Monday, 30 March 2015

30th - 31st March 2015

Tuesday, 31st March: More like winter than spring, with a howling, cold north-westerly gusting to gale force, heavy cloud with brighter interludes and the risk of heavy showers - not the most enticing of conditions then for birds and birders alike...!

Selsey Bill (0700-0900hrs): Cloud/sun, WNW6-7 (Obs: CRJ/GH/AH)  About as promising as one might expect in the conditions - almost nothing moving, but still two or three Great Northern Divers, a Slavonian Grebe and the flock of Common Scoter offshore, and, in Bill terms at least, the rarest bird of the day was a Canada Goose west! Full log below... (CRJ/GH/AH)
Great Northern Diver - 3os 
Slavonian Grebe - 1 os
Gannet - 14E, 3W
Fulmar - 3W 
Canada Goose - 1 from N ? off W  
Brent Goose - 31E 
Common Scoter - 16 os 
Eider - 1 os 
Red-breasted Merganser - 20W
Curlew - 1W
 Bar-tailed Godwit - 3W

(0945-1315) Highlight was two Sand Martinsin off the sea at 11.24. (C&ME)
Red-throated Diver - 1E
Gannet - 4E, 1W
Red-breasted Merganser - 6W
Sand Martin - 2N
Meadow Pipit - 3N

Canada Goose past the Bill (AH)

Chichester GPs: Ivy Lake - The unreasonably elusive female Red-crested Pochard put in an appearance at the back of Ivy Lake this afternoon - its first sighting in well over a month. Also, there were three Sand Martins over the lake. (AB)

Church Norton: A Sandwich Tern was roosting near Tern Island, a pair of Pintail were in the harbour and a Red-breasted Merganser was offshore, but otherwise it was the usual Grey Plovers and Curlews, plus a few Black-tailed Godwits around the mud, plus a few Chiffchaffs along the hedges. (AH/CRJ)

Sandwich Tern (above) Pintails & Teal at Church Norton (AH)

Ferry Pool: There were eight Avocets this morning, plus a dozen Lapwing, 40 Shoveler and 20 Wigeon. (AH)

Monday, 30th March: The month is determined to go out on a low note - still a cold WNW wind and little change on the bird front, though at least there was a bit of sunshine this morning..... And, at last, the first Swallows and Sand Martin this afternoon....
Selsey Bill (0740-1230hrs)Sunny, cool, WNW 5-7 decreasing later. There were a few Gannets moving this morning, and in excess of 25 Common Scoters and a couple of Great Northern Divers offshore, but still no proper passage except some Meadow Pipits arriving. Full log below.... (Obs: OM/GH/C&ME/AH et al)
Red-throated Diver - 2E
Great Northern Diver - 2os
Gannet - 32E, 6W
Great Crested Grebe - 6W
Brent Goose - 20E
Common Scoter - 2E, 27os
Red-breasted Merganser - 5E, 14W
Mediterranean Gull - 1E
Sandwich Tern - 1W
Meadow Pipit - 188N
Pied/alba Wagtail - 2N

Gannet past the Bill (AH)

Chichester GPs: Ivy Lake - This afternoon there was a Sand Martin and two Swallows up at the very back of the lake. (AB) At around 6pm the two Swallows were feeding low over the water. (AH)
Swallow over Ivy Lake (AH)

North Wall: Very breezy along the Wall! On White's Creek two Red-breasted Merganser males were energetically displaying to three females, and a single Great Crested Grebe was at the same location. 
On the Breach Pool were six species of duck - Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Pintail, Wigeon and Shoveler accompanied by ten Mute Swans. A flock of 260 Black-tailed Godwits flew, in but later re-located to the harbour. There were three calling Cetti's Warblers along the Wall, at Owl Water there were six displaying Shelduck and close up to the Bremere sluice was a female Red-breasted Merganser and a Spotted Redshank, whilst in and around Owl Copse there were six Little Egrets. (JDW)
Red-breasted Mergansers (above), Pintails, Shelducks & Black-tailed Godwits from the North Wall (JDW)

Church Norton: Very little in the harbour, with about half a dozen Brent Geese and Wigeon, though there were still 40+ Teal and a drake Red-breasted Merganser. Offshore there was a solitary Eider - presumably anti-social Ada! - and a Great Crested Grebe, but the only migrants on show were Chiffchaffs, with a dozen or more from the hide to the second Several. A couple of Cetti's Warblers and a Reed Buntings were at the latter location and a couple of Meadow Pipits were in the horse field, but that was about it. (AH)
This evening the pair of Grey Partridges were sheltering on the beach beyond the first houses. (S&SaH)

Eider (above), Teal & Chiffchaff at Church Norton (AH)

Ferry Pool: Ten Avocets were on the Pool this morning, along with 20+ Redshank and 40+ Shoveler, but barely double figures of Wigeon remain. (AH)

Chichester Marina: Nothing unusual on the marsh this morning, but amongst the routine fare were 6 Lapwing (paired), 10 Teal, a pair of Gadwall, 2 Canada Geese and a pair of Shelduck. In the reedbeds at least two Water Rails were going for it and calling repeatedly, with an adjacent Cetti's Warbler also adding to the volume, whilst a Reed Bunting was puny by comparison and a nearby pair of Goldfinches were carrying nesting material. In the channel at least 50 Brent Geese were lingering, a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers were displaying and about 20 Black-tailed Godwits were feeding (OM).
Birdham Pool: Little of note, the best being a pair of Gadwall, 6 Tufted Duck and 4 Little Grebes (OM).

Saturday, 28 March 2015

28th - 29th March 2015

Sunday, 29th MarchStrong WSW winds gusting to gale force with some showers at times, but certainly nowhere near as much rain as forecast. March is always unpredictable of course, but as we near the month's end it would be fair to say it certainly hasn't been a classic this year! At risk of sounding unduly negative, it does seem that visible passage numbers have been particularly low thus far, with some species like Common Scoter barely getting on the scoresheet most days... and not a single Velvet Scoter yet! Every spring has its disappointments and pleasant surprises; the latter is surely overdue! (OM)
Selsey Bill (06.45 - 09.45hrs): Cloudy, blustery, wind WSW6-8 (Obs: (SH/JA/IP/AH)
Great Northern Diver - 2os

Great Crested Grebe - 1E, 8W
Fulmar - 7W
Gannet - 9E, 8W
Brent Goose - 44E
Eider - 1W
Common Scoter - 3E, 13W, 7os
Red-breasted Merganser - 8E, 8W, 6os
Auk sp - 1W

Sandwich Tern - 1E, 1W
Mediterranean Gull - 2E
Pied Wagtail - 1 p
also Common Seal - 1os

(1420-1600) (SH/JA)
Great Northern Diver - 4 os

Fulmar - 1W
Common Scoter - 19 os
Red-breasted Merganser - 5W, 2os

Fulmar (above) & Gannet off the Bill (AH)

Church Norton: Around 200 Black-tailed Godwits were feeding on the dropping tide with plenty of the regular waders, and a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers were in the harbour, but otherwise it was slim pickings in the dismal weather. (AH)
Only the the male Grey Partridge was visible at the rear of the orchard today. Nine Meadow Pipits flew in off the sea and at least six Chiffchaffs were around. There were also similar numbers of Reed Buntings in the second Several and a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. (S&SaH)
Black-tailed Godwits (above) & Redshank at Church Norton (AH)

Both Grey Partridges were in the same spot late this afternoon, but as we walked back along the beach later they flew into the gorse bushes on the shingle opposite the first Severals.
Bird of the day for us was a female Bullfinch beside the Severals in the place a pair were seen last year. There were at least 10 Chiffchaff along the path as well. In the harbour a Sandwich Tern was roosting with several Black-headed Gulls, and a Red-breasted Merganser was feeding in the channel.
Also, a male Wheatear appeared along the fence-line on the spit - presumably this it was newly-arrived today. (S&SaH)

Wheatear on Church Norton spit (SH)

Ferry Pool: A big flock of Black-tailed Godwits (presumably those from the harbour) dropped in at the back, and there were 11 Avocets along the edges, plus the usual Lapwings and Shovelers, but there appear to be only about 40 Wigeon left. (AH)

Black-tailed Godwits over the Ferry (AH)

Saturday, 28th March: An overcast and damp murky morning, with a fresh W/SW wind and an increasing chance of rain and stronger winds later....with an afternoon sea-watch producing the first Manxies of the season!

Selsey Bill: (0800-1000hrs) Damp, murky, WSW 5-7 (Obs: JA/SH/IP/PB)
Great Crested Grebe - 1os
Fulmar - 10W
Grey Heron - 1p
Brent Goose - 25E, W
Common Scoter - 4W, 2os
Eider - 4W
Red-breasted Merganser - 2E, 7W, 2os
Turnstone - 7ob
Dunlin - 1W
Sandwich Tern - 2W
Meadow Pipit - 1N

Chiffchaff - 2 in gardens
Common Seal - 1os

Additional:14.30 to 16.45hrs: Cloudy with rain, wind strong WSW6-7 (Obs: SH/JA/AH)
Great Northern Diver - 3os

Manx Shearwater - 3E (1510hrs)
Gannet - 6E, 5W

Brent Goose - 19E
Red-breasted Merganser - 1E 4W
Meadow Pipit - 2N  
Selsey stalwarts, Justin Atkinson, Ian Pitts and Paul Bowley enjoying the spring weather (above) and a view into the murk at the Bill (SH)

Church Norton: The pair of Grey Partridges were in the field behind the orchard at Greenlease Farm this morning. There were quite a few Chiffchaffs still around, plus a Blackcap, but not much of note in the harbour, bar a Red-breasted Merganser, the leucistic Curlew and a dozen Black-tailed Godwits. It was noticeable, too, that there were very few wildfowl left in the harbour. (S&SaH/AH)

Red-breasted Merganser (above) & leucistic Curlew at Church Norton (AH)

Long Pool/Ferry Channel: The regular Spotted Redshank was feeding right down by the road end this morning, before returning to its more usual haunt at the far end. There was little else in the channel bar a few Redshank and a single Teal, whilst along the hedges there were at least half a dozen Chiffchaffs, a couple of Reed Buntings and a Meadow Pipit, a couple of singing Skylarks, and up to ten Linnets which were only present early on. (AH)

Spotted Redshank in Ferry Channel (above) & Linnet on the Long Pool (AH)

Ferry Pool: Six Avocets were present this morning, along with five Gadwall, two Curlews, c50 Shoveler, c20 Lapwings and c100 Wigeon. (AH)

Avocets on the Ferry (AH)

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

25th - 27th March 2015

Friday, 27th MarchA lovely start to the day - a light NNW wind and sunshine before clouding up later..... and the spring sunshine brought out a gathering of (over) optimistic sea-watchers...!

Selsey Bill (0630-1045hrs): Sunny, wind light NNW1-2 (Obs: PM/JA/BI/C&ME/OM/AH et al). A good turn-out of observers, but not matched by the birds, though eleven Great Northern Divers offshore was the highest count for a while, and a few Brent Geese and Common Scoters went east.  Full log below...
Red-throated Diver - 5E, 2os
Great Northern Diver - 11+ os
Diver sp - 2E
Great Crested Grebe - 1E, 2W
Gannet - 4E, 2W
Fulmar - 1E, 2W
Mute Swan - 2W, presumed same pair later drifting on sea before flying off W again
Brent Goose - 20E, 1W
Shelduck - 4W
Eider - 1os
Common Scoter - 11E, 15os
Red-breasted Merganser - 8E, 9W, 12os
Sandwich Tern - 2os
Kittiwake - 1W
Meadow Pipit - 17N
Pied/alba wagtail - 2N
Goldfinch - 1N

Two Mute Swans drifting off Selsey Bill before flying W; surprisingly scarce here, they are assumed to be the same two which had presumably doubled back after being seen to fly W earlier (OM)

Church Norton: The pair of Ravens went over the harbour again, and were joined by two more before they all headed off over Pagham Spit. There were also three Buzzards up, though there was more or less nothing in the harbour bar a few Shelduck, Teal and Redshank. On the path down to the harbour there were two singing Chiffchaffs and a male Blackcap, and both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers also made a brief appearance, whilst in the churchyard, there were two Goldcrests and a charm of Goldfinches. There were also two Brimstones and one Peacock butterfly on show. (BI)

Blackcap at Church Norton (BI)

North Wall: There was a Green Sandpiper in the flooded field north of the stables, along with 11 Curlew and a Lapwing, and there were 23 Redshank and 37 Wigeon along White's Creek. On the Breech Pool there were 270 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Common Snipe and 6 species of duck - Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Wigeon and Shelduck. Chiffchaffs were the only migrants along the Wall, and there was also a Brimstone butterfly on the wing. (JDW) 

Kestrel (above) & Tufted Ducks from North Wall (JDW)

Ferry Pool: Just two Avocets this morning, plus two Snipe, 30+ Lapwing, 40+ Shoveler but barely 100 Wigeon. (AH) Later, a Red Kite flew over the Visitor centre (IL).

Red Kite over the Visitor centre (IL)
Shovelers on the Ferry (AH)

Medmerry: Breach & Coastguards - Very quiet this morning, with just a few Meadow Pipits at each site, and the usual half a dozen grey Plover, Curlew and Dunlin, plus 30 Shelduck at the former. (AH)

Chainbridge field: Nothing this morning except a couple of Chiffchaffs and three soaring Buzzards, whilst 150 Golden Plover were spread out across a ploughed field in the reserve (OM).

Meadow Pipit on Medmerry Cliff (AH)

Easton Lane to the Stilt Pool: There were two Little Ringed Plovers on the Stilt Pool this morning up to 12.15 when they flew into the main reserve. A Spoonbill was on the Stilt pool, too, along with a dozen Avocets and eight Gadwall. The Yellowhammers all appeared in pairs, rather than flocks, along the bank and there were still plenty of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Linnets present, plus a few Reed Buntings and Stock Doves. Also a flock of c25 Brent geese went over east. (AH/BI)

Spoonbill at Medmerry (above) (BI)

Little Ringed Plover (above), Spoonbill, Yellowhammer & Skylark at Medmerry (AH)

Chichester Marina: There were eight Buzzards soaring together over the marsh this morning but little else of note. Two pairs of Lapwing were making their presence felt, as was a calling Water Rail and a Cetti's Warbler. In the channel there were 60 Brent Geese still loitering, plus 5 Black-tailed Godwits, 4 Teal and the usual Redshanks and Shelduck in small numbers (OM).

Thursday, 26th March: A horrible start to the day, with a strong southerly bringing in squally drizzle, before the wind shifted west and the sun appeared occasionally between the clouds.....with the prospect of a brighter and drier afternoon.

Selsey Bill: Despite the southerly wind, between 7.30 and 8.15am just two Red-breasted Mergansers and eight Turnstones heading east. (AH)

Medmerry: Stilt Pool - Still one Spoonbill on the pool at midday. (C&ME)

Church Norton: Most notable feature of a dire morning was a total of 290 Black-tailed Godwits spread over the mud. Also about were three Knot, four Pintail, c60 Brent Geese and 20+ Ringed Plovers when the sun came out. A few Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests were lurking in the bushes and there were three Reed Buntings along the west side. (AH/BFF/DM)

Black-tailed Godwits (above), Ringed Plovers & Chiffchaff at Church Norton (AH)

Ferry Pool: Ten Avocets this morning, plus a Snipe, six Curlews and around ten pairs of displaying Lapwing, along with usual numbers of Shoveler, Wigeon and Shelduck, and a Kestrel hunting over the road. (AH/IL)

Lapwings (above) & Kestrel over the Ferry (AH)

Wednesday, 25th March: A beautifully bright and fairly still morning with a light W/NW breeze, if a little chilly though, with cloud building up as the day progressed....
However, there is at the moment a bit of a problem looming for regulars and visitors alike who come to sea-watch at the Bill this spring.... unfortunately some sea-defence works have just started on the beach right beside the western edge of the Wall, our usual watch-point and spiritual home! This is apparently scheduled to go on for some weeks and will probably extend right into the Pom season!  Apart from the noise and vibration of the machinery, the view from the Wall will be partly obstructed at times, and to make things worse part of the beach is also cordoned off. There is also much activity with workers coming and going, so incoming migrants are unlikely to linger for long, if at all. It will clearly impact on our enjoyment but there is nothing we can do and I guess it will pass soon enough, but observers should be prepared for some disruption this year (OM)

Sea-defence works at the Bill, right by the Wall. Perfect timing for spring sea-watching! (OM)

Selsey Bill (0730-1200hrs): (Obs: AH/C&ME/OM). The morning started promisingly with a Wheatear on the wall and a Chiffchaff in the Bill House garden, but not much else was evident and sea-passage was slow to say the least, though it was pleasant sitting in the sunshine when sheltered from the breeze... Full log below:
Red-throated Diver - 3E
Great Northern Diver - 4os
Great Crested Grebe - 3os
Gannet - 1E, 1W
Eider - 1os 
Common Scoter - 4E
Red-breasted Merganser - 13E, 7os
Lapwing - 1W
Meadow Pipit - 5N
Pied/alba Wagtail - 1N
Wheatear - 1p
Chiffchaff - 1 gardens

Wheatear at the Bill (AH)

Ferry Pool: There were three Green Sandpipers this morning - one at the back and two down near the road, and there were also five Avocets, one Snipe, six Redshank, 40 Lapwing, 60 Shoveler and c200 Wigeon, plus a few Chiffchaffs scattered about the area. (AH/AB)

Green Sandpipers (above) & Avocets on the Ferry (AH)

Shovelers on the Ferry (AB)

Church Norton: A pair of Ravens were around the Priory Wood area for a while this morning before drifting off over Park Farm. Not much evidence of migration beyond a few Chiffchaffs, though there were several Goldcrests about, along with three or four Jays and the usual Goldfinches and Greenfinches. Not much through Greenlease Farm bar more Chiffchaffs and a pair of Stock Doves, whilst in the harbour a Peregrine was on its island and c300 Brent Geese took off and headed out over the spit, only to return and drop back in the harbour. (AH/AB)
A Willow Warbler was in the churchyard and there were several Chiffchaffs present, too. (A&YF)
Additionally a stunning fox was hunting in the Several's Field and I watched him for about an hour as he successfully pounced on 4 voles/mice and munched them down. He came right down to the beach end of the field, constantly keeping a wary eye my way as I stood behind a bramble bush...absolutely stunning. Also in the field was a male Pheasant that had a bit of a stand-off with the fox, neither wanting to pass the other, a pale female Stonechat was present too and 4 Chiffchaffs feeding actively in the bushes. The pair of Ravens flew from Norton across the Harbour at 1050, cronking as they went (AB).

Raven (above), Stock Doves, Goldcrest & Goldfinch at Church Norton (AH)

Stonechat (above) and Fox at Church Norton (AB)

North Wall: Along White's Creek there were 40 Wigeon, 24 Dunlin, 36 Redshank and their Spotted cousin. There were 70 Teal, a few Mallard and 4 Tufted Ducks on the Breech Pool, supported by 5 Common Snipe and 2 Black-tailed Godwits, but apart from a pair of Green Woodpeckers it was very quiet on the Wall. 
A pair of Swans have appeared at Owl Water, and there were singing Chiffchaffs in Owl Copse and at Bremere Bridge, whilst there were 14 Pied Wagtails in the large field east of Marsh Farm. Also, a Brown Hare and 2 Roe Deer were near Marsh Farm. (JDW)

Grey Heron & Curlew (above) & Mute Swans from the North Wall (JDW)

Medmerry: Stilt Pool - A Little Ringed Plover was on the pool this morning, along with 15 Avocets, but otherwise it was quiet. (PLS)

Porthole Farm - There were still 30+ Reed Buntings along the hedges and probably 50 Chiffchaffs spread across every bit of hedgerow this morning. Two or three Yellowhammers were about and over 100 Meadow Pipits were in the arable fields along with at least half a dozen Red-legged Partridges and Stock Doves. (AH)

Reed Buntings (above), Chiffchaff & Red-legged Partridge at Porthole Farm (AH)

Chichester GPs: Midday I walked from North Mundham School and up around the Ivy Lake complex; quite disappointing, a Buzzard, one Little Egret, 5 Chiffchaffs, 3 Cetti's Warblers, a pair of Reed Buntings, a couple of Bullfinches heard only, and although there was a good insect hatch, evidenced by the number of Black-headed Gulls swirling around, not a sign of a hirundine ! Also a Peacock butterfly (CRJ).

Westhampnett Pit: Still quiet but there were a pair of Great Crested Grebes, a Little Grebe, one Common Gull and a pair of Gadwall on the water and a few Chiffchaffs in the hedge this morning. The usual Tufted Ducks were present along with the Coots and Black-headed Gulls and there were two Buzzards over (BI).

Chichester Marina:  On the marsh this afternoon were 4 displaying Lapwings, a pair of Gadwall, several Teal and a pair of Buzzards soaring low over the reed-bed; one feisty Lapwing, clearly on territory, was having none of it and repeatedly rose to mob the raptors. Two Cetti's Warbler were still singing and to my surprise a Kingfisher put in an appearance along the dyke (OM).