Tuesday, 12 August 2014

12th - 14th August 2014

Thursday 14th August: A bright but unsettled day, with a brisk WSW wind and intermittent heavy showers. The Long-tailed Skua continues to perform for its admirers, and the Cattle Egret has re-appeared on the farmland north of the harbour.
On a different note completely, the following will be of interest to all those who have watched at the Bill over the years, but especially those who did so in earlier times. I recently received a message from Bob Lord, formerly the Warden at Pagham Harbour and at that time a keen Bill-watcher and Selsey resident. The text is self-explanatory.... "Attached is a photo of Selsey, taken from a post card.  We were tidying a recently deceased aunt's things and found a post card we sent her in late 1979, just after I moved into Horsefield Road.  It was an old card then (the cross pointed out to aunty where our house was, although it wasn't actually there!!!).  Not sure of the date of the post card, but it looks to be late 1960's." I attach the photo below .........
Photo of Selsey Bill, date uncertain, probably mid to late 1960's (per RML). What a difference when compared to the reality of today. In the foreground/right the Pontins holiday camp dominates, whilst the foreground/left shows the Bill House and its extensive gardens of the time. Note  also the extensive greenery, scrub and undeveloped coastal strip that existed; this habitat accounted for many interesting birds at that time. Whilst a degree of change is inevitable, what price nature? I submit that the planning authorities have a great deal to answer for in destroying so much habitat and despoiling the town with so much development. If you're a town planner involved and you're reading this, hang your head in shame. (OM). (Note:this is a personal view and may not reflect the views of others).
Selsey Bill (0745-1015hrs): The Long-tailed Skua was still around, from when it appeared chasing terns at about 0900, until flying off towards Church Norton at 10.15am (perhaps looking a touch ragged this morning?) Over 100 Common Terns,  c.12 Sandwich and 2 Little Terns were still feeding offshore, plus a few distant Gannets, whilst a Little Egret was fishing along the shoreline, a Redshank briefly dropped in, a single Dunlin flew W and a Yellow Wagtail flew over. (OM/PC)

Little Egret and Long-tailed Skua at the Bill (OM)
Marsh Farm, Sidlesham: The Cattle Egret has re-surfaced, three fields east of its previous location, heading towards Fisher. (CRJ) It was still present in the general area at 1715, though had moved to about 400yds SSE of Marsh Farm and was not readily viewable from the main path (LGRE); it clearly moves around depending on where the cattle are.
Ferry Pool: This morning there were 8 Black-tailed Godwits, 6 Avocets (including the 4 juveniles) 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 59 Lapwing and 5 Teal on the pool, plus a Buzzard over, and 10+ Willow Warblers, 5 Whitethroats and 2 Blackcaps in the adjacent hedges. (SR/CRJ/AH) Late afternoon there were the same Black-tailed Godwits and Avocets, 1 LRP, but also 5 Ringed Plover, 1 Green Sandpiper and a Common Sandpiper (LGRE).
Willow Warbler by the Ferry (AH)
Church Norton: Proof this morning of the turning of the year, and that birds are constantly on the move, with the first two Spotted Flycatchers of the autumn, in the hedge behind the hide. Also two Sedge Warblers in the hedges, but rather fewer Whitethroats than yesterday and still very few waders in the harbour - the only ones of note were a couple of Whimbrel and twenty Black-tailed Godwits. Also a Painted Lady butterfly near the hide. (AH) The Long-tailed Skua duly appeared again on the beach near the first bungalow by mid-afternoon and remained a couple of hours whilst showing very well, before eventually flying off W (LGRE).
Spotted Flycatcher (above), Greenfinch & Sedge Warblers at Church Norton (AH)
Wednesday, 13th August: Another bright and breezy day, with the Long-tailed Skua still performing well at Selsey Bill....and Medmerry.
Selsey Bill: The Long-tailed Skua was still being very amenable, sitting on the beach and flying over people's heads, before eventually drifting off out to sea. The huge feeding tern flock of around 150 Common Terns with 4 or 5 Little Terns amongst them  over the shingle bar, is presumably the reason it has taken to the Bill!
Nothing moving offshore, bar a few distant feeding Sandwich Terns and the regular Common Scoters. (AH et al)
Long-tailed Skua (above) & Little and Common Terns at the Bill (AH)
 Below: close-up detail of the Long-tailed Skua (DM)
Church Norton: Not much change on recent days - still plenty of juvenile Whitethroats about, along with a few Lesser Whitethroats, Garden Warblers, Blackcaps and Willow Warblers in the bushes, a few Sandwich Terns offshore and in the harbour and three or four Whimbrel and twenty Black-tailed Godwits amongst the relatively few waders present. (AH)
Juvenile Whitethroat (above) & Blackcap at Church Norton (AH)
Ferry Pool: Quiet again - 2 juvenile Avocets, 7 Black-tailed Godwits, 25 Lapwing, 8 juvenile Shelduck and 12 Teal was it. (AH)
Nearly full-grown juvenile Shelduck on the Ferry (AH)

Chi GP's - Ivy Lake Complex: Ivy Lake - 2 Great Black-backed Gulls, 11 adult and 5 young Great Crested Grebes, 3 Sand Martins. Triangle Lake - 1 pair of Great Crested Grebes plus 2 young,  1 Kingfisher. Copse Lake - 1 pair of Great Crested Grebes plus 3 young, 10 Wiilow Warblers and 1 Chiffchaff. (CRJ)

Medmerry: A chilly start to the day with a strong westerly F5 wind. Most birds were keeping well out of sight, a few female/juvenile Wheatears being the only obvious migrants.  Ham: 4 Wheatears around the rubble heaps, 1 Buzzard, 2 Kestrels, a handful of Meadow Pipits and Linnets, 1 Whitethroat.  Across on the mudflats were at least 66 Ringed Plover, 27 Dunlin, and a Yellow-legged Gull in amongst the Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls.  Earnley Side: 3 Wheatears, 1 Skylark, c30 Swallows, 9 House Martins, 1 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, c40 Goldfinch.  Stilt (Flood) Pool: Almost empty!, just 2 Mute Swans, 2 Pied Wagtails, and the usual Mallards and Black-headed Gulls.  Feeding in the channel was a juvenile Avocet (SR).
From the eastern viewpoint at 13.30ish, the Long-tailed Skua flew in from the east (ie behind me) had a scoot round the breach area before heading ‘inland’ a little and settling on the water near one of the islands on the eastern side. Was still there when I left at about 13.40. Also there between 13.00 and 13.30, a juvenile Peregrine stirring things up (chased a tern out over the sea and then a dunlin over the intertidal), at least 25 Common Terns , 10 Little Terns and the odd Sandwich Tern, ca.30 Grey Plover, 30 Ringed Plover, 15 Dunlin. There were at least 2 Wheatears and ca.120 Linnets on sea wall nearby the viewpoint (PH).
This evening from the breach there were 4 Knot, all in fading summer-plumage, 40 Ringed Plover, 16 Grey Plover, 60 Dunlin and a solitary Little Tern, plus 3 Sand Martins and 4 Skylarks over the fields. (AH)
Knot (above), Grey Plover & Little Tern at Medmerry (AH)
Tuesday, 12th August: A bright and breezy day with a brisk wind WSW4-5 and the odd heavy shower. The combination of the Black-winged Stilts and the Long-tailed Skua in recent weeks has certainly generated interest in the Peninsula and has also been 'good for business' for blog site visits; thanks to all from AH and I for your favourable comments on our blog efforts (OM).
Selsey Bill: The Long-tailed Skua showed really well  from 8am, when it briefly dropped onto the Oval Field after chasing a tern, before settling on the sea. It disappeared 'up the High Street' a couple of times, but mostly it was either sitting on the beach, or chasing the large group of 100+ Common Terns that were feeding over the submerging spit, and was still about up to 10.20 at least. (There was absolutely nothing moving offshore, though.) (AH et al)
Long-tailed Skua at Selsey Bill (AH)
 Below 3: More pic's of the well-photo'd Long-tailed Skua at Selsey Bill (DM).

Church Norton: There were still around 30 Common Tern and 20 Sandwich Tern in the harbour, along with a Whimbrel and a summer-plumaged Grey Plover. Unfotunately for the 15-20 gathered bird-watchers who had trekked along the beach, the skua was at the Bill. Hopefully it is a creature of habit and will return there with the high tide! Sure enough it later reappeared on the beach a couple of times.......' the LTS arrived on the beach opposite the bungalow with the domed roof at 15.10, had a preen then settled down for a snooze.  Twenty plus birders gathered, all getting good close views.  It was still there when I left at 16.00' (SR). An early evening walk to Norton (from east Selsey) did not produce the skua or much else, but the following were noted: a Sparrowhawk, 4 Little and 2 Common Terns in the harbour, 5 Wheatears, 4 Chiffchaffs, 1 Swift and 12+ Swallows (SH). 
Ferry Pool: No sign of the Black-winged Stilts this morning. The family of five Avocets briefly dropped in and departed again (per JD), and otherwise there were just 25 Black-tailed Godwits, 40 Lapwing, 14 Teal and 8 juvenile Shelduck. (AH) On the way home we checked out the Ferry and found 2 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpipers and 5 Avocets. (BFF/DIS/DM).

North Wall: Still very breezy and showery; 39 Black-tailed Godwits on Breach Pool along with 6 Teal, 7 Little Egrets and some 70 Canada Geese that were on and around the Pool, plus 47 Curlew in the back field and 3 Wheatears along the Wall. A group of 6 Common Buzzards were above Honer Farm but moved off towards the east. The Little Grebe family were at Owl Water and the chicks now appear larger than the parents. Ducklings in the duck weed (JW).
Little Grebes at Owl Water, North Wall (JW)
Medmerry: We sat on the new viewing mound appreciating the newly installed benches with a stunning view over the saltmarsh towards the breach when the Long-tailed Skua flew right under our noses chasing terns over the tidal marsh. With the huge high tide the water was rushing in rapidly at the mouth of the breach, flooding extensively towards the new sea wall. On the high tide plenty of Common, Sandwich and Little Terns were busy feeding back and forth (BFF/DIS/DM)  

Panoramic view of the newly opened watchpoint at Medmerry this afternoon (DM)

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