Tuesday, 29 December 2015

29th - 31st December 2015

Thursday, 31st December: A wild and windy night giving way to a somewhat brighter day, feeling a little cooler but with clearer skies and periods of sunshine.... a rare commodity lately. The strong SW winds persist however - still approaching gale force.....

The editors would like to take this opportunity of wishing everyone a happy, peaceful and bird-filled New Year.... and let's hope 2016 treats the Peninsula, its birds and its birders kindly.

Chi Marina: A Little Gull was still present in the same field off Saltern's Way. (BI)

Selsey Bill: Not a lot moving, just a few Gannets, Kittiwakes, Brent Geese and a Red-throated Diver, plus a couple of Great Northern Divers and the Eider offshore. Full log below. (JA/SH/SR/PB/AH/PC)
Red-throated Diver -  1W
Great Northern Diver - 2os
diver sp - 1W
Great Crested Grebe - 1W
Gannet - 41E, 16W
Shag - 1W
Brent Goose - 12W
Common Scoter - 2W
Eider - 1os
Red-breasted Merganser - 3E, 16W, 9os
Mediterranean Gull - 1os
Kittiwake - 3E, 2W
Razorbill - 2E

Red-breasted Mergansers past the Bill (AH)

Ferry Pool: Still a lot of birds, including the White-fronted Goose in with 20 Canada Geese, 200 Brent Geese, 200 Wigeon, 75 Shoveler, 60 Golden Plover, 150 Black-tailed Godwits and at least 500 Lapwing. Also a Kingfisher was in the rife and a grey Wagtail and a Buzzard went over. (AH)

Kingfisher (above), White-fronted Goose & Golden Plover and Lapwing at the Ferry (AH)

Long Pool: Quiet - couple of Little grebes and a couple of Reed Buntings was about it, whilst there were a dozen Avocet and 25 Redshank in the channel. (AH)

Little Grebes (above) & Avocets from Long Pool (AH)

Church Norton: There were two, and possibly three, Chiffchaffs around the mound/car park area, with a few Goldcrests, too, but not many other small birds. The Whimbrel was in its usual area, and on the beach a Sanderling was in with 40 Turnstones, and there were two or three Mediterranean and Common Gulls with the Black-headed Gulls, but the harbour was very empty of birds again, with just a few Shelduck, Curlew and Grey Plover on the mud, (AH)

Sanderling & with Turnstone (above), Mediterranean Gull, Chiffchaff & Goldcrest at Church Norton (AH)

North Wall: A clear and breezy morning and White's Creek was like a wind tunnel, and apart from 7 Redshank it was devoid of birds. The Breech Pool is full to brimming and, apart from 2 Teal, only Mallard could be observed. In the field behind were 120 Wigeon, 11 Canada Geese and 2 Little Egrets. In Honer 2 field were 1200 Brent Geese, rising to 1700 as the morning went on, and 70 Curlew. In Honer 3 field were a further 22 Curlew and 7 Black-tailed Godwits. Where have all the Godwits gone? 
In the field immediately north of Bremere Bridge were 240 Wigeon, 80 Teal, 47 Canada Geese and a Greylag Goose. Along Honer Lane were 7 Yellowhammers, but Honer reservoir held only 18 Coot and 5 Black Headed Gulls. In the nearby sunflower patch was a flock of 800 Wood Pigeons. It was nice to finish 2015 with a circuit year tick - 5 Grey Partridge in the field SE of the reservoir. This made my 2015 total for the circuit up to 103. Back home there was a bee on the honey suckle. Crazy weather. Happy New Year. (JDW)

Brent Geese (above) & Wigeon from North Wall & Honeysuckle in a Pagham Garden (JDW)

Some interesting news from the BTO, via Richard Fairbank, regarding a ringed Great Black-backed Gull on Pagham Lagoon on 28th December - 
D:AU (BTO MA30865) was ringed by the Goldcliff Ringing Group on 16/06/2013 at Denny Island (Monmouthshire) in the Bristol Channel. Your sighting is the first since the bird was ringed - 2years 195 days previous. The distance and direction of movement is 165km, ESE.
We have not previously had a sighting from West Sussex, so especially pleased to get your record. Most of the birds from Denny so far have moved around the West Country - several have wintered in Cornwall.

Wednesday, 30th December: Gale force southerly winds and thick cloud, though largely dry through the morning with the mild conditions still persisting, but heavy rain anticipated later....

Selsey Bill (0745 - 1000hrs):  Gales, S 7- 8 gusting f. 9   (Obs: SH/SR/AH)
Great Northern Diver - 1os.
diver sp. - 2E
Great Crested Grebe - 1W
Gannet - 58E, 353W, 
Brent Goose - 144E, 13W
Eider - 1os.
Teal - 1E
Wigeon - 8W  
Velvet Scoter - 4E
Red-breasted Merganser - 3E, 13W, 3os.

Kittiwake- 20E, 79W
Mediterranean Gull - 1W
Razorbill - 1W
auk sp. 1W

Gannet (above), Red-breasted Merganser & Brent Geese past the Bill (AH)

(1300-1500) (SH)
Red-throated Diver - 1E
Great Northern Diver - 2os
Gannet - 44E, 16W
Velvet Scoter - 5E
Red-breasted Merganser - 8E, 4W, 2os.
Great Skua - 1E
Mediterranean Gull - 1os
Kittiwake - 21E, 2W
Razorbill 1e
auk sp - 2E

Ferry Pool: Nothing unusual, but a lot of birds, including around 500 Brent Geese, 200 Wigeon, 125 Black-tailed Godwits, 80 Lapwing, 20 Golden Plover, 70 Shoveler, 40 Teal and 25 Shelduck. Also, there was a very confiding Goldcrest among a small flock of Long-tailed Tits. (AH)

Black-tailed Godwits (above) Brent Geese and Wigeon & Goldcrest at the Ferry (AH)

Chichester Marina: The two Little Gulls were in the usual field along Salterns Way, with about 60 Curlew, 200 Common Gulls and double that of Black-headed Gulls, whilst in the field opposite there were 1000+ Brent Geese, but the Black Brants weren't giving themselves away.
On the water there were four Goldeneye, eight Red-breasted Mergansers, five Great Crested and twelve Little Grebes. (AH/BI)

Little Gulls (above) & Red-breasted Merganser at Chichester Marina (AH)

West Itchenor: A Great Northern Diver just offshore a couple of hundred metres south of Itchenor this afternoon - presumably the same bird seen near Dell Quay earlier in the week. (GM per SOS)

Pagham Lagoon: There were five Goldeneye, 30 Tufted Ducks, the female Pochard. a male Red-breasted Merganser, six Little Grebes and one Great Crested Grebe, plenty of Black-headed and Herring Gulls, along with a few Common Gulls and two Great Black-backed Gulls, but no sign of the possible Scaup. (BI)

Medmerry: Stilt Pool - 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Redshank, c50 Lapwing, c75Teal, c100 Wigeon, 14 Tufted Duck, 6 Gadwall. Along the track were 2 Yellowhammers, 1 Redwing, c20 Chaffinch and 8 Meadow Pipits. (SR)

Tuesday, 29th December: You guessed it - still mild and changeable with southerly winds! Also fewer sunny spells and more cloud and showers than predicted today, with a fresh SW  coastal breeze......

Selsey Bill (0750 to 1030hrs):  Fairly routine, though 13 Pintail and 40 Wigeon were perhaps unexpected, whilst the now-frequent large and distant flock of Gannets was also present.  (Obs: SH/DFS/C&ME/DS/JS).  Full log below......
Red-throated Diver - 4E, 8W, 1os
Great Northern Diver - 3 os
diver sp - 3E
Slavonian Grebe - 1W
Great Crested Grebe - 1W, 1os
Gannet - 11E, 19W and probably around 500 distantly offshore again
Brent Goose - 10E, 1W
Eider - 1os
Common Scoter - 9E, 4W
Red-breasted Merganser - 5E, 10W

Pintail - 13W
Wigeon - 10E, 40W
Kittiwake - 5E, 9W
Guillemot - 1os
Razorbill - 1E, 3W
auk sp. - 3E, 2W

Selsey East beach Pond: The Kingfisher was present this afternoon (SH)

Long Pool/Ferry channel:  A Marsh Harrier was hunting around the Long Pool area this morning, before moving into the harbour, whilst a Kingfisher, c.20 Avocets and a Spotted Redshank were in the channel. (AH)

Marsh Harrier (above) & Spotted Redshank and Redshanks from Long Pool (AH)

North Wall: Highlight today was a Short-eared Owl quartering the reeds behind the Breech Pool. Otherwise it was very quiet. Along White's Creek were 31 Redshanks, 27 Wigeon and 140 Lapwing, whilst in the field behind the Breech Pool were 600 Brent Geese, 7 Canada Geese, 120 Wigeon and 37 Curlew. At this point a squall arrived and I was soaked within minutes and abandoned birding!

In my Pagham garden were 18 Long-tailed Tits, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a pair of Jays who have apparently mastered my peanut bird feeder. (JDW)

Robin (above) & rainbow from North Wall (JDW)

Medmerry: On a rather windswept afternoon a late sighting of a Short-eared Owl was a bonus. Other birds of note were a Dartford Warbler, both Green and Common Sandpipers, numerous Yellowhammers, Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, several pairs of Stonechats and a Red-breasted Merganser. (G Whitehead per SOS)

Saturday, 26 December 2015

26th - 28th December 2015

Monday, 28th December: Still incredibly mild for the time of year, with a strong southerly airflow, but a welcome change to dry conditions with a bit of sunshine and light cloud today.....

Selsey Bill (0750 to 0940hrs): Three Great Northern Divers and the Eider were offshore, but not much was moving, though there were over a dozen Red-throated Divers west and over 70 Brent Geese went east. (Obs: JA/SH/CN/SR/AH)  Full log below....
Red-throated Diver - 1E, 13W, 1os
Great Northern Diver - 3os
Diver sp - 1E, 2W
Great Crested Grebe - 4E, 1os
Gannet - 15E
Brent Goose - 64E, 27W
Eider - 1os
Shelduck - 8W
Common Scoter - 7E, 8W
Red-breasted Merganser - 5E, 2W, 5os
Wigeon - 10E, 80os

Auk sp - 2E, 1W, 1os
Kittiwake - 1E
Common Gull - 1E
Mediterranean Gull - 2W, 1os
Linnet - 5p

Brent Geese past the Bill (AH)

Ferry Pool: Still 50+ Black-tailed Godwits and Lapwing, all put up by a passing Buzzard, but a lot less wildfowl present, though there were still 70 Shoveler. (AH)

Buzzard over the Ferry (AH)

Chichester Harbour
Marina - The two Little Gulls were still along Salterns Way, with half a dozen Mediterranean, 50 Common and about 400 Black-headed Gulls. (AH) 
There were 450 Brent at Westlands (Birdham), and then, north of the Marina by the cycleway, there were yet another 1300 or so. That flock had 15 young  - more than I have seen all season. Unfortunately they were being harried by a dog (deliberately) so when I spotted a colour-ringed bird it did not stay still long enough to read. Maybe another observer, in quieter times, will do better and report it. In the pasture field on the other side of the cycleway, south of the dairy, were 93 Curlew feeding (AdP)

Little Gulls at Chichester Marina (AH)

Birdham Pool - No Mandarins or Red-crested Pochard, though there were four Gadwall and 20 Tufted Ducks.

Fishbourne Creek - Highlights were six Goldeneye and a dozen Red-breasted Mergansers on the water, four Greenshank and three Spotted Redshank opposite the Sailing Club quay, and the Whimbrel along east the side. Among other birds noted were a Golden Plover in with over 400 Black-tailed Godwits, at least ten Rock Pipits with half a dozen Meadow Pipits, two Reed Buntings and two pairs of Stonechats opposite the path to the church, about 20 Pintail and a pair of Gadwall in with many hundreds of Wigeon, and at least 200 Common Gulls at the northern end. Also at least 30 Yellowhammers were around the riding school. (AH)

Whimbrel (above), Red-breasted Mergansers, Brent Goose and Redshank, Golden Plover, Rock Pipt and Pintail in Fishbourne Creek (AH)

East Head - On the pools by Snowhill Creek, highlights were a Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank, two Cetti's Warblers and two Stonechats, along with plenty of Teal and Wigeon, twenty roosting Grey Plovers and 100 Lapwings. There were probably 700 Brent Geese feeding in the fields and lots and lots of people and dogs!! (BI)
Later, along the east side of the harbour, I got c2300 Brent on the West Wittering carpark (and probably as many people and dogs, much as in BI’s report!). A small flock of Sanderling, 25 or so, fled from the beach and that was that for them. (AdP)

Medmerry: At Easton Lane to Stilt pool (mid-afternoon) were a Green Sandpiper, a Kingfisher and 2 Buzzards (S&SaH) Also a mobile Red-breasted Merganser (or two!) that was fishing on the Stilt pools and then on the channel pools on the seaward side of the seawall. (PH)   

Sunday, 27th December: And so it goes on; mild, windy and cloudy, with a brisk south-westerly and the risk of showers later.......

As we approach the end of 2015, the thoughts of many of us turn to starting our new lists for the coming year and wondering what highlights will occur. However it's always nice to look back at those highlights that have just passed and I'm pleased to say that my esteemed co-editor AH is busily working on his much appreciated Review of the Year for the peninsula. It is also a time that Andy and I will be reviewing the blog itself, to see what changes, if any, might improve things. The old adage of "if it ain't broke don't fix it" will be borne in mind, and regular visitors to this site will have noticed a well-established pattern of such things as colour-coding for the various peninsula areas, order of species for sea-watching logs, full species names in the summaries and so on. Any future changes will I hope be minor and fairly subtle, but if any contributors have suggestions for improvements, now is the time to be bold and let us know.... all ideas will be considered (though not necessarily adopted for various reasons but we promise to advise as to why). As one example of things to be considered... should we adopt the very latest BOU list for the order of species - which has some fairly radical changes - rather than maintain the older and more familiar order known to most birders? We will see, but meanwhile, thanks to all for your support and words of encouragement, which are appreciated. (OM)

Selsey Bill: Highlight was the four Velvet Scoters going west this morning - presumably they are the same ones seen on three previous occasions in the last few weeks, and hopefully they have settled in for the winter! Otherwise it was pretty quiet, with three Great Northern Divers and the Eider offshore, and a Red-throated Diver and 20 or so Gannets and Kittiwakes heading west. (JA/SH/PB/CN/SR/AH et al)  Full log below.....
(0750 to 0930hrs):
Red-throated Diver - 1W
Great Northern Diver - 3os
Gannet - 21W
Brent Goose - 20W

Eider - 1os
Common Scoter - 2E, 2W
Velvet Scoter - 4W
Red-breasted Merganser - 7W, 2os
Auk sp - 2E
Kittiwake - 13W

Eider (above) & a good gathering on a dull day at the Bill (AH)

Church Norton: A Short-eared Owl was hunting around the horse field and concrete wall area this morning. A Goldeneye was in the harbour, plus 4 Red-breasted Mergansers, whilst there were another 6 of the latter offshore, plus 2 Kittiwakes heading W (S&SaH)

Ferry Pool: No sign of the White-fronted Goose late morning, though there were at least 200 Black-tailed Godwits present, with similar of Wigeon and Lapwing, plus 40 or so Curlew and 60+Shoveler, and about 20 Stock Doves on the adjacent cropped field. (AH/CN)

Black-tailed Godwits over the Ferry (AH)

Pagham Lagoon/Spit: Frustratingly, yesterday's possible Scaup was nowhere to be found on the Lagoon, with just a couple of redhead Goldeneye, a single Pochard and 20 Tufted Duck present.
There were a further four (two pairs) of Goldeneye near the harbour mouth, a few Pintail in with 80 Teal near the hide, a Red-breasted Merganser in the main channel and a few Meadow Pipits along the beach. (AH/DIS/DM)

Goldeneye in the Harbour (above) & Pochard on the Lagoon (AH)

North Wall: Nothing on the Breech Pool, though there were a pair of Stonechats and a few Reed Buntings around the paddocks, c50 Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit on the fields with a large flock of Brent Geese and Wigeon, and about 150 Golden Plover came up with the huge Lapwing flock in the harbour.
Also, a flock of 3-400 Linnets was flying about the Slipe Field, where there were at least 500 Brent Geese before they flew into the harbour. (AH/IB)

Stonechat from the North Wall (AH)

Medmerry: Easton Lane to the Stilt Pool - A good selection this afternoon included two Barn Owls and a Short-eared Owl hunting over the reserve, a Merlin which buzzed the Stilt Pool, two Kestrels, a Green Sandpiper by the sluice opposite Marsh Barn, a Stonechat and 20+ Yellowhammers. (S&SaH)
Boxing Day, Saturday 26th December: Yet another mild, blustery day, though with a bit of sunshine.....

Selsey Bill: Not a lot moving, though a Bonxie was a surprise, along with a few Gannets and Kittiwakes, and a couple of Great Northern Divers were on the sea. Full log below....
(0750 to 0930hrs)  (Obs: JA/SH/SR/CN/AH)
Red-throated Diver - 1os
Great Northern Diver - 4os
Diver sp - 1E
Great Crested Grebe - 1W
Gannet - 3E, 34W
Brent Goose - 15W
Eider - 1os
Red-breasted Merganser - 3E, 4W, 3os
Great Skua - 1W
Kittiwake - 15W
Common Gull - 2W
Mediterranean Gull - 1os

Guillemot - 1W
auk sp - 4E, 3W
(1430-1600) (SH)
There was a huge, but very distant, feeding flock of 2000+ birds beyond the Mile Basket, with many large gulls and at least 500+ Gannets. Otherwise - 

Gannet - 1E, 8W + 50 closer offshore
Brent Goose - 2W
Common Scoter - 1E, 2W

Church Norton: A Marsh Harrier was over the second Several mid-morning and a Jay was present there. (S&SaH)
Not much else to report, though - a big high tide roost of 150+ Greater Black-backed Gulls was notable, whilst there were plenty of the commoner waders, plus Brent Geese, Wigeon and Teal in the harbour, and a Peregrine was on the island. Also there were about half a dozen Goldcrests and a Jay around the car-park area. (AH/SH)  
Also a Great Northern Diver was feeding near the harbour mouth, whilst offshore 3 Kittiwakes went west and 12 Red-breasted Mergansers were offshore and in the harbour and 4 Common Scoter were on the sea, plus a Grey Wagtail near Park Farm (S&SaH)

Peregrine (above), Great Black-backed Gulls & Wigeon at Church Norton (AH)

Ferry Pool: The White-fronted Goose was in with 40 Canada Geese and 50 Brent Geese on the field, whilst there were 500 or so of the latter on the water, along with 80 Shelduck and similar of Shoveler. Along the bank there were 100+ Black-tailed Godwits and about 300 Lapwing dropped in. (AH)

White-fronted Goose, Canada and Brent Geese (above) & Brent Geese at the Ferry (AH)

Pagham Lagoon/Spit: There were 30 Tufted Ducks, 20 Wigeon and three Goldeneye on the Lagoon, plus another duck that was either a Scaup or a Scaup/Tufted/hybrid.  On the spit there was a Stonechat and in the harbour there were two Pintail and two more Goldeneye. (BI)

Drake Goldeneye on Pagham Lagoon and Stonechat, Pagham Spit (BI)

possible Scaup, Tufted or hybrid Pagham Lagoon (BI)
(My own track record with such ducks as this is far from perfect!! However, although it superficially looks good for Scaup, and the rounded head shape looks ok with no hint of crest?, my alarm bells are ringing over the rather ill-defined flanks and especially the bill pattern...it appears to have a pale band before the dark nail, which itself looks rather large and ill-defined unlike Scaup....if so I would thus lean towards Scaup/Tufted hybrid, but other views welcome. OM)