Saturday, 26 January 2019

26th - 28th January 2019

Monday, 28th JanuaryA very bright and sunny morning, but decidedly cold in the fresh north-westerly breeze....

My thanks to all who have contacted me with kind comments and anecdotes in response to my comments on yesterday's blog, concerning the sad passing of Chunky King. I would just like to share one of them, from Chris Janman, which beautifully highlights why Chunky will never be forgotten..........(OM)

I was sad to hear of Ron’s passing; I know he had been frail for a while, I think I last saw him at the Elegant Tern at Church Norton when he was using a walker, but still as mustard keen as ever, and being driven by Simon. One of my first memories of Ron was at the Ferry many years ago when some rarity turned up along the footpath to Norton - he was full of jokes, smiles and laughter. He was accompanied by his faithful dog “ Dodge.“ Dodge always had a small pair of binoculars around his neck, and Ron kept his list. I suspect that Dodge had a far greater list than I did, but Ron’s list was stratospheric. Such a lovely man, mind you... remember that trip with him driving us to Stodmarsh to see Slender-billed Gull, phew that was a trip ! (CRJ)

Selsey Bill: Most of what movement there was was very distant, but a couple of Shags went east closer in and three Great Northern Divers were on the sea. Full log below.
Great Northern Diver - 3os
Great Crested Grebe - 1os
Gannet - 40E, 20os
Shag - 2E
Brent Geese - 2W
Common Scoter - 4E
Red-breasted Merganser - 6E, 5W, 10os
Mediterranean Gull - 3W, 1os
Common Gull - 2W
Kittiwake - 25E, 20os
auk sp - c100E

Great Northern Diver (above), Shag & Red-breasted Mergansers past the Bill (AH)

Pagham Hbr North Fields: A single (and very confiding) Cattle Egret was present on the North Fields this afternoon. (TG-P)

Confiding Cattle Egret at Pagham North Fields (TG-P)

Ferry Pool: A Green Sandpiper was at the back of the pool and three Curlews were on the field, but otherwise it was the usual suspects, including c300 Wigeon, c50 Lapwings, c30 Shoveler, c30 Teal and four Shelducks. (AH)

Lapwings on the Ferry (AH)

Medmerry: Porthole Farm to Ham Farm - There was not much around Porthole Farm, but along the track to Ham Farm there were 20+ Yellowhammers, at least four Reed Buntings, three Greenfinches, a pair of Stonechats, 20 Skylarks and 40 Meadow Pipits, plus a couple of Pied Wagtails, half a dozen Song Thrushes and five Red-legged Partridges.
The banks and adjacent stubble field at Ham were full of birds, with at least three singing Corn Buntings (at one point in a row along the fence), a couple of Yellowhammers, c300 Linnets, c100 Goldfinches and Meadow Pipits and c50 Skylarks, with similar numbers of the latter out over the reserve.
Also, a Peregrine was sat out on the derelict building, a Kestrel was by the farm and a handful of Dunlin and Redshank were on the tidal area. (AH)

Corn Buntings (above), Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings, Stonechat, Peregrine, Linnets, Skylark & Meadow Pipits at Medmerry (AH)

Chi GPs - Drayton Pits: The Great White Egret was again present on the south pit, viewable from the gateway beside the road. (GW)

West Wittering - Snowhill marsh: Two Curlews were present on the marsh at about 1500hrs this afternoon, apparently pairing up and doing a strange slow motion dance of sorts. A nice Greenshank was also on the marsh and showing well. (MR)

Curlews (believed female left, male right) apparently pairing up and (below) Greenshank on Snowhill marsh (MR)

Sunday, 27th JanuaryA mixture of cloud and sunny spells after some overnight rain, with a fairly strong north-westerly wind making it feel decidedly chilly throughout......

It is with great sadness that I must inform you all of the recent passing of two long-time regular visitors to the Bill.

Most of the more mature birders on the Peninsula, and indeed many other places, will have known Ron King from Hampshire - always known as "Chunky." He was especially keen on visiting the Bill in spring to see Pomarine Skuas - especially as this co-incided with his birthday in early May - and he usually brought cake and sausage rolls to celebrate and even the odd drop of fizz! Chunky was full of good humour, with a big personality which ensured plenty of lively banter, especially when he teamed up with the other Hampshire boys present. He even attended a couple of Pom parties, including one of mine in the year 2000. 
Perhaps though, Chunky was best known on the national birding scene, for he was an inveterate twitcher, with a big British List. I had the pleasure of going with him a few times, on some unforgettable journeys (!) but you could be sure that wherever he went, someone would shout "hiya Chunky." In later years as age began to catch up with him, his son Simon paired up with him and did most of the driving, adding many more species to his life list. He died last Wednesday and Birding in general will be the poorer for his passing. Our condolences go to Simon and the family....and you can bet Chunky has already started on his next list at the gates of heaven. (OM)

The late Chunky King at my Pom party in 2000 (OM)

Sadly, I also recently noted the passing of Mike Snelling from Worthing, who apparently died in the preceding week. Mike is probably much less well known to more recent Peninsula observers, for he was a rather quiet and unassuming but knowledgeable birder with a pleasant and gentlemanly manner....and in short, he was a really nice guy. Mike especially enjoyed the spring sea-watches at the Bill, though he could be found visiting throughout the year, especially in the 'golden years' of the Pontins era. 
He became less frequent in his appearances in latter years, though I would occasionally bump into him at other places, and quite by chance, I met him up at West Dean Woods, looking for Hawfinches early in this month. We had a pleasant catch-up chat and eventually said our goodbyes when he had to return home. Little did I realise it would be our final goodbye and he passed away barely a week later. I didn't know Mike's family, but offer my deepest sympathy to them. Rest in peace my friend. (OM)

This shot from the south-east corner at the Bill dates from May 2003 and shows the late Chunky King serving up birthday cake to the gallery of observers. Nearest the camera (facing away) is the late Mike Snelling, (sadly the only shot of him I can so far trace), whilst next to him is anon, with Richard Prior smiling towards the camera and the late Barry Carter beyond him, scoping.
(In memory of all our absent friends from the Bill) (OM)

Selsey Bill: Large numbers of auks, Gannets and Kittiwakes re-appeared today, after dwindling counts over recent days, though little else was on the move. Full log below.(JA/BI/IP/AH)
Great Northern Diver - 2os
Red-throated Diver - 2E, 2os
diver sp - 1E
Great Crested Grebe - 1os
Fulmar - 1W
Gannet - 382E, 731W, 60os
Brent Goose - 1W
Red-breasted Merganser - 9E, 6W, 8os
Sanderling - 1E
Kittiwake - 154E, 90W
Razorbill - 26E, 64W
Guillemot - 1E, 3W
auk sp - 1796E, 18W

Red-throated Divers (above) & Gannets at the Bill (AH)

Ferry Pool: There were at least 400 Wigeon around the pool and field, along with two Black-tailed Godwits, c30 Shoveler and c60 Teal, with a least 500 Lapwings on the field. Also a Kingfisher was briefly in the channel opposite and a Grey Wagtail flew over. (AH)

Black-tailed Godwits and Wigeon (above) & Wigeon on the Ferry (AH)

Church Norton: There was not much going on this morning, though a big flock of Dunlin plus a few Knot and Grey Plover, were near the old harbour mouth, one of the Peregrines was on their island, a few Shelduck, Wigeon and Teal were scattered about and a Firecrest was briefly in the car-park. (AH/IP)

Shelducks (above) & Dunlin at Church Norton (AH)

There was little of note in the harbour this afternoon, either, save a few Brent Geese, whilst two Pheasants were squaring up in Rectory Lane, with another looking on. (R Porter)

Pheasants at Church Norton (R Porter)

Saturday, 26th January: A mostly grey, if fairly mild, morning, with a freshening north-westerly breeze.....

Selsey Bill: The big feeding flocks seemed to have moved on, but there was a bit of interest, including a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull east and three Slavonian Grebes and an Eider on the sea. Full log below. (AH/BI/IP)
Great Northern Diver - 1W
Red-throated Diver - 12E, 4W, 1os
Slavonian Grebe - 3os, then E
Gannet - 25E
Eider - 1os
Common Scoter - 2E, 6W
Red-breasted Merganser - 10E, 5W, 5os
Yellow-legged Gull - 1E
Mediterranean Gull - 1W
Common Gull - 2W
Kittiwake - 20E, 4W
Razorbill - 30E, 12W
auk sp - 100E, 30W

Red-throated Divers (above) & Red-breasted Merganser past the Bill (AH)

Ferry Pool: There were 50 Golden Plovers among c800 Lapwings on the field, with c300 Wigeon, c30 Shoveler and c60 Teal around the pool. (AH)

Golden Plovers and Lapwings (above) & Shoveler on the Ferry (AH)

Later on, up to 220 Golden Plovers were among the Lapwings on the field. (R Porter)

Golden Plovers at the Ferry (R Porter)

Medmerry: Porthole Farm - This morning there was a Marsh Harrier over the farm and a flock of ten Yellowhammers were nearby. (AW)

Marsh Harrier (above) &Yellowhammers at Porthole Farm (AW)

Park Farm, Selsey: A dozen Curlews were on the uncropped field, with a Stonechat along the wheat fields, whilst a Grey Wagtail was in the paddocks on Park Lane. Also, c250 Golden Plover appeared over from the Medmerry direction. (AH/IP/RM)

Grey Wagtail (above) & Curlews at Park Farm, Selsey (AH)

Church Norton: A lone Guillemot, the 15 Common Scoters and a couple of Great Crested Grebes were all that could be found on the sea, whilst a group of five Red-throated Divers went distantly east and a Red-breasted Merganser went west.
An Avocet, a couple Bar-tailed Godwits and 30 Ringed Plovers were among many of the commoner waders, one of the Peregrines was present as were 20 Mediterranean and five Common Gulls,and at least 1500 Lapwings went up several times over the North Wall.
Both Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker were heard, but passerines of note were restricted to the pair of Stonechats in the horse field and a few Skylarks along the spit. (AH/IP/RM/P&JW)

Avocet (above), Bar-tailed Godwit, Mediterranean Gull & Skylark at Church Norton (AH)

Later on, a redhead Goosander was showing well in the harbour. (AW)

Goosander at Church Norton (AW)

Medmerry: Easton Lane to the Stilt Pool - There were at least 2800 Brent Geese present on the Stilt Pools and surrounds this morning, at one time all taking to the air at once as the Royal Navy Bomb Disposal team made a very large bang offshore! 
Also present here were a few Wigeon, Shoveler, Gadwall and Tufted Ducks but the only wader seen was a Greenshank. Along the banks there were a few Meadow Pipits and Skylarks and around the feeding station were good numbers of House Sparrows, Starlings and a few Yellowhammers. (BI)

Chichester Gravel Pits: Ivy Lake was largely quiet other than 12 Pochards and the flock of Canada Geese; Nunnery and Deep Lake had Coots and Gadwall present but there was nothing at all on Copse and Triangle. West Trout Lake was quiet as usual but the East lake had 22 Greylag Geese, a Bar-headed Goose and another flock of Canada Geese present. 
On New Lake there were good numbers of Shoveler with at least 170 there along with a scattering of Tufted Ducks & Gadwall. (BI)

Drayton Pit: The Great White Egret was in its usual spot, viewable from the gate, this afternoon. (AW)

Great White Egret and Grey Heron on Drayton Pit (AW)

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