Wednesday, 6 December 2017

6th December, 2017 Beachy Head Overcast mild WSW 2 increasing to 3-4.

With a number of interesting birds ie Black Guillemots, Red-necked Grebes and Great Northern Divers seen recently in the Channel off the Sussex coast I decided to do a sea-watch off Birling from 08.05-09.05, but unfortunately it was a some-what waste of time.

Red-throated Diver 4 (3E and 1 on the sea)
Fulmar 2
Gannet 60 chiefly E
Common Scoter 4 W
Lesser Black Backed Gull 4 on Birling beach
Greater Black Backed Gulls 115 chiefly adults on Birling beach.
Kittiwake 2 E
Auk Sp. 5 E
Guillemot 1 E
Razorbill 1 s/p E
Stonechat 2
Raven party of 4 over Birling cliffs.

Part of the Gull flock on Birling beach

Saturday, 2 December 2017

2nd December, 2017 Newhaven Harbour and West Rise Marsh

First stop was at Newhaven harbour with a high tide so no gulls were on the beach. The Great-northern Diver was first showing distantly off the East Pier but then swam into the harbour and towards the car park allowing some distant photographs. A second unidentified diver was present on the sea, but to far away for full identification.

We then visited West Rise Marsh, but other than the usual ducks including 10 Gadwall, just a Kingfisher and a Cetti's Warbler were seen.



Great-northern Diver Newhaven Harbour.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

29th November, 2017 Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne

Richard Bown found a winter plumage Black Guillemot in the outer harbour late yesterday afternoon
and with only around twenty records for Sussex and just a couple so far this century, we decided to visit the harbour with John King in the hope that the Black Guillemot would stay. We met up with Richard, and also Roger and Liz Charlwood and was soon enjoying some good views on a cold but sunny morning. It was in Juvenile/ 1stW plumage with a barred back, and browner on the head and dark streaking on the wing patches.

Showing the brownish head and barred back of a Juv/1stW bird.

Showing the streaking on the white wing patches
of a Juvenile/1stW bird

Look, I have got red legs.

Juvenile/1stW Black Guillemot in Sovereign Harbour.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

28th November, 2017 Widewater

After doing some shopping in Shoreham, on our way home we stopped off at Widewater and had some close views of the female Goosander just west of the causeway in excellent light.

In the 1960's when we had some proper icy winters, and we even walked on the River Thames when it froze over near Kingston-on-Thames, Tony Quinn and myself counted a flock of c500 Goosanders flying over Walton Reservoir, a sight which I would imagine will never happen again.

Female Goosander at Widewater.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

26th November, 2017 Staines Reservoir Early morning frost becoming fine and sunny

With a putative American Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris being reported from Staines Reservoir on the bank of the north basin, John King and myself decided to visit this morning with the sun in the right position. Back in the 1950's my brother Barry and myself spent many hours cycling to Staines visiting the various reservoirs and gravel pits including the famous Perry Oaks Sewage Farm which has now been swallowed up by Heathrow Airport terminal 5, and therefore this visit brought back many happy memories including the site where I saw my first Whinchat in around 1954.

American Horned Lark is the nominate specie with a number of subspecies which includes our Shore Lark E.a.flava as one of these subspecies, but looking at the pictures posted on the web-sites, it  appears noticeably different to the Shore Lark. To date, there has only been the odd records of Horned Lark in the UK including one on South Uist in October 2014.

John and myself arrived on the Staines Reservoir causeway and virtually the first birder we saw was Sussex birder Jake Everitt who was watching the Horned Lark and he was able to quickly get us on to it. We spent the next 90 minutes watching it in excellent light at various distances from down to around 100 metres, and although to far for me to photograph it, telescope views were good for most of the time. There has only been two previous records of Horned Lark in the UK, the first being on Tresco in October, 2001 although there has been some criticism of this record, and the second on South Uist in October, 2014.

I show below two pictures taken by myself of a Shore Lark taken at Beachy Head during late October 2013, and also pictures of the Horned Lark taken yesterday at Staines Reservoir, and two taken on South Uist, October, 2014, which looks similar to the bird present on Staines Reservoir. The Beachy Shore Lark a paler looking individual especially on the underparts.

Shore Lark taken at Beachy Head in October, 2013. 
A paler crown, a yellow supercilium only just extending over
the bill. Virtually no streaking under the black collar band and
far less blotching on the sides of the breast and flanks.

taken by LGRE

Taken by John Rowland,
Clearly shows the white supercilium extending over the bill
and the heavy streaking on the breast.

Putative Horned Lark on Staines Reservoir.
Compared to the Shore Lark, this bird had a dark crown, whitish
supercilium extending above the bill, extensive dark streaking
under the black collar band and extensive rustic blotching on the
sides of the upper breast and flanks.

taken by John Kemp
Horned Lark taken on South Uist, October 2014.
Showing similarities with the Staines Reservoir bird.

We also saw on the journeys a Ring-necked Parakeet and 1 Red Kite both in Surrey.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

25th November, 2017 Wivelsfield Green and Beachy Head Clear and sunny, sharp frost, NW2-3

On our way to Beachy we stopped off at dawn along One hundred Acre Lane near Wivelsfield Green where several Hawfinches have been seen recently and many thanks to Mark Mallalieu for the information. After about 30 minutes a single Hawfinch was located on top of a tree some distance away. After a couple of minutes it flew towards us passing over the road and we lost it as it flew over West wood. This area is only about 3 miles from my house, so almost a garden tick.

At Beachy Head we covered Birling lane, Belle Tout loop, Belle Tout wood, the set-a-side field leading up to Cornish Farm and the Old Trapping Area. Other than the set-a-side field very little present in the area and no sign of any Dartford Warblers. Only 1 Robin was seen today compared with 25 in the same area last week.

Fulmar 2
Skylark c150 in field
Stonechat 2
Goldcrest 1
Jackdaw c250 in field
Rook c200 in field
Carrion Crow c20 in field including a party of 12 birds.
Raven 1
Starling 100 in field compared with 700 seen last week.
Goldfinch 40 in field
Linnet 6 in field
Corn Bunting 25 in field

Good numbers of corvids and gulls feeding in the fields.

Up to 25 Corn Buntings present with a number singing.

Poppies still out in flower.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

17th & 18th November, 2017 Beachy Head

17th November - Fine Sunny and mild.

RE covered Whitbread Hollow, and the Cow Gap area but generally very quiet:
Great-spotted Woodpecker 1
Blackbirds 15
Song Thrush 2
Redwing 1
Goldcrest 2
Bullfinch 2
Rock Pipit 9 including a party of 8.

18th November-Overcast mild with rain late morning. Wind W 3-4.
We covered Birling lane, Belle Tout wood and walked the Cornish Farm field to ascertain the numbers of passerine birds present in this large set-a-side field. We just finished when the rain
set in.

Kestrel 1
Peregrine 1
Skylark c200 in Cornish farm field
Stonechat 1
Goldcrest 1
Firecrest 1 B/T scrub
Jackdaw c250 in Cornish farm field
Rook Good numbers in field
Starling c700 in Cornish Farm field
Goldfinch 20 Cornish farm field
Corn Bunting 18 Cornish farm field

Also a late Common Darter was present at B/T.

Good flocks of Starlings were feeding in the field. Estimated 700,