Monday, 4 August 2014

4th - 6th August 2014

Wednesday, 6th August: Some welcome rain overnight (for the gardeners amongst us at least) but it amounted to little and by morning the clouds were breaking up to give sunny periods. Both the Long-tailed Skua and the Cattle Egret were present again this morning ...details below.
Church Norton: The Long-tailed Skua was still present this morning - following the same routine of sitting offshore, before a brief foray into the harbour, harrassing the terns offshore and then drifting off towards Selsey.
Otherwise it was more of the same - still quiet in the bushes bar a few Whitethroats and Blackcaps, at least 5 Whimbrel and a dozen each of Sandwich and Common Terns in the harbour (and similar numbers of terns offshore), and a Wheatear on the concrete blocks. (AH)
Juvenile Whitethroat at Church Norton (AH)
Marsh farm, North Fields: The Cattle Egret was again present at 0900hrs in the cattle field behind the milking parlour, but later was not present there after the cattle went in for milking (SR). It can disappear for periods of time, but patience and checking the livestock fields in the area should eventually produce results (OM). The Cattle Egret had re-appeared by early afternoon and a juv Cuckoo was also present in the area (BI).

Cattle Egret in the cattle field at Marsh Farm (AB)

Cattle Egret and juv Cuckoo, Marsh Farm, Sidlesham (BI). 
Selsey Bill: A brief early look failed to produce the skua (!) and not much else was moving; there 5 Eiders and 80+ Common Scoter on the sea to the west and a few Sandwich and Common Terns feeding offshore. (AH)
17.00 to 18.45 (SH) -
Gannet -  4E, 2W
Eider - 9os
Common Scoter  - 2os, 1W
Ringed plover - 3W
Turnstone - 5ob
Mediterranean Gull - 7W
Kittiwake - 1W
Sandwich Tern - 14W
Common Tern - 33W
Little tern - 1W
Sand Martin - 11W
Ferry Pool: Still quiet - highlights were 4 Common Sandpipers, 1 Dunlin, 6 Black-tailed Godwits, 4 Teal and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull. (AH)
Juvenile Mediterranean Gull with Black-headed Gulls (above) & Common Sandpiper on the Ferry (AH)

Medmerry: One, possibly 2, Wood Sandpipers late afternoon on the West side, seaward of the sea wall (PH)
Tuesday, 5th August: Another nice day, but likely to deteriorate by this evening. The Long-tailed Skua was present again and showing well early on to a small gathering of observers but became more elusive as the crowd of watchers grew, though it did perform again in the afternoon. Meanwhile a Cattle Egret was reported at Marsh Farm, Sidlesham. As a consequence, a fair selection of active birders from Sussex and beyond were present on the peninsula today.......
Church Norton: The Long-tailed Skua was present here, and briefly also at Selsey Bill, up till around 7.30am, when it apparently dropped onto the sea. A distant skua heading east later was thought to be an Arctic, and it remained out of view till around 1300, when it re-appeared offshore and continued to intermittently show quite well until around 6pm when it headed off west again. (AB/BI/SR/CRJ et al) Those observers (including me) who missed the skua this evening by arriving just too late had few compensations, other than good company and a late flurry of c.200 Med Gulls - most of which settled on the sea or turned into the harbour (OM).

Long-tailed Skua (ad), Selsey Bill. The above five images were captured by a lucky Ads Bowley as the bird flew inland and even over the Bill House this morning. Note the broken tail feathers!

Marsh Farm, Sidlesham: A Cattle Egret was reported on Birdguides as present for its fifth day, and though we could not find it in an initial search, CRJ relocated it back in the cattle-field just to the north of the dairy, where it had originally been reported, and it was present there for much of the day (AH/OM et al)
Cattle Egret in flight, Marsh Farm, Sidlesham (OM)
Cattle Egret at Marsh Farm, Sidlesham (AH)
(above) Early morning observers at Church Norton (SR) 
...and three wise men came from the east! It was good to see some of the East Sussex boys this morning, including a camera-shy Ian 'Cyclops' Barnard (centre) with Bob Self and Matt Eade (Seaford) to his right, and Andy House behind them (wearing cap). Behind Ian (with bunny ears!) is Gary Bagnell... and far right is Ads Bowley (OM).

Welcome back Rich! Our old friend and former Selsey stalwart Richard Prior (left) makes a visit from France, and is greeted by Ads Bowley, who obviously posed the photo for maximum publicity! An Ads ad - nice one, but it will cost you! (AB).
Selsey Bill: 17.10 to 19.20 (Obs: SH)
Fulmar - 1W
Gannet - 2W, 1E
Common Scoter - 4W

Sanderling - 2W
Turnstone - 8W, 4ob
Arctic Skua - 2W one light phase one dark phase together
Mediterranean Gull - 7W
Common Tern - 49 os
Sandwich Tern - 52 os
Little Tern - 3W
Swift  - 2 p

North Wall: A flock of around 40 Goldfinches at Welbourne that included several juveniles begging food. Smaller groups along the Wall. On the Breech Pool were 93 Black-tailed Godwits, 104 Canada Geese, 4 Teal, 2 Little Egrets and 2 Common Terns. 43 Curlews in the back field. A solitary Whimbrel was at the Owl Copse end calling throughout its stay. Little Grebes were very noisy and active on Owl Water, I counted 5 and this included a nearly fully fledged juvenile. (JW)

Little Grebes (above) & Whimbrel from the North Wall (JW)

Monday, 4th August: Warm, dry and sunny again with a light westerly-based wind; the fine summer weather in the south continues although it is set to break down by the weekend. However, as so often, the Peninsula's micro-climate has seen previous forecasts of rain largely unfulfilled, so we will have to wait and see how things actually do develop.
Late news from Church Norton - it looks as if the skua that has been lingering for the last couple of days is a Long-tailed Skua....
Church Norton: The skua that has been around for the last couple of days was present again this evening, mostly offshore with one brief venture into the harbour. I watched it with S&SaH for a while and managed to get a few less distant pictures of it. Looking through them this evening, alarm bells started to ring, particularly after an e-mail this morning from David Cooper who had seen something in the ridiculously distant photo from yesterday to get him considering the possibility. After some consultation with OM this evening we consider it is an adult Long-tailed  so have decided to publish and be damned!
It obviously does not have a very long tail, but all the other features seem to suggest that species - including the lack of white wing-flashes at the primary bases, the fawny grey underparts blending into the white on the breast with lack of notable contrast, the lack of any collar and the crisply demarcated black cap. Also it seems a little slighter, and interestingly, spent some of its time dip-feeding alongside the mixed flock of gulls and terns. (AH)

Adult Long-tailed Skua off Church Norton (AH)


Also this evening a juvenile Kittiwake was in amongst the terns - c30 Sandwich Terns, c20 Common Terns and 4 Little Terns in the harbour and offshore, and at least 5 juvenile Mediterranean Gulls were in the feeding flock. (AH/S&SaH)

The harbour was looking very picturesque this morning, but the bird-watching was slow. In the harbour there were still around 20 each of Common and Sandwich Terns, plus 2 Little Terns, 4 Whimbrel and 100 Dunlin, and the Peregrine briefly took to the air to disturb them all.
Very little in the bushes - about half a dozen each of Blackcap and Whitethroat, all seemingly juveniles, was all I could find. (AH)
The harbour, with the Downs behind, from the spit (AH) 
Juvenile Blackcap (above) and juvenile Whitethroat at Church Norton (AH)
Ferry Pool: Very quiet - 2 Common Sandpipers, 1 Dunlin, 22 Lapwings, 2 Teal and 140 Black-headed Gulls were the sum total. (AH)
Common Sandpiper (above) & Lapwing and Dunlin on the Ferry (AH)

Medmerry: Jubilant at mastering my new bike I set off for Medmerry, though  all was seasonably quiet on the bird-front upon my arrival:
Ham Viewpoint (now open and it has a bench) - Swallow c75, Sand Martin c25, Linnet c100, Goldfinch c50, Corn Bunting 1, Reed Bunting 1, Green Woodpecker 1, Grey Plover 53, Curlew 1, Ringed Plover 5, Dunlin 28, Black-tailed Godwit 2, Kestrel 1 and Whitethroat 3.
Earnley Side - Yellowhammer 2, Pied Wagtail 3, Buzzard 1, Chiffchaff 2, Linnet c40, Whitethroat 2, Goldfinch c40, Wheatear (female/juvenile) 2. On the Flood Pool (Stilt Pool) were - Common Sandpiper 1, Dunlin 15, Little Egret 1, Canada Goose 48, Greylag Goose 2, Pied Wagtail 3, House Martin 22, Swallow 35, Avocet 1, Linnet c50 and Goldfinch c50 (SR).

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