Monday, 26 May 2014

26th - 28th May 2014

Wednesday, 28th May: Cloudy, damp, dull and quite cool, wind WNW4; a potentially unfavourable wind for sea-watching again, but we shall see if the reality proves otherwise. Meanwhile a brief admin update: in case you hadn't realised by now (and it appears some of you haven't yet sussed it!), we've adopted a colour code for the blog text, which seems to work, thus we have bright red for newly-found rares, orange for newly-found scarcities (and date headings), light blue for Selsey/Bill area, green for the Pagham Hbr area, dull pinky/red for Medmerry area and light purple for other areas including Fishbourne and the gravel pits. Easy!  On with today's news ....

Selsey Bill 0900-1130hrs: Cloudy, cool, WNW 4.  (Obs: C&ME/ME et al) A Storm Petrel west at 0940hrs was the highlight on an otherwise quiet watch (M. Eade)

Great Northern Diver - 2 os
Fulmar - 2E, 3W
Gannet - 7E, 17W
Storm Petrel - 1W 0940hrs Common Scoter - 70+  os
Little Tern - 4 os  

Razorbill - 1E, 1W   
Swift  - 4 p             
Additional watch: 1645 to 1800hrs:  (Obs: SH)
Great Northern Diver - 2 os
Fulmar - 1E, 1W

Gannet - 9E, 24W
Eider -  7 os
Common Scoter - 1E, 58 os

Ferry Pool: The sight of House Martins, Swifts and Swallows feeding over the pool seemed promising but most of the birds seen recently seemed to have left, including the Avocets.  Three Black-tailed Godwits, 1 Redshank, half a dozen Shelduck along with the 2 ducklings, 9 Coots and 2 young, a pair of Tufted Ducks, a handful of Lapwings, and a calling Cetti's Warbler was about it (SR).

Medmerry: The 24-hr watch on the Black-winged Stilts (and the Avocets) continues, and one of the potential threats - namely a Fox - was perusing the area today.

Highlights from Medmerry today: from the top - a Fox on the prowl, a Black-winged Stilt, an Avocet and a resting Swallow (D. Mason).
Tuesday, 27th May: Cloudy and dry with some brief sunnier periods, wind NW 4. The prospect of a fresh north-westerly did not fill me with joy as I reached the Bill this morning, anticipating a very slow and dull sea-watch, but in the end things turned out quite well, the highlight being 2 Storm Petrels (at least) lingering offshore for around 40 minutes. Bearing in mind one was also seen yesterday, it seems quite likely that there will be further occurrences, so perhaps the following info on today's sightings will be of interest....
I first picked up two birds close together at 0750hrs, at a distance estimated at 3/4 mile, in the general area of two fishing boats, whilst the tide was coming in (having just covered the shingle bars). Both were showing the distinctive fluttery flight just above the waves, stopping and jinking before flying quite quickly west, in and then out of view, but certainly giving glimpses of their white rump bands. After a short while this was repeated, then one bird overtook the other and continued west, the other apparently turning back or dropping on the water. The bird in view continued west again in and out of view as I managed to get SR (and later JD) to see it, passing quite close to a fishing boat. At this range the upperparts looked black, but I clearly saw the white rump band, which is somewhat unusual here due to the low sea-level watchpoint. On one occasion there was also a hint of a paler underwing flash as the bird stuttered in flight before moving on, but I cannot be more precise. I saw at least one bird on several occasions up to 0830hrs, the last time as it passed behind a fishing boat when it did not then re-appear. There may or may not have been more than two birds involved, but two is the minimum. As the tide came in things went quiet and they were not re-sighted by 1030hrs. It is not clear whether the state of tide/shingle bars or fishing boats had any bearing  on things, but it's possible (OM).

Selsey Bill (0650-1030hrs): Dry, cloud, some sun, wind NW 3-4. 
Great Northern Diver - 2 os
Fulmar - 2E, 4W
Gannet - 2E, 4W
Storm Petrel - 2 os/W (0750-0830hrs, see above)
Dunlin - 2E
Sanderling - 6E
Common Scoter - 29E, 85 os
Little Tern - 2 os
Common Tern - 30 os
C/A Tern - 11E
Sandwich Tern - 7 os, drifted off E
Arctic Skua - 1E
Auk sp - 2W
Swift - 4 p
At last! At the Bill the mass of shingle in front of the gardens, dumped there by the winter storms, has finally been cleared to reveal the path again and make access a whole lot easier (OM).

Selsey Bill selection...(top two) which-way-up Sandwich Tern (what a picture!) and in normal flight mode, (bottom two) Common Tern and House Sparrow (D. Mason)

Ferry Pool: Early this morning there were 4 Avocets, 2 Gadwall and a Teal amongst the usual Shelduck and wildfowl (OM). Later the Avocet count had risen to 6, plus many Swifts overhead, and a singing male Reed Bunting (SR).
Church Norton was quiet again on the high tide; a dozen or more Common Terns were present with the nesting Black-headed Gulls on Tern Island, with 2 Sandwich Terns and a Whimbrel nearby, whilst 2 Great Crested Grebes were in the channel, a Song Thrush was belting it out and 3 each of Blackcap and Whitethroat were also singing (OM).

Song Thrush, Church Norton (D. Mason)

Sidlesham: A late report of a Turtle Dove in the observer's garden on 26th May (no other details, per P. Driscoll, SOS website)
Chi GP's: Ivy Lake: Seven Common Terns and 30 Swifts were present over the lake at noon, but little else save for a couple of Blackcaps and a Cetti's Warbler (OM).
Medmerry: East side banks from caravan park: Highlight was undoubtedly a Hobby being hotly pursued by a Lapwing; also 1 Buzzard, 1 Corn Bunting, 2 Grey Plovers in full summer plumage, 15 Sanderling, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 9 Shelducks, 5 Little Egrets, 8 Swifts, 3 Swallows, 3 Skylarks, 1 Reed Bunting, 1 Whitethroat and 1 Pied Wagtail (SR). Easton Pools
this evening (during a Stilt-watch): A Hobby, 1 Cuckoo, a Little Owl, 15 Ringed Plovers, 2 Little Ringed Plovers and a Corn Bunting (PB/SH).
Monday, 26th May: What a difference a few hours can make; yesterday evening I was enjoying a calm, clear and starlit evening listening to Nightjars on a West Sussex common, with every expectation of waking to a fine Bank Holiday morning. But come the dawn, oh dear, things obviously changed overnight to give cool, overcast and rainy conditions with a brisk northerly wind ... so much for my weather forecast, and it didn't improve all day! Meanwhile a glance at the official forecast for the next few days does not make good reading for the regular sea-watchers, with lots of north and west in the wind predicted, so presumably little chance of any Poms appearing. The joint leaders in the Pom challenge - JA and OM - are currently stuck on 77 apiece, so one bird could now win it before the month  (and the challenge) expires... or will it just fizzle out into a draw! We shall soon know, but  for the record my bet is that there will be joint title holders again. Lastly, AH is away for a few days, so if anyone is able to take a few pics in his absence I would be grateful... or you'll have to put up with mine (OM).

Selsey Bill 0540 to 0945hrs:  Cloud, rain/showers, wind N/NE 4  (Obs: SH/JA). Predictably little passage given the conditions, but at this time of year at the Bill (and into June) there is always the chance of a Storm Petrel appearing, and bang on cue one was logged today by two lucky observers.
Great Northern Diver - 4 os
Black-throated Diver - 1E
Great Crested Grebe - 1E, 1W
Fulmar - 1E, 1W
Storm Petrel - 1W, settled on sea (0855hrs)
Gannet - 45E, 14W
Common Scoter - 9E, 65os
Whimbrel - 1E
Turnstone - 2E
Sanderling - 5 ob
Arctic Skua - 1W
Little Tern - 7E, 8 os
Common Tern - 15E, 50 os
C/A Tern - 11E
Arctic tern - 1 os
Sandwich Tern - 6E, 15 os
Auk sp - 3W
Additional watch 1600-1800hrs: Rainy. (Obs: SH)
Great Northern Diver - 1 os
Gannet - 11E, 1W
Fulmar - 2E
Eider - 8 os
Shelduck - 4W
Common Scoter - 60 os
Little Tern - 8 os
Common Tern - 30 os, gradually drifted off E
Kittiwake - 1W
Swallow - 1N

Selsey East beach - Church Norton: A late morning walk produced a Hobby (Park Farm), an Arctic Skua W offshore, 2 Cuckoos and 4 Reed Buntings at the Severals (S&SaH).
Ferry Pool: 4 Avocets busily feeding, 16 Black-tailed Godwits snoozing, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Redshank, a dozen Shelduck with 2 ducklings at the back of the pool, 3 Tufted Ducks and a Gadwall. One of the Coots was feeding a tiny chick, also there must have been at least 20 Swallows feeding just above the water (SR).
Church Norton:  Sadly the hide has been recently  vandalised (see picture); hopefully it will soon be repaired. Two Cuckoos were calling from different directions and a number of Chiffchaffs along the path.   In the harbour 2 mating Oystercatchers, 3 Great Crested Grebes, 9 Shelducks, 6 Curlew, c40 Dunlin, 4 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 6 Swallows, most of the Gulls and Terns were roosting out of sight but 2 Little Terns were clearly visible, and a few Sandwich and Common Terns rested on the edge of Tern Island.
Church Norton hide after recent vandalism (SR).

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