Monday, 16 March 2015

16th - 18th March 2015

Wednesday, 18th March: A bright and pleasant day after a misty start, though still with a chill in the easterly wind, but spring-like if sheltered from it....

Selsey Bill (0730-1145hrs): Sunny, wind light NE1-2, increasing E3 later. Slightly hazy. Pleasant and quite warm on the Wall sheltered from the wind. (Obs: OM/AH/C&ME/CRJ)

At last! There were three cracking male Wheatears on the beach early this morning, flitting around, unconcerned by the endless passers-by, and two more later in the gardens were probably new in. There were a few Chiffchaffs, too, though sea-passage remains slight. Also, the Common Seal was close inshore. Full log...
Red-throated Diver - 2E
Great Northern Diver - 2os
Diver sp - 2E
Slavonian Grebe - 1os
Great Crested Grebe - 1E, 2os
Fulmar - 1E, 3W
Gannet - 2E
Brent Goose - 2E
Common Scoter - 10E, 3os
Red-breasted Merganser - 1E, 2os
Shoveler - 6E
Wigeon - 7E
Common Buzzard - 2, soaring high over gardens disturbed the gulls and drifted away NW
Wheatear - 5
Meadow Pipit - 89N
Pied/alba Wagtail - 4N
Chiffchaff - 1N, 6 in gardens
Wheatear (above) & Common Seal at the Bill (AH)

At the Bill this morning: Wheatear in the gardens, and this noisy Carrion Crow was trying to feed on this rubbishy sponge-like stuff (egg-cases?) just a few feet away at the bottom of the wall (OM)

Selsey (West): At Coastguards my first observation of interest was the discovery of Beryl James - feeling better and out in the field complete with her bike - although there were no other highlights and just a couple of R/b Mergansers offshore. Then it was on to Warner Lane to check out the horse paddock fields... four Curlew, a Pied Wagtail and a Stonechat were present, then suddenly a loud 'cronk' as a low-flying Raven flew almost overhead and headed off NW... I fumbled to get my camera out of its case and put my scope down and by the time I'd focused it was too far off, so apologies for the cropped and less-than-sharp image! Still, I think it is a Selsey tick for me, though just too far away for my Bill-tip list! Then a second lady birder with bike as I left and bumped into Sarah Russell, complete with borrowed optics whilst her own are away being repaired - keep at it Sarah!
At Northcommon Farm an obvious fall of 7+ Chiffchaffs, but there was little else except a count of at least 38 nests in the Rookery (OM)

Dear Beryl James in action again at Coastguards and Raven flying off from Warner Lane (OM)

Chiffchaff and Rook at nest, Northcommon Farm (three corvid species pics in a day must be a blog record!) (OM)

Sarah Russell still in action at Warner Lane with borrowed optics after damaging her own - ouch! (OM)
Church Norton: Not much evidence of migration here, though a Red Kite drifted east over the harbour and there were a few Chiffchaffs and Meadow Pipits about. There were still 4-500 Brent Geese in the harbour and plenty of the regular waders, plus two Green Woodpeckers - one on the spit and one in Rectory Lane. 
There were also a (family?) group of Brent Geese on Greenlease Farm, the two juveniles of which were unusually pale below - see pic. (AH)
Red Kite (above), odd-looking Brent Goose & Grey Plovers at Church Norton (AH)

In the Harbour, the Whimbrel was showing well opposite the hide and some of the Black-tailed Godwits were coming into summer-plumage. The leucistic Curlew was out and feeding in its usual spot - .that bird never comes any closer like the normal Curlews do!
Lots of common waders buzzing around as the tide dropped, but no sign of any Spoonbills today. Quite a few Brent Geese and Wigeon still around, but there were only two pairs of Pintail seen. Not much along the beach or on the 2nd Severals except for 20 Brent Geese and a Little Grebes, whilst.behind the hide there were several Chiffchaffs busy flycatching and showing well.
On the butterfly front there was a Peacock over the Severals Field, whilst behind the hide were at least two Brimstones, a Comma and another Peacock. (AB)
Whimbrel (above), Black-tailed Godwit & Teal at Church Norton (AB)
Ferry Pool: A few waders were present this morning - one Green Sandpiper, three Snipe, eight Avocets, two Black-tailed Godwit, 12 Redshank, 20 Curlew, 117 Golden Plover and 75 Lapwing, plus the usual Shoveler and Wigeon flocks. (AH/AB) Also quite a good fall of Chifchaffs with at least 12 around the hedges and a very strikingly grey/white bird that looked good for a 'Siberian'  in the conifers alongside the Environment Agency Yard. (AB)
Golden Plover (above) (AB) & Shovelers (AH) over the Ferry
Medmerry: Stilt Pool - The many-ringed Spoonbill, 13 Avocets, 6 Gadwall, 14 Tufted Ducks, 32 Wigeon, 4 Teal, a single Brent Goose and c30 Black-headed Gulls in full breeding plumage were present this morning. Nearby were good numbers of singing Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, and Yellowhammer, 3 Buzzards and 4 Kestrels. (SR)

Ham/Chainbridge: There were 3 Corn Buntings about this morning, with at least one singing, 2 Kestrels and plenty of displaying Lapwings. (SR)
This evening just one Short-eared Owl was briefly on show on the reserve, and a couple of Chiffchaffs were flycatching by the bridge. (AH)

Porthole Farm: There were at least 30 Reed Buntings and similar of Chiffchaff (several of which were singing)  around the perimeter hedges of the sewage farm this morning, along with 50+ Meadow Pipits, 100+ Pied Wagtail, eight Stock Doves, a Sparrowhawk and two Buzzards in the area. (AH)
Reed Bunting (above) & Chiffchaff at Porthole Farm (AH)
Fishbourne Creek: There were 30 Yellowhammers, a Chiffchaff and a Mistle Thrush around the riding school at Apuldram. In the Creek there were 500 Brent Geese and a Greenshank, with a Buzzard over. (CRJ/C&ME)

Westhampnett Pit: The daily hirundine watch was again unsuccessful but a good hatch of flies suggested that this may change shortly! Apart from that much the same, a dozen or so Tufted Ducks, numerous Coots, six Great Crested Grebes, a lone Cormorant and two Greylag Geese. Three Brimstone butterflies along the hedge was good to see. (BI)

Chichester Marina: Not a great deal; on the marsh were a couple of Teal and a Black-tailed Godwit, whilst in the channel there were a couple of hundred lingering Brent Geese, a dozen or so Teal, 30+ Shelduck and the usual waders. At Birdham Pool there were a couple of Chiffchaffs, then a courting pair of Mandarin dropped in calling to each other, before quickly melting away into the reeds and waterside vegetation. Whatever your views on the latter species, they are not an easy bird to get on the Peninsula! (OM).
 Top end of Birdham Pool, pair of Mandarins (centre) and drake only (lower) (OM)

Tuesday, 17th March: Still cool with a lighter NE wind and cloud, but with a forecast of sunny periods later so perhaps feeling a bit less chilly...

On a different note, it seems my pic yesterday of the wall plaque at Selsey prompted a bit of interest and I'm grateful to Jim Bagley for the following..."I watched G/C Donaldson  achieve that record at Rustington in 1946. The actual aircraft is in the Tangmere museum for anybody who is interested."  

Selsey Bill (0650-0930hrs): ENE 3 - poor visibility - mile basket barely visible for most of the time. (Obs: PM/M&CE et al). Log:
Great Northern Diver - 1os

Slavonian Grebe - 1E 
Great Crested Grebe - 1os
Gannet - 2W
Eider - 1os
Brent Goose - 51E

Shelduck - 2E
Red-breasted Merganser - 32E, 7W
Meadow Pipit - 14N
Pied/alba Wagtail - 3N
Mediterranean Gull - 1os
Additional: 0930 - 1145hrs (Obs: C&ME) Better vis.
Great Northern Diver - 3os

Red-throated Diver - 2E
Slavonian Grebe - 2 landed os
Gannet - 1E
Brent Goose - 26E                           
R/b Merganser - 4E
Meadow Pipit - 84N
Pied/alba Wagtail - 3N

Medmerry: Stilt Pool area - A Short-eared Owl was out hunting this morning between the holiday village and the beach. Also, the three Spoonbills were still present along with 12 Avocets, the elusive wintering Common Sandpiper put in an appearance, and there were a couple of Mediterranean Gulls and a Lesser Black Backed Gull around, too. (PLS)

Breach/Chainbridge area - Not a hint of a migrant, just the regular Skylarks, yellowhammers, Reed Buntings and Meadow Pipits along the banks and hedges. In the pools by the breach there were a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers and a few Grey Plovers, but otherwise it was quiet. (AH)

Skylark (above) & Yellowhammers at Medmerry (AH)

Coastguards - There were two Great Northern Divers, four Red-breasted Mergansers and a pair of Great Crested Grebes offshore, but nothing on the land! (AH/BFF)

Church Norton: One or two bits to report... a Firecrest in the churchyard this morning was presumably a migrant, whilst a pair of Grey Partridges were tucked in on the arable field east of Rectory Lane. Offshore there were an impressive 20 Slavonian Grebes, along with a pair of displaying Great Crested Grebes and half a dozen Red-breasted Mergansers. There were still several hundred Brent Geese scattered about the harbour and 169 Black-tailed Godwits, but not much else of note, save a couple of singing Chiffchaffs in Priory Wood. (AH/BFF/Bob Self)

Firecrest (above), Grey Partridges & Great Crested Grebes at Church Norton (AH)

Ferry Pool: There were still around 80 Golden Plovers on the field this morning along with 50+ Lapwing, and there were nine Avocets along the water's edge. (AH) Also two Green Sandpipers present (BFF/Bob Self).
Golden Plover (above) & Shelducks on the Ferry (AH)

Long Pool: There were two Spotted Redshanks at the far end of the channel this morning, and along the pool and the west side there were a couple of pairs of Linnets, a Stonechat, three or four Chiffchaffs and half a dozen Reed Buntings, plus three Buzzards up over the harbour. (AH)

Linnets along the Long Pool (AH)

North Wall: A pleasant warm morning along the Wall. The ever present Spotted Redshank was close to the sluice gates on White's Creek. Even at high tide the water levels on Breech Pool were low and the eastern end is now open mud. Nevertheless it hosted seven species of duck this morning - Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Tufted, Gadwall, Shoveler and Pintail, and five Common Snipe were also present. Along the Wall there were three calling Cetti's Warblers, another three along Pagham Rife and one at Bremere Bridge. A flock of 600 Brent Geese flew in and were feeding on Honer 2 field. The only migrants encountered were two singing Chiffchaffs. (JDW) 
A late morning visit produced 2 Spotted Redshanks in harbour creek, 12 Snipe on Breech Pool, the Barnacle Goose still with Brent flock in fields, and a squealing Water Rail (PM).
Late this afternoon the Water Rail was showing on the Breech Pool and a female Marsh Harrier went over into the harbour heading towards the Ferry. (PB) Further to this, 3 Marsh Harriers were present over the North Field/Wall late afternoon (DSh/Bob Self).
Spotted Redshank (above), Brent Geese and a view of the Breech Pool minus water from the North Wall (JDW)

 Additional shots of the Spotted Redshanks along White's creek/harbour channel (PM)
Chichester GPs: A singing, very early Willow Warbler was present at the Ivy Lake complex together with a number of Chiffchaffs (Bob Self et al)
Apuldram/Fishbourne creek: There were 30 Yellowhammers around the manure dump and a female Black Redstart was glimpsed on the heap before melting away into the hedgerow. Around the creek 3 Greenshank, 2 Rock Pipit and 2 Jack Snipe plus 40 Meadow Pipits north (BFF).

Monday, 16th March: A fairly dire day, with a cold north-northeasterly veering to easterly and almost continuous heavy drizzle or light rain, under a heavy cloud; winter conditions seem reluctant to depart...

Selsey Bill (0730-1130hrs)Overcast, steady light rain, wind N/NE2 then E3-4. (Obs: OM/AH). Predictably little on show this morning, but despite this I felt that sea-watching was the best option, and each time I thought about leaving the rain deterred me. My lone 4-hr vigil was joined for a short while by AH, but in a rare show of undue optimism he soon left to go and find some passerine migrants.... but his call to say he'd found some never came! Meanwhile, back at the Bill, despite much scanning I struggled to find any Great Northern Divers offshore, even on a fairly calm sea. In the end I located a single bird; I can't imagine they have all suddenly left, so guess it was just due to the prevailing conditions (or my eyesight!) (OM). Log...
Red-throated Diver - 2E
Great Northern Diver - 1os
Slavonian Grebe - 1os
Great Crested Grebe - 4W, 1os
Fulmar - 2E, 1W
Gannet - 21E
Eider - 1os
Common Scoter - 2W
Red-breasted Merganser - 7E, 5W, 5os
Mediterranean Gull - 1E
Meadow Pipit - 14N
Pied/alba Wagtail - 1N

I couldn't find any birds to photograph in the poor conditions today, so being desperate to please my co-editor I came across this item of interest, which I have never noticed before despite many visits; it is just behind the Bill on the wall of a house at the junction of Grafton Road and Seal Road (OM).
Selsey (West) was also quiet; a single R/b Merganser was off Coastguards, whilst the adjoining fields and Paddock Lane compound were devoid of any migrant activity (OM).

A short update on the ringed Herring Gull seen at the Bill on 13th March.... it was ringed as a first calendar year bird in Nov 2013 at Rainham Tip, Greater London, and was also seen at Shoreham in Dec 2013 (with thanks to SR).

Ferry Pool: Still plenty of birds about the pool - the Golden Plover flock has grown to excess of 100  birds, some of which are attaining summer plumage, the few remaining Lapwing are displaying furiously and at least 70 Shoveler remain on the pools, with 20+ Shelduck and 200+ Wigeon still around, too. There were still 14 Avocets this morning, along with a few Redshank and Black-tailed Godwits, and a Grey Wagtail flew over. (AH)
Golden Plover (above), Lapwings and Shoveler on/over the Ferry (AH)

Medmerry: Easton Lane west - Highlights of a walk in cold, dreary and rainy conditions were a Spoonbill in the channel by the poplars trees, a Green Sandpiper, 6 Avocets, 40+ Meadow Pipits, 15 Linnets, 12 Reed Buntings, 10 Yellowhammers and 20+ Skylarks. (C&ME)

Church Norton: A Barn Owl flew across the B2145 by the turning to Church Norton at 5.30am (SH)
Very little of note in the harbour, though - c20 Pintail, still plenty of Wigeon and Teal, 100+ Black-tailed Godwits, and a few Grey Plover was about it. (AH)
Pintail (above), Wigeon, Black-tailed Godwit & Grey Plover at Church Norton (AH)


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