Friday, 23 October 2020

23rd - 25th October 2020

Sunday, 25th October: A miserable morning with heavy grey cloud, frequent and prolonged periods of rain and a strong S/SW wind force 6-7.

Editorial: In accordance with our usual policy, we posted yesterday's initial report of the juvenile Long-tailed Skua as soon after the sighting as we possibly could - although it has since been re-identified an an Arctic Skua - a situation that has created much debate this end and which not everyone is still totally happy with! Whilst we pride ourselves on putting out full daily reports on the actual day - not a day or two after the event like most blogs and websites - the skua situation highlights a bit of a dilemma that we occasionally face, when such a tricky ID is presented to us.

As such, we don't currently have the luxury of being able to fully scrutinise every minute detail or to seek expert opinion, circulate photos for consultation and get detailed analysis before considering 'going live' and so occasionally situations such as the skua ID could re-occur. Perhaps we should now re-consider our policy; none of us is an expert, although there is a fair bit of experience on the team, but, yes, we can face problems beyond our experience and then we are not too proud to seek advice. If we were to delay the news for a day or so it may avoid some awkward moments, but then again, would you, the readership, be happy with such delay? We think not.

Since we started the blog in 2013, there have been a few occasions when we have sought ID opinions of certain birds by posting requests for comments on the blog, plus social media, Twitter etc. The response is usually under-whelming, with few people sticking their heads 'above the parapet' by offering ID opinions and helpful comments (though admittedly a few do). Contrast this to the situation when we decide to be bold and actually post a suggested ID.....there is usually a good response and once an alternative ID is firmly mooted, there are usually plenty of follow-up comments from wiser folk (who have now done their armchair research!)

We do like to be correct with our information and be prompt with the local news too, so should there be the odd hiccup or delay in future we do ask for your understanding and at least you will know why. After all, no-one is infallible and all the best birders admit to mistakes!   (Eds)

Selsey Bill: Highlights today were a Red-necked Grebe that settled offshore awhile before flying off east, two Great Northern Divers, a Bonxie and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose west. Full log below...
(0610-0900hrs) (S/SSW, F6)  (SH/BI/IP/JA/AH/SR/CRJ)
Great Northern Diver - 1W, 1os
Great Crested Grebe - 1E, 2W
Red-necked Grebe - 1 os then E 0815hrs
Gannet - 2E, 45W
Brent Goose - 1E, 3W (one Pale-bellied)
Common Scoter - 1E
Red-breasted Merganser - 1E
Ringed Plover - 1E
Turnstone - 15 ob
Great Skua - 1W
Common Gull - 1W
Mediterranean Gull - 13W, 2os
Kittiwake - 1E, 29W
Sandwich Tern - 1E
Pied Wagtail - 1W
Linnet - 12W

Kittiwake (above), Pale-bellied Brent Goose, Gannets & a hail-storm on the sea at the Bill (AH)

Ferry Pool: There were 12 Avocets on the pool this morning, but otherwise it was standard fare, including c40 Shovelers, 12 Shelducks, 100+ Teal and Wigeon and c150 Lapwings. (AH)

Avocets (above) & Teal on the Ferry (AH)

Park Farm, Selsey: Two Pied Wagtails and a few Meadow Pipits went over, whilst the fields held 50 or so Curlews and lots of Mediterranean Gulls. Also, two Swallows were over the Park Copse area. (IP) Also a Skylark went over the north of Selsey and a couple of Chiffchaffs were in the hedges. (S&SaH)

Church Norton: A Slavonian Grebe was offshore this morning. (RJS)
A Wheatear was on the concrete blocks, whilst a male Dartford Warbler, a Blackcap,  two Chiffchaffs, two Stonechats, three Goldcrests and a few Long-tailed Tits were around the Severals, along with two Song Thrushes and six Reed Buntings, plus two Swallows and three Siskins went over.
The harbour was quiet, though there were a Greenshank, a Black-tailed Godwit, three Grey Plovers and a small flock of Dunlin about, a Kingfisher flew around briefly and a Swallow went over. (IP/S&SaH)

Pagham Lagoon: At least half a dozen Chiffchaffs were around the bushes by the boardwalk, whilst a pair of Stonechats were along the gorse, but the lagoon itself held just a dozen Little Grebes, eight Great Crested Grebes and c30 Tufted Ducks. (AH)

Chiffchaff (above), Stonechat & Little Grebe and Tufted Duck around Pagham Lagoon (AH)

Pagham Spit: The changes to the spit are quite dramatic, with the bank of the little lagoon well and truly breached and quite a narrow strip of ground separating the harbour from the sea, whilst the bungalows along the beach that looked in deep peril a year ago now have quite a buffer against the sea in front of them.
Bird-wise, the spit was very quiet, with c40 Linnets and c20 Meadow Pipits along the path the only birds noted, whilst the harbour held c60 Brent Geese, a dozen Little Egrets, five Great Crested Grebes and a scattering of regular waders and wildfowl. (AH)

Linnets (above) & views of the changing landscape at Pagham Spit (AH)

Ivy Lake Complex: Ivy Lake held nine Great Crested Grebes, 28 Tufted Ducks, five Little Grebes, 22 Canada Geese, five Mute Swans, a Grey Heron and c100 Coot but nothing else could be found, though there were five Cetti's Warblers and two Chiffchaffs were heard, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker and two flocks of Long-tailed Tits were in the trees. 
East Lake held two Egyptian Geese and New Lake had 16 Shoveler, four Great Crested Grebes and two Little Grebes, but most birds were sensibly out of sight and sheltering from the rain! (SR)

Shovelers (above) & Great spotted Woodpecker around Ivy Lake (SR)

Saturday, 24th October: A grey and very windy morning, with a south-westerly freshening to gale force and the occasional heavy shower...... 

Selsey Bill: A distant Balearic Shearwater west and two Merlins were the highlights of a fairly quiet morning. Full log below. (SH/JA/PB/BI/IP/SR/MO-W)
(0715-1000hrs) (SSW, F6)
Red-throated Diver - 2W
Balearic Shearwater - 1W
Gannet - 10E, 67W
Shag - 1E
Brent Goose - 22W
Common Scoter - 1E
Merlin - 2W
Turnstone - 8
Mediterranean Gull - 3W
Kittiwake - 7E, 15W
Sandwich Tern - 1W
Razorbill - 4W
auk sp - 4E, 20W
Meadow Pipit - 1N
Pied Wagtail - 3W

Later, at around 1400hrs, a juvenile skua was observed flying west, cutting directly over the end of the Bill, then heading along the beach almost overhead, allowing photos to be obtained (AW). In the photos this bird immediately appeared rather greyish/cold toned overall, with longish, rather slim and pointed wings, some paleness to the breast, tiny stubby tail projections and rather small billed, with paleness at the base becoming darker towards the tip. The general consensus was that it had to be a Long-tailed Skua based on these features, so the news was put out accordingly.

Later however, when the photos had been circulated more widely, doubts began to emerge about this ID, with a number of people suggesting it was in fact a juv Arctic Skua. Crucially, closer scrutiny revealed that despite the lack of warmer plumage tones, the bird had two small but clearly-pointed (not blunt or rounded) tail projections and a bill that was fairly narrow and just dark-tipped (both visible on enlarged images), plus a couple of more minor features suggesting Arctic.

This has been an instructive and useful occurrence prompting much debate, but we are grateful to all those contributors who have assisted in bringing about what we consider the correct ID.  (Eds)

Juvenile Arctic Skua (initially considered to be a Long-tailed) heading west at Selsey Bill (AW)

(1400-1600hrs) (SH/JA)
Balearic Shearwater - 2W (1455 & 1500hrs)
Gannet - 1E, 134W
Common Scoter - 1W
Mediterranean Gull - 6W
Kittiwake - 5W
auk sp - 1W

Ferry Pool:
The Spotted Redshank was again in Ferry Channel this morning, along with half a dozen Black-tailed Godwits, whilst a Snipe and c150 Lapwing were on a pool full of wildfowl, including c40 Shovelers, ten Shelducks and 100+ Wigeon and Teal. 
Also, seven Egyptian Geese flew off towards Medmerry early on. (AH)

Spotted Redshank (above), Snipe & Egyptian Geese around the Ferry (AH)

Church Norton: A Merlin shot through the harbour, whilst out on the mud there were a Bar-tailed Godwit, three or four Black-tailed Godwits, a lone Knot, c20 Grey Plovers and c40 Dunlin and Turnstones, with 20 or so Brent Geese, a Common Gull and a few Mediterranean Gulls also about. 
Offshore there were a handful of Gannets and a single Great Crested Grebe, but passerines were few beyond half a dozen Swallows, a Chiffchaff and a Jay around the sheltered hedges. (AH/S&SaH/PB)

Swallow (above), Jay, Mediterranean Gull & Grey Plover at Church Norton (AH)

Friday, 23rd October: Another morning with a brisk south-westerly blowing, though greyer than yesterday, if warm in the odd sunny interludes...... 

Selsey Bill: A fairly quiet morning was livened up by the appearance of lots of Kittiwakes, with a flock of 84 apparently coming off the sea near the Mile Basket and heading west and more coming in to settle offshore before drifting off again. 
Also, seven Redwings west were of note among a limited amount of passerine migration. Full log below. (BI/RP/AH)
(0700-0945hrs) (SW, F4-5)
Gannet - 6E, 25W, c50os
Shag - 1E, 1os
Brent Goose - 9W
Common Scoter - 10W
Turnstone - 6
Mediterranean Gull - 7E, 10W
Common Gull - 6W
Kittiwake - 20E, 138W, 44os
auk sp - 1E, 2W
Wood Pigeon - 19W
Stock Dove - 3W
Meadow Pipit - 9E, 36W
Pied Wagtail - 22W
Redwing - 7W
Linnet - 18E
Reed Bunting - 2W

Redwings (above), Kittiwakes, Shag & Gannet at the Bill (AH)

Just after 5pm there was a Rock Pipit briefly on the beach at the Bill before flying off west, and a Common Gull was passing along the shoreline, also going west. (AW)

Rock Pipit (above) & Common Gull at the Bill (AW)

Ferry Pool: A Kingfisher went along the rife, whilst the pool held plenty of wildfowl again, including c40 Shovelers, ten Shelducks, c50 Teal and c150 Wigeon, along with c60 Lapwing and just a couple of Black-tailed Godwits, with another six of the latter and c50 Teal in the channel opposite.
Another Kingfisher and a Water Rail were in Red Barn Ditch, along with a Cetti's Warbler a Redshank and a Little Egret, whilst the Tramway held a few Chiffchaffs and Long-tailed Tits, with seven Meadow Pipits going over. There were also two Common Lizards along the path. (SR/AH)

Shovelers (above), Wigeon (AH) & Common Lizards (SR) around the Ferry 

Medmerry: Easton Lane - There was no sign of the probable Stejneger's Stonechat this morning, with just a few Swallows over of note. (IP)

Long Pool: A Kingfisher and a Spotted Redshank were in Ferry Channel this evening, along with plenty of Wigeon and Teal, whilst six Shovelers were on the pool and a pair of Stonechats and a handful of Reed Buntings were along the hedges. (AH)

Kingfisher (above), Spotted Redshank and a spectacular rainbow in Ferry Channel (AH)

Church Norton: A Water Rail that popped out from the bank along the path to the beach was unusual, but otherwise it was quiet, with just a few Reed Buntings and Goldfinches along the front and little in the other sheltered hedges, though up to 20 Swallows were still around.
The fields along Rectory Lane were quite busy, though, with at least 100 Linnets and 50 or so Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails, plus a couple of Skylarks present, along with a few Mediterranean Gulls among the many Black-headed Gulls.
The harbour was fairly quiet, though a couple of Bar-tailed Godwits and a few Brent Geese were present, whilst at least six Great Crested Grebes were along the main channel. (AH/RI/SB et al)

Water Rail (above), Swallow, Meadow Pipit & Linnets at Church Norton (AH)

Halsey’s Farm/Owl Point: The walk was rather depressing this morning as many of the hedges in the area have been flailed back to the fenceline over the past day or two. The area by the footpath which has been a nice little haven for small birds recently had noticeably none today.
Elsewhere, a Jay was present and a few Meadow Pipits went over the harbour. (BI)

Fishbourne Creek: On the falling tide this morning at Fishbourne there were 53 Lapwing, 8 Greenshank, 7 Ringed Plover and a Snipe whilst Oystercatcher, Redshank, Curlew, Grey Plover were well scattered with just a few Black-tailed Godwit and a group of 10 Turnstone. In the channel Wigeon were plentiful with just a few Teal, there were about 30 Brent Geese between the Lavant Outfall and Dell Quay, whilst a Black Swan was also off Dell Quay. 
The multitudes of gulls were mainly Black-headed, Common and Herring with 4 Great Black-backed, a Lesser Black-backed and a possible Yellow-legged Gull. 
The hedges in the field to the south of the Lavant Outfall held a few Reed Bunting and 3 Stonechat and for a period a Kestrel perched on a hawthorn, whilst at least 2 Rock Pipits were present on the foreshore. (RW)

                               Black Swan at Dell Quay and Kestrel at Fishbourne channel (RW)

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