Sunday, 4 May 2014

4th - 6th May 2014

Tuesday, 6th May: After the Bank Holiday fun, back to reality today! A few Arctic Skuas and a Velvet Scoter past the Bill, but otherwise what would be expected for a bright westerly......meanwhile, I have now updated yesterday's blog with some more Pom Skua information; sorry for the delay but I'm sure you can understand the reasons! (OM).

Selsey Bill (0515-1100hrs): Early rain and cloud, giving way to a bright sunny morning, with a brisk and fairly cool wind, WSW 5. (Obs: PB/GJ/OM/AH/CRJ/SR et al). Five Arctic Skuas, a Velvet Scoter among a few Common Scoter, an incoming Hobby and Swifts and Swallows were about the best on offer this morning. Full log below...
Great Northern Diver - 1E, 1 os
Diver sp - 1E
Fulmar - 2E, 5W
Gannet - 39E, 61W
Common Scoter - 85E
Velvet Scoter - 1E
Bar-tailed Godwit - 1W
Whimbrel - 4W
Hobby - 1N
Razorbill - 1E, 3W
Auk sp - 17E, 8W
Little Tern - 3E
C/A Tern - 35E
Sandwich Tern - 29E
Arctic Skua - 5E
Little Gull - 1E
Kittiwake - 4E
Med Gull - 1E
Wheatear - 3N
Swift - 13N
Swallow - 96N
House Martin - 6N

Ferry Pool: The drake Garganey was still lurking at the back this morning, along with a Common Sandpiper and (first thing only) a Whimbrel. There were also 93 Black-tailed Godwits and 6 Gadwall present. (IL/AH)

Church Norton: Approximately 22 Grey Plover, 16 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Whimbrel, 3 Knot and 75 Dunlin in the harbour, though the only warblers present - a few Blackcaps, Whitethroats and Chiffchaffs - all appeared to be settled in rather than in transit. (AH)
Grey Plovers (above) & Whitethroat at Church Norton (AH)
North Wall: After the Lord Mayor's Show!. Really quiet around here. The muddy field north of the stables continues to disappoint; just 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Little Ringed Plover and 3 Lapwing this morning with 22 Mute Swans feeding close by. I was watched closely by a young stag Roe Deer. On the Breech Pool a few Tufted Duck and a pair of Great Crested Grebes. A Grey Heron sat nearby digesting a large eel that it had just swallowed. A Cuckoo calling at Marsh Farm. Yellowhammers feeding young near Honer Farm. Cetti's Warblers feeding young along the Wall. The Little Grebes and chick are doing well at Owl Copse. (JW).
 Grey Heron with bulging crop (above) and Yellowhammer at Honer farm (JW)
Chichester Gravel Pits: No sign of any Black Terns or Little Gulls this morning. On Ivy Lake sixteen Common Terns, including at least one that looked promising for an Arctic Tern, though distance & light made viewing difficult. Also present were a singing Sedge Warbler, several Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, a Cetti's Warbler and 20+ Swifts overhead. On Westhampnett Pit there were a further 24 Common Terns. (AH)
Bank Holiday Monday, 5th May: An undeniably happy Monday for the blog! At long last the Poms arrived - and how -  with a total of 74 by 7pm; not a day record, but certainly in the top two or three days ever. It was surely overdue, and although the fresh south-east wind doubtless contributed to today's excellent totals, perhaps the nicest thing was that there were so many observers assembled to witness the event, and on a Bank Holiday too! And as observers came and went through the day, all eventually departed with a smile. This is surely what south coast sea-watching in spring is all about.   

Selsey Bill (0500-1930hrs): Dry, sunny, SE3-4; becoming hazy and cloudy later. Many obs. An excellent day's sea-watching, with some observers putting in a 12-14 hour shift. Among species' totals were 74 Pomarine Skuas, 20 Arctic Skuas, 675+ Common Scoter, a Velvet Scoter, 6 Black Terns, 4 Little Gulls, in excess of 400 'Commic' Terns (the latter mostly late in the day), 59 Little and 200+ Sandwich Terns. The other feature of today was just how close some of the skuas were, giving all the assembled watchers fantastic views of these charismatic birds. The full log is not included in order to give the focus of attention to the Poms, but for those interested the biggest flock today was one of 15 birds, followed by another of 10, one of 9, one of 7, several 4's, a 3, then ones and twos. For the record, the biggest day total of Poms ever at the Bill was 107 on Friday, 2nd May 1997, when the largest flock was 25 and my personal day total was 77, (sorry for the personal trumpet-blowing), so today's total of 74 ran it mighty close and was certainly a day to remember! Finally, well done to Justin for so ably keeping the log on a very long day, and thanks to all who became part of the team and contributed throughout.(OM).
Flocks of Pomarine Skuas passing the Bill (top 3 PM, below AH)

More Poms including a dark-phase bird (below) (OM)
Arctic Skuas passing the Bill (above AH, centre OM, below PM)

Little Tern (below) at the Bill (AH)

You don't have to get that close to see them Justin! (OM)
Pagham HarbourUnderstandably coverage was limited away from the Bill today, but Birdguides reported an Osprey over the harbour this afternoon, and SR did a quick recce of the Ferry Pool this morning, finding the drake Garganey still at the back of the pool, 22 Black-tailed Godwits which  flew in, 3 Shoveler, 6 Shelduck, 4 Tufted Duck, 2 Mute Swans, 1 Grey Heron, and plenty of Coots, one with newly hatched young. (AH)

Chichester Gravel Pits: Various reports today per Birdguides of 2 Black Terns, an Arctic Tern and a first-summer Little Gull present during the day. (AH)

Sunday, 4th May: Another bright early morning with light southerly winds. Passage was limited but notably better than yesterday, though yet again it died away late morning after an encouraging start which included a Pom Skua.

Selsey Bill (0500 - 1400hrs): Dry, mainly sunny, some cloud. Wind light S/SSE. Many obs. A very early Pomarine Skua started the morning well for those present, and there was a steady eastward movement of Common Scoters (over 500), with 3 Arctic Skuas and a Hobby in off the sea being the other highlights. Passage died away after about 1100 by which time there were few observers still present (OM).Log below:
Great Northern Diver - 8 os
Red-throated Diver - 3E
Diver sp - 3E
Great Crested Grebe - 5E
Manx Shearwater - 1W
Fulmar - 3E, 5W
Gannet - 103E, 39W
Eider - 12E, 1os
Shelduck - the regular 2 again present
R/b Merganser - 6E
Common Scoter - 527E
Whimbrel - 19E
Bar-tailed Godwit - 6E
Sanderling - 4E
Dunlin - 1E
Razorbill - 6W
Auk sp - 1E, 9W
Ringed Plover - 1E
Hobby - 1N
Arctic Skua - 3E
Pomarine Skua - 1E (l/p 0630hrs)
Little Tern - 25 os, all gradually drifted E
Common Tern - 37E
C/A Tern - 45 os, gradually drifted away E / NE (most appeared Common)
Sandwich Tern - 58E
Kittiwake - 1W
Swallow - 22N
Whinchat - 1 gardens
Whitethroat - 1 gardens

Three Sanderling and a Dunlin (right) on the beach at the Bill, before heading east (OM)
Fulmar off the Bill (PM)
Additional seawatch: 16.00 to 18.00 (SH/GH/AH)
Auk sp 1e
Red-throated Diver - 1E

Great Northern Diver - 1os
Great Crested Grebe - 1os
Gannet - 8E 3W 1 os
Eider - 4W 1os
Whimbrel - 1W
Sandwich Tern - 11E
Common Tern - 2E

Ferry Pool: A surprise this morning - not one, but two drake Garganey at the back! Also half a dozen Gadwall still, 75 Black-tailed Godwits dropped and a Cuckoo was calling distantly. (AH)

Drake Garganeys on the Ferry (AH)
Medmerry: Earnley - Bracklesham - At least 8 Avocets have taken up residence; also 2 Little Ringed Plovers there, plus numerous Whitethroats, several singing Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, 2 Sedge Warblers and a Reed Bunting. Around the various pools were a Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel, 30+ Shelduck, 12 Tufted Duck and a Gadwall. (AH/S&SaH/PB)
Avocets (above), Little Ringed Plover & Skylark at Medmerry (AH)

Church Norton: Early evening - 2 Knot, 20 Bar-tailed Godwit, 15 Whimbrel, 85 Black-tailed Godwit, c150 Dunlin, 4 Grey Plover and 4 Little Terns in the harbour, and a Cuckoo flew over. (AH)
Whimbrel at Church Norton (AH)

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