E
Eider - 2E
Common Scoter - 8E
R/b Merganser - 4E, 8 os
Fulmar - 13W
Gannet - 1E

Sanderling - 25E
Kittiwake - 2W

Med Gull - 1E
Meadow Pipit  - 1N
(Also a Common Seal os)

North Wall: Pretty quiet again - a single Snipe, a Black-tailed Godwit, a Grey Heron, a couple of Reed Buntings and a squealing Water Rail was about it. (AH/CRJ)

 Common Snipe (above) & Grey Heron on the Breech Pool (AH)
Ivy Lake: A single Sand Martin over this morning, plus 2 singing Blackcaps, at least half a dozen singing Chiffchaffs and a Kingfisher. (AH/S&SaH)

Singing Chiffchaff at Ivy Lake (AH)

Church Norton: Two female Wheatears along the beach late this afternoon. Also four Red-breasted Mergansers in the harbour, but not a single bird on the sea at high tide. (AH) Earlier, SH walked from Selsey - Church Norton and logged much the same but also 10+ Chiffchaffs. 
Wheatear on the beach at Church Norton (AH)
Medmerry: Earnley to Bracklesham 16.00hrs (S & SaH)
Gadwall - 6,  Buzzard - 2,  Wheatear - 4 (3 males) and Yellowhammer - 1.

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