Tuesday, 26 January 2016

26th - 28th January 2016

Thursday, 28th JanuaryAn absolute contrast to yesterday, bright and chilly with plenty of sunshine and just a light W/SW breeze....

The pleasantly sunny day drew out plenty of birders to the Peninsula this morning, plus one or two less regular visitors, including a small and welcome contingent from Beachy (R. Haggar et al) and that old Selsey pioneer Tony Marr (visiting from Norfolk), who joined me for the day (OM).

Church Norton: A second-winter Glaucous Gull was offshore from the spit early this afternoon, though it could not be refound later. (IL)

Glaucous Gull off Church Norton (IL)

A quick look earlier on produced the Whimbrel, a Great Northern Diver offshore and a Red-breasted Merganser and both Peregrines in the harbour. (AH)

Two Peregrines were on the island later with 5 roosting Bar-tailed Godwits and some Curlews. In the harbour were 5 Goldeneye, several Mediterranean Gulls and a single Yellow-legged Gull. The  wintering Whimbrel was still near the bench and we heard a couple of Chiffchaffs around the church yard. (BFF/DM)

 Curlew and Mediterranean Gull at Church Norton (DM)

Whimbrel at Church Norton (AH)

Selsey Bill (0800-1015hrs): WSW3-4  Fine   (Obs: C&ME/SR)  
Red-throated Diver - 3E, 1W, 1os
Great Northern Diver - 3os
Diver sp - 2W
Great Crested Grebe - 2W
Gannet - 1E
Eider - 1os
Common Scoter - 1E, 2os 
Red-breasted Merganser - 2E, 14W, 10os    
Dunlin - 30W
Mediterranean Gull  - 2E                

1200-1245hrs: A very casual look produced 5 Mediterranean Gulls close inshore amongst Black-headed Gulls, but little else of note. During a short tour of the Bill-tip, BAEM pointed out the site of the original old Obs hut, and nearby the previous breeding site for Cirl Bunting, both dating from the early 1960's! A brief social gathering then put paid to any further sea-watching..... (OM/BAEM). 

Yours truly, with Bernie Forbes (centre) and BAEM 'Tony' Marr (right)...draw your own conclusions...!
Medmerry: Easton Lane area - The Dartford Warbler was in the Marsh Barn area again this morning. (PS)

North Wall: The controversial female Scaup or hybrid resurfaced this morning on the Breech Pool, and a Spotted Redshank was in White's Creek. (OM/BAEM) The ID of this Aythya duck has been the subject of much discussion and some disagreement for a while (not least between the editors) and indeed there is the possibility that more than one bird may be involved (yes, the two-bird theory!) However, as regards today's bird, my feeling is that it is a hybrid: this is based on a combination of factors rather than a single one, including overall small size no different than a Tufted, head shape which looks fine sometimes but less so at others, no pale cheek patch, overall mantle/flank colouration and especially small bill with too much dark on tip (no neat nail) and a possible pale band behind the dark tip. When first seen, this bird appears a candidate for a Scaup ID, until further scrutiny reveals these apparent defects. I was pleased to have BAEM along this morning, who came to the same conclusions as me - but I doubt we've heard the last of it! (OM).

Presumed Aythya hybrid resembling female Scaup, Breech Pool this morning. Apologies for cropping resulting in some blurring. (above) - note extensive white blaze but shape of head whilst preening, (below), apparent Scaup head shape but smallish size, smallish bill, fairly uniform mantle flank colour, but note the hint of an apparent pale bill band behind the darker tip. (OM)

These two shots show the bird in company with a female Tufted Duck. Note that here the birds seem virtually identical in size, structure and bill shape and size. The hybrid's white blaze shows up, but the head shape looks a little flatter and less rounded here - is there also a mere hint of a tuft or peak at the back of the head? (OM)

The presumed hybrid here shows a large white blaze, but note the pale bill band and a faint peak to the rear of the head (JDW)
Additionally, the Brent Geese flock was on the Church Farm golf course early on. There was a lot of disturbance in the Harbour and the Lapwing were continually taking flight.... at one point there were 2200 in Honer 1 field with several hundred still swirling around in the Harbour. Nine Grey Herons were involved in nest refurbishment in Owl Copse, apart from one who appeared to be sunbathing. The Brent Geese eventually settled in the field north of Bremere bridge, where I counted 2400. There were also 210 Curlew in this field plus a further 120 in Honer 1, 2 and 3 fields, including one very light coloured individual. Four Roe Deer near Halseys Farm. (JDW) Also a couple of Song Thrushes were stridently singing near the entrance track (OM/BAEM).
Song Thrush at the North wall area (OM)

Grey Herons: above sunbathing near Breech Pool and roosting at Owl Copse, plus group of Roe Deer (JDW)

Ferry Pool: There were 30 Redshank and a few Teal on the pool and at least 1000 Lapwing, 100 Brent Geese and 100 Wigeon on the fields. (AH)

Redshanks on the Ferry (AH)

Fishbourne Creek: A Coal Tit was in Apuldram church car-park this morning, along with a few Goldcrests, but no sign of the Firecrest in the area, whilst there were at least 30 Yellowhammers around the riding school.
There were a couple of Spotted Redshank and a Greenshank near the quay and the Whimbrel was along the east side, but generally wader numbers were low, bar a 100 or so Black-tailed Godwits. At least a dozen Rock Pipits and a few Reed Buntings were along the harbour edge, a Cetti's Warbler called from the reeds and there were a couple of hundred Wigeon on the water. (AH)

Rock Pipits (above), Spotted Redshank, Reed Bunting & Black-tailed Godwits at Fishbourne Creek (AH)

Chichester Harbour: What a lovely day; crisp and frosty with blue skies, which put a smile on the face of nearly everyone we met...... (BFF/DM)
East Head: Walked out to the north end of the Head but not much in the channel of note, except a distant Sandwich Tern. Between the Head and Thorney/Pilsea were 7 Slavonian Grebes & 2 Great Northern Divers with 12 Red-breasted Mergansers.
Snowhill Marsh:  a lone Greenshank, 2 Water Rails and a singing Cetti's Warbler.
Chichester Marina: little noted.... they are still repairing the lock gates, therefore no access. (BFF/DM)

Wednesday, 27th January: Grey, wet and windy, with SW gales and rain predicted to last through most of the daylight hours... a foul day!

Readers will note that the pages section (under the title page) has been amended and the 'From the Archives' pages have now been removed, having served their purpose. In future an occasional such article may appear in the main text from time to time, whilst other pages are currently being reviewed and/or updated where necessary. (OM) 

Selsey Bill: Forty minutes from 8.10am produced just three Red-breasted Mergansers east and a dozen Black-headed Gulls on the field. (AH)
0915-1107hrs: (CRJ) A sea-watch from the east side of the Bill-tip, (wind SW 5-6, rain showers,) until tide and weather forced me off, produced a meagre total of;
Gannet - 4W
Eider - 1os
Red-breasted Merganser - 1E (male), 1W (fem), 1os
Kittiwake - 3W 
Ferry Pool: At least 100 Black-tailed Godwits on the field and a dozen on the pool with c500 Lapwing and 25 Redshank. A huge flock of Brent Geese - perhaps 1500 birds - was also at the back of the fields, along with 100+ Wigeon. (AH)

Black-tailed Godwits, Lapwing and Shelduck on the Ferry (AH)

Church Norton: Surprisingly, given the conditions, the Dartford Warbler popped its head up briefly at the end of Reedy Marsh, and there were one or two Goldcrests and Long-tailed Tits about, too. Not much in the harbour, though there were still 250 Knot and 500 Dunlin, plus the usual scattering of Grey Plovers, Redshank and Curlew on the mud. (AH)

Knot at Church Norton (AH)

Medmerry: There were two Green Sandpipers on the track near Chainbridge this morning and two Red-breasted Mergansers on the Stilt pools (PH).

Tuesday, 26th January: A pleasant, if breezy, start, but forecast to go downhill during the day....which it duly did with strong winds and rain!

Selsey Bill: (0800-0915hrs) (AH/JD/DS)
Great Northern Diver - 1E, 2W, 3os (all different birds)
Red-throated Diver - 1E
Gannet - 1E, 2W
Fulmar - 1E
Brent Goose - 3W
Eider - 1os
Red-breasted Merganser - 2E, 3W, 3os
Common Gull - 2W

Ferry Pool: Around 40 Redshank, 25 Curlew, 1200 Lapwing, 20 Teal, 20 Shoveler, 60 Wigeon and 150 Brent Geese on the pool and adjoining fields this morning. (AH)

Lapwing (above) & Shoveler at the Ferry (AH)

Medmerry Breach: About 20 Ringed Plover, 15 Grey Plover and 50 Dunlin this morning, plus four Red-breasted Mergansers. No sign of the Black Redstart today, though it was present yesterday. (DM/HR)

Church Norton: The Spoonbill was in the harbour again, as was a Peregrine, two pairs of Red-breasted Mergansers and up to 350 Knot in with at least 1000 Dunlin. there were barely 50 Wigeon or Teal about, though at least 500 Brent geese were at the other end. Also there were about a dozen Skylarks along the spit, and there were a few Common and Mediterranean Gulls about. (AH/JD/DS/DM/HR)

Spoonbill (above), Skylark, Wigeon, Knot & Mediterranean and Black-headed Gull at Church Norton (AH)

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