Wednesday, 22 October 2014

22nd - 24th October 2014

Friday, 24th October: A grey and breezy start before brightening up considerably - totally contrary to the weather forecast of a thoroughly wet day - and in fact the rain stayed away all morning before it became eventually overcast early afternoon and some patchy light drizzle began. The wind was a fairly light to moderate SW3, but the passage of skuas and Kittiwakes continued from where it had left off yesterday....
Selsey Bill (0745-1415hrs): (Obs: AGB/OM/AH). A steady stream of Kittiwakes went west this morning, often in the company of Common and Mediterranean Gulls, and with them were at least 6 juvenile Pomarine Skuas, 10 juvenile Arctic Skuas (with 2 east also) and another 5 unidentified skua 'spp.' Also the first Great Northern Diver appeared offshore, with 3-4 Eider and some Common Scoter, whilst there was a continual, if modest, movement of Brent Geese west and a few Swallows and Skylarks were seen heading out to sea. Much of the action occurred before 1000hrs, but I managed to stay the course for a six and a half hour watch, by which time passage had died (OM). Full log below .............
Great Northern Diver - 1 os
Red-throated Diver - 1E, 2W
Great Crested Grebe - 1W
Gannet - 3E, 66W
Brent Goose - 289W
Shelduck - 4W
Eider - 3+ os
Common Scoter - 14 os, with some birds (presumed same) moving E & W
R/b Merganser - 3W
Dunlin - 4W
Turnstone - 35 ob
Grey Plover - 90W
Arctic Skua - 2E, 10W (all probably juvs)
Pomarine Skua - 6W (juvs)
Skua Sp - 5W
Kittiwake - 60E, 220W (inc. large flock os which eventually moved W).
Common Gull - 30+ W
Med Gull - 70 os, with flocks (presumed same) moving E & W
Great Black-backed Gull - 34W
Guillemot - 3W
Razorbill - 3W
Auk sp - 7W
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1W high over Oval field
Swallow - 12 SW
Skylark - 10 SW
Juvenile Pomarine Skuas (above), Kittiwake & Brent Geese passing the Bill (AH)
Ferry Pool: The 4 Green Sandpipers were still present this morning, along with 7 Avocets, 16 Shoveler and 40 Lapwing. (AH)
Green Sandpipers on the Ferry (AH)
Medmerry: This morning an Arctic Skua went east over the 'Stilt' Pool. (PH)
This evening a Little Owl was calling around the buildings at Easton Farm. (AH)
North Wall: A Kingfisher and Little Grebe on White's Creek along with an assorted cast of Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Curlew, Dunlin and Lapwing. The Spoonbill was further out in the Harbour. Along the wall at least 6 Common Stonechats, 9 Reed Buntings and 3 calling Cetti's Warblers, whilst 7 Yellowhammers at Owl Water was a bonus. Across the back fields I estimated that there were up to 700 Corvids, mainly Rooks but at least 200 Jackdaws. (JDW).

Little Egret and Jackdaw gathering at the North Fields (JDW)
Thursday, 23rd October: A real gloomy autumnal day, though mild, with periods of light rain and drizzle. The wind had abated somewhat, but by afternoon there was a fresh SW 4 to 5 blowing again. We start with a public service announcement for anyone visiting the North Wall over the next few weeks.... be careful when driving/parking in Church Lane! Basically there are some major works going on which involves tractors and lorries moving tons of soil in Slipe Field; this has made pedestrian access there impossible and it seems the footpath is closed. Heavy lorries are thundering down Church Lane but have to go to the far end to do a three point turn... passing perilously close at times to the parked cars in the layby there, and there are inevitable delays whilst the lorries unload. One other unfortunate spin-off is that the local dog-walkers cannot now use Slipe Field; if this morning is anything to go by most of them seem to now be using the North Wall. 
Birding highlights today were bagged by those who stayed long enough at the Bill, for after a slow start reports were received of a flurry of activity including Kittiwakes and 4 Pomarine Skuas, with a Balearic Shearwater and some Arctic Skuas late in the day. (OM)

Ferry Pool: There were 4 Green Sandpipers at the back of the pool this morning, along with 7 Avocets, 60 Lapwing and 18 Shoveler. (AH)

Selsey Bill: Around 15 Kittiwakes, a Pintail and a Razorbill going west were among the birds seen this early morning. (JD/DS). Later the watch became far more productive...........
0810 - 1345hrs. (Obs: C&ME, et al)
Red-throated Diver - 2E, 1W
Gannet - 2E 16W
Brent Goose - 78W
Shelduck - 17W
Eider - 3 os, 8W
Red-breasted Merganser - 14W
Common Scoter - 41 os
Tufted Duck - 1W
Pintail - 1W
Wigeon - 4W
Dunlin - 17W
Pomarine Skua - 4 W (all juv's)
Skua sp - 1W
Kittiwake - 163W
Common Gull - 25W
Med Gull - 9W
Razorbill - 1E, 9W
Black Redstart   1 - by dog bin!
Chiffchaff  - 1 gardens
(1725-1810) (SH)
Balearic Shearwater - 1W along 'Mile Basket line'
Brent Goose - 196W
Eider - 3os
Arctic Skua - 5W & further 5 lingering offshore chasing gulls
Pomarine Skua  -1W, well inside mile basket line, & 2 distant birds that were 'possibles'
Mediterranean Gull - 2W
Church Norton: Both the Spoonbill and the Ruddy Shelduck flew away west along the Ferry Channel as the tide rose, whilst there were also 2 Spotted Redshanks there and 4 Swallows over. Also seen along the west side were 8 Reed Buntings, 20 Skylarks, 80 Linnets, a Buzzard, a Peregrine and a Sparrowhawk.
There were plenty of Brent Geese in the harbour, with several flocks heading on westwards, though waders were hard to see on the high tide, bar 2 or 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, 20 Grey Plover and 50+ Redshank.
A group of 3 Red-breasted Mergansers and singles of  Common Scoter and Great Crested Grebe headed west offshore, with 4 of the latter on the sea, but there was very little to be seen along the beach save a couple of Skylarks and 50+ Goldfinch moving about. (AH)

 Spoonbill (above), Ruddy and Common Shelducks, Grey Plover & Buzzard at Church Norton (AH)

North Wall: A total of 11 Spotted Redshanks in the harbour was noteworthy. Also 3 Stonechats and half a dozen Chiffchaffs were along the wall, 3 Snipe were on the Breach Pool, a Buzzard went over and 70 Black-tailed Godwits and 100 Golden Plover were in the White's Creek area. (OM/CRJ) Further along the Creek on the east side were 2 more Chiffchaffs and a couple of Goldcrests and c.40 Brent Geese, the latter apparently comprising a number of family parties. I haven't seen any big numbers of Brent thus far, but those flocks I have seen seem to contain a healthy proportion of juveniles, presumably indicating a good breeding season (OM).

 Family parties of Brent Geese on the east side; above adult (swimming) with 3 juv's, and below adults (in water) with 2 juv's (centre, on mud). (OM)

Wednesday, 22nd October: Another bright and breezy day and much cooler than of late, with a brisk north-westerly wind..... never the best for any sea movement in our part of the world! As it turns out, the ubiquitous Woodpigeon probably stole the show this morning!

Selsey Bill (0800-1030hrs):  Sunny with light cloud, wind WNW 4. (Obs: C&ME/OM). Unsurprisingly, given the wind direction, there was not much activity offshore, though there was a big south-westerly passage of Wood Pigeons, many of the birds arriving in large flocks, then swirling around for a while before heading S/SW out to sea.
Brent Goose - 75W
Eider - 1 os
R/b Merganser - 6W
Woodpigeon - 2,700 out SW or W
Stock Dove - 38 SW
Med Gull - 3 os
Swallow - 2W
Pied/alba Wagtail - 8W
Meadow Pipit - 30W
Skylark - 2W
Linnet - 50W
Goldfinch - 420W
Jay - 1W

Selsey area: I decided to work the local patches of habitat in the area this morning but in truth it was slow going and I drew a blank in several places. Those sites worthy of a mention were: Drift Lane marsh where 11 Snipe were on the flooded marsh and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the sallows; Warner Lane paddocks where 7 Stonechats and a Chiffchaff were present and Northcommon Farm where just a single Chiffchaff and 2 Goldcrests were in the trees and 15 Curlews feeding on the damp fields (OM).
Curlews feeding in the fields at Northcommon Farm (OM).
West side: Two Short-eared Owls were seen (flushed from grass) by a visiting birder mid-morning on the west side path. At about 14.00hrs I watched a tremendous Peregrine chase – it failed to catch a small wader (Dunlin?) over the middle of the harbour, but it pursued it all over the place for about 2 mins, culminating in it diving repeatedly at a patch of saltmarsh where the wader had hidden (PH).
North Wall area: There was a big movement of Wood Pigeons here, too, with at least 1000 birds over west, with 100+ Stock Doves amongst them. Along the wall there were a pair of Stonechats, a Rock Pipit, 6 Reed Buntings and several calling Cetti's Warblers, whilst on the Breach Pool there were 3 Snipe (with 2 more over), 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Little Grebes and 20 Teal.
Not much in White's Creek, bar 100+ Wigeon and 60 Black-tailed Godwits, but in the wider harbour the Spoonbill was again roosting out in the middle, a Peregrine went over a couple of times, putting up a Greenshank on the second occasion, and 30+ Golden Plovers went up with 200+ Lapwing. There were also 200+ Brent Geese scattered about, with more appearing from the east as the tide rose, and there appear to be reasonable numbers of juveniles again this autumn. (AH)
Stonechats along the North Wall (above), Brent Goose family & Wigeon in White's Creek (AH)


Pagham Lagoon: There were at least 40 Little Grebes and 8 Great Crested Grebes on the water this morning, along with 30 Brent Geese, 4 Wigeon and 20 Tufted Ducks, and a Redshank was along the edge. (AH)


Little Grebe (above) & Redshank on Pagham Lagoon (AH)

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