Tuesday, 1 December 2020

1st - 3rd December 2020

Thursday, 3rd DecemberA really miserable day, with leaden skies, and more or less continuous bands of rain blown through on a freshening south-westerly.....

Editorial: As the eagerly anticipated latest edition of the Sussex Bird Report landed heavily on my doormat, I felt a surge of excitement as I normally do around this time each year and hurried to get stuck into it. It didn't disappoint; timely, detailed, packed with information, well presented and illustrated throughout and overall a fine piece of work as befits a vigorous county ornithological society. There is also the added spice of seeing what scarcer or rare species have occurred through the relevant year, having been officially accepted by the relevant county or national rarities committee as appropriate.

If you are reading this you are presumably interested in the Peninsula's birds in this part of West Sussex at least. As a member of the Sussex Ornithological Society (SOS) you receive the annual report for free - surely worth the modest membership subscription alone - but if not I truly recommend  you consider joining, or at least obtain a copy of the report (www.sos.org.uk). 

Just out - the latest SOS Bird report 2019

So, whilst reading about the various birding data and excitements to be found in the report, I came across a bit of information that stopped me in my tracks....it was the sea-watching table of hours watched at the five major sites in Sussex. I thought for a second it was a misprint before realising it was absolutely genuine, but in short, the sea-watching effort at Selsey Bill had absolutely dwarfed that of each of the other sites in 2019!

I well recall that back in the mists of time when I had a good deal more hair and the Selsey Pom King competition had just begun, the whole thrust of the idea was to get observers to put in more sea-watching effort and longer hours....little did I realise that over 40 years later the effort  and enthusiasm would be stronger than ever. Amazing. A team of local birders are still doing it and I do include myself (though I confess I've eased back a bit of late!)....so much so that this current year has seen at least some sea-watching effort on EVERY day and this will surely continue to the year's end, setting another record. Well done to all who keep the tradition alive and watch at the Bill. It's no wonder that more scarce or rare birds are now turning up with that sort of effort!

Extract of data from the Sussex Bird Report 2019 (with thanks). Wow!

I cannot end without mentioning the photographic illustrations in the Bird Report and the efforts of a certain editor. Yes, the work of our own AH appears quite a number of times; how he does it is beyond my understanding, given that he only uses the same model of bridge camera as me, but I've even seen him using it one-handed and still finding the target in his viewfinder, clicking away whilst answering the phone, all while I'm still struggling to even locate the bird! Well done Andy.  (OM) 

Selsey Bill: There was little beyond a few of the regular species this morning. Full log below. (AH/SR/RP)
(0740-0840hrs) (SW, F4-5)
Red-throated Diver - 1E, 2os
Gannet - 4W
Shag - 1E
Common Scoter - 6E, 2W, 8os
Red-breasted Merganser - 6E
Turnstone - 2
Mediterranean Gull - 13W
Common Gull - 6W
auk sp - 12W

Mediterranean Gull at the Bill (AH)

This afternoon a 1st-winter Little Gull was among the gull flock off of Hillfield Road. (AW)

Little Gull at the Bill (AW)

Ferry Pool: At least 500 Lapwings were around the pool and adjacent fields this morning, along with five Black-tailed Godwits, four Shelducks, c30 Wigeon, c40 Teal and c60 Shovelers. (AH

Shovelers (above) & Shelduck at the Ferry (AH)

Church Norton: The trusty Whimbrel was present this morning, along with c25 Grey Plovers, c100 Dunlin and a handful of Redshanks and Curlews, whilst wildfowl comprised of c20 Pintail, Teal and Brent Geese and up to 50 Wigeon. (AH)

Pintail (above), Whimbrel & Grey Plover at Church Norton (AH)

Wednesday, 2nd December: After a glorious sunrise, a fairly cold, grey morning with barely a breath of breeze.....

Selsey Bill: It was similar to recent days, though four Eider went west and a Slavonian Grebe was on the sea. Full log below. (AH/SR/RP/MO-W)
(0720-0850hrs) (NW, F2)
Great Northern Diver - 1os
Red-throated Diver - 2E
Slavonian Grebe - 1os
Gannet - 14W, 15os
Brent Goose - 1W
Shelduck - 1W
Eider - 2E, 4W
Common Scoter - 4E, 7W, 8os
Red-breasted Merganser - 4W, 9os
Oystercatcher - 1E
Turnstone - 3
Common Gull - 4W
Kittiwake - 1W

Eider (above), Red-throated Diver and dawn at the Bill (AH)

Ferry Pool: At least 800 Lapwings were on the pool this morning, along with 20 Black-tailed Godwits, three Snipe, c40 Teal and c75 Shovelers. (AH/IL/TG-P)
Later on, what was presumably the Marsh Farm Glossy Ibis was reported from Ferry Field, (per RSPB twitter) and the lone white-fronted Goose was seen again. (RI/SB)

Lapwings on the Ferry (AH)

Long Pool: Two Spotted Redshanks were at the far end of Ferry Channel, along with a few Redshank, Wigeon and Teal, whilst a first-winter Mediterranean Gull was on the fields opposite and a pair of Stonechats and half a dozen Reed Buntings were along the hedges. (AH)

Spotted Redshank (above), Mediterranean Gull & Reed Bunting along the Long Pool (AH)

Birdham: A Marsh Harrier came off the channel and flew over farmland at Westlands Farm, Birdham, heading south this morning. (GT)

North Wall: A Marsh Harrier was again present this morning, two Song Thrushes and two Fieldfares were in the hawthorns while a Snipe was flushed from the fields. 
Several hundred Lapwings were on the wing overhead and there was constant traffic of Brent Geese moving both north and south over the harbour. (IH)
Later, along the North Wall were pairs of Stonechats and Wrens, three Reed Buntings, 26 Fieldfares and three Redwings and a pair of Marsh Harriers were quartering the reeds behind the Breech Pool. 
Also, in my garden nearby there were two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, two Jays and a Coal Tit.(JDW)

Marsh Farm, Sidlesham: The Glossy Ibis was still present this morning, along with 37 Cattle Egrets, but there was no sign of any geese.
Also, a pair of Stonechats and plenty of Meadow Pipits were along Church Farm Lane. (AH/RI/SB et al)

Glossy Ibis (above), Cattle Egrets & Stonechat at Marsh Farm, Sidlesham (AH)

Pagham LagoonThere were just six Little and two Great Crested Grebes plus five Tufted Ducks on the lagoon this morning. (JDW)

Honer Reservoir: It was much as yesterday, with the male Goldeneye 14 Gadwall, six Shovelers and nine Tufted Ducks present.  (JDW)

Shovelers (above) & Gadwall at Honer Reservoir (JDW)

Medmerry: Easton Lane to the Stilt Pool - The banks were fairly quiet this morning, though a Dartford Warbler was heard near Marsh Barn and eight Stonechats, three Yellowhammers, a Chiffchaff, eight Stock Doves, a Pied Wagtail, eight Meadow Pipits and a Green Woodpecker also seen, an c500 Brent Geese were out on the reserve.
The Stilt Pool had three Dunlin, 18 Ringed Plovers and Lapwings on it, along with two Little Egrets and six Gadwall, whilst a Snipe dropped into a nearby scrape. (SR)

Green Woodpecker at Medmerry (SR)

East Beach: A Guillemot was close inshore this morning. (Coastal JJ)

East Head: The two Snow Buntings were still present today. (LGRE)

Snow Buntings at East Head (LGRE)

Tuesday, 1st December: A lovely crisp and sunny morning, with just a light to moderate north-westerly breeze.....

Selsey Bill: It was a fairly quiet morning, though one or two divers and Common Scoters were about. Full log below. (MO-W/RP/AH/IP)
(0715-0845hrs) (NW, F3-4)
Great Northern Diver - 1os
Red-throated Diver - 2E, 1W
Gannet - 2W, 4os
Shag - 1E
Brent Goose - 14E, 11W
Common Scoter - 1E, 14W, 6os
Red-breasted Merganser - 2E, 2W, 1os
Oystercatcher - 1W
Turnstone - 9
Mediterranean Gull - 2W
auk sp - 10W

Later, a drake Eider was seen offshore, heading west. (LGRE)

Shag at the Bill (AH)

Ferry Pool: A flock of 15 White-fronted Geese were on the field this morning, before being flushed by a Chinook helicopter, though another one flew in from the west and landed shortly afterwards.
Also, a Ruff was briefly at the back of the pool, and there were plenty of roosting birds, including four Avocets, c100 Black-tailed Godwits, c400 Lapwing, six Gadwall, c30 Teal and c60 Shovelers, with a Chiffchaff in the hedge opposite. (IL/AH)

White-fronted Geese (above), Snipe & Chiffchaff around the Ferry (AH)

Marsh Farm, Sidlesham: The Glossy Ibis was on its own in the fields opposite the farm,  though there were still 40-50 Cattle Egrets about, whilst the five White-fronted Geese had moved into the fields towards Bramber Farm and were later joined by two more birds (presumably the two seen earlier at the North Wall - see below). 
Also seen were c30 Fieldfares, two Reed Buntings, five Shelducks, eight Meadow Pipits and three Buzzards. (SR/JDW)
The seven White-fronted Geese still feeding on grass near the rife at 1540hrs, and there were also three Greylag Geese over, 45 Cattle Egrets, two Kestrels, a male Sparrowhawk and a Redwing present. (CRJ)

Glossy Ibis (above), White-fronted Geese (SR) & Cattle Egrets (JDW) at Marsh Farm, Sidlesham

Honer Reservoir: A drake Goldeneye was on the reservoir this morning and also there were 14 Gadwall and six Shovelers. (JDW)

Goldeneye on Honer reservoir and Brent Geese in nearby fields (JDW)

East Head: A juvenile White-fronted Goose was on the fields near the new café building before being flushed by a dog, whilst the two Snow Buntings were still present at the far end of the head. (BL)

Fishbourne Creek: There were two pairs of Goldeneye on the water this morning, whilst also seen were a Jack Snipe, two Rock Pipits, seven Greenshanks and two Spotted Redshanks. (PB)
Also, nearby, a Red Kite was over the Fishbourne Roundabout on the A27. (NH)
Early afternoon, near Dell Quay, there were still six Greenshank and three Spotted Redshanks. (LGRE)

North Wall: A Marsh Harrier was again flying north of the Breech Pool this morning but there was little else to see along the Wall. The main action was overhead where Brent Geese were moving in groups of ever-increasing size from out in the harbour to, mainly, the mitigation fields east of Honer Farm until there were about 1,000 grazing there at 9.30 am. (IH)
A bit later, two White-fronted Geese were in the field behind the Breech Pool, until they were flushed by the male Marsh Harrier and flew off west (see above). 
There were also a few Reed Buntings and a couple of Rock Pipits along the wall. (AH/PC)
Additionally, there were two pairs of Stonechats, a Little Owl was sitting out at Bramber Farm and there were at least 50 Fieldfares at that location.  (JDW)

White-fronted Geese (above), Marsh Harrier & Brent Geese from the North Wall (AH)

East side and Pagham Spit: There were at least 300 Dunlin and 200 Lapwings in White's Creek, with many more out in the harbour, where there were also at least 400 Knot and 100 Black-tailed Godwits and Golden Plovers, along with 20 Pintail, 100+ Teal and 300+ Wigeon, plus many Brent Geese.
Pagham Lagoon just held a few Tufted Ducks and Little Grebes, plus a Stonechat, whilst a few Linnets, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks were on the spit, and both Marsh Harriers were seen from here, hunting the harbour. (AH)

Medmerry: Porthole Farm - Late this afternoon a Corn Bunting was sitting out with about ten Yellowhammers along the hedges on the track to Ham, whilst a Merlin shot through low and fast. 
There were about 400 Brent Geese feeding on the wheat field, but there weren't any other species evident among them, though some of the flock were obscured by the slope of the field. (AH)

Corn Bunting (above) & Yellowhammer at Medmerry (AH)

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