Sunday, 12 May 2019

Toronto and journey to Point Pelee

We landed late afternoon in Toronto and after waiting seemingly hours for our luggage to get out and getting stuck in a massive traffic jam, we eventually reached our digs at Point Pelee at about midnight. On the way, lifers from the car included Red-winged Blackbird, Turkey Vulture, Common Grackle and American Herring Gull.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Cissbury Ring/Steep Down

An hour's walk with Ingrid featured two Grey Partridges, Bullfinch, three House Martins, Stonechat, Yellowhammer, a couple of Green Woodpeckers and a few Buzzards, Swallows and Red-legged Partridges.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Canons Farm, Banstead Woods, Ashdown Forest and Litlington

Another day, another tour. It was harder work though. We located the Little Owl again distantly on the east side of Horse Pasture at Canons, and enjoyed small numbers of Swallows and Yellowhammers, while Banstead Woods added a Mallard on Piddly Pond, a couple of extra Buzzards and nice views of Nuthatch but little else.

I met up with Christian at the Long car park in Ashdown Forest for a quick catch up. Here we had nice views of singing Redstart, Dartford Warbler, Tree Pipit and Garden Warbler, while Stonechats were busily feeding young and a few Siskins and Willow Warblers were around.

An evening twitch saw me join Dan and Mike at Litlington, where the Red-rumped Swallow showed nicely in the evening light amid a flurry of Swallows, Sand Martins, House Martins and Swifts. Reed Warbler and Cetti's Warbler sang.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Canons Farm and Banstead Woods

Leading a tour round the old patch, the farm had good site records of two Sand Martins and a singing Lesser Whitethroat, while other highlights included Little Owl, four Mallards and five Whitethroats. In Banstead Woods a late flock of 16 Black-headed Gulls flew over and we noted singing Treecreeper.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Goring and Henfield Levels

The engine was starting to twitch the Surf Scoter found on the sea off Selsey when news came through that the flock was now heading east. This was at once disappointing and exciting. The latter emotion was evoked by the realisation that I might be able to get it off the patch. However, once I arrived at George V Avenue and saw that visibility (due to heat haze) was atrocious and most birds were moving far out, I soon lost hope. I did technically see the bird, though, at least that was the reasonable assumption when a flock of 34 what-would-have-otherwise-been-noted-down-as Common Scoters flew past half an hour or so after the bird had been reported as setting off east from Selsey with 33 Common Scoters. A mile or two out and obsured by wavy air, however, there was no chance in hell of singling out which was the surfie. Otherwise, only a distant diver, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a heard-only Whimbrel, three in-off Swallows, 18 Sandwich Terns, a 2CY Common Gull and three Gannets, then it was back home to resume work...

... but after attending to some business nearby I couldn't resist exploring Henfield Levels in the evening. What a promising area! First of all, three Nightingales were in song along one short stretch of hedgerow, including two in a half-hearted confrontation which showed very nicely. Five Lesser Whitethroats were in song, as was my first Cuckoo of the year which remained unseen. Reed Buntings, Yellowhammers, Skylarks, Lapwings and singles of Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Cetti's Warbler and Meadow Pipit were also in voice. A Snipe was something of a surprise, five Little Egrets were counted and a Mute Swan was incubating. Skylarks performed over the fields, a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers included a drummer. As I walked back to the car in the twilight, a pair of Tawny Owls kicked off.

Nightingale at Henfield Levels

Monday, 29 April 2019

West Worthing

An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull low over my road, calling, was the first around here for some time.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Cissbury Ring

This morning saw a ringing session with Val and Kath - special guest from Canons Farm. We didn't catch a huge numbers of birds but among the number were of couple of Chiffchaffs still with pollen horns and a Whitethroat. While ringing, a Lesser Whitethroat was singing by our station and a Red Kite flew over. The male Tawny Owl piped up and other bits included a couple of Bullfinches, Buzzard, Kestrel, drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker, etc. By ear I suspected a Long-tailed Tit nest nearby and Kath spotted it in a bush by the table. A Blackcap was incorporating Willow Warbler phrases into its song. A flyover Lesser Black-backed Gull was noteworthy. Unfortunately, I won't be able to get out much over the next week or so (then I'm off to Canada shortly afterwards).

Friday, 26 April 2019

Beachy Head

I was catching up with some desk-based work today when news came through of a subalpine warbler at Beachy Head. I wrapped things up pretty quickly and headed over there but somewhat predictably there was no sign of the bird in the couple of hours I gave it. A Peregrine sliced through the air overhead, a couple of Swallows flew through, a Lesser Whitethroat was in voice and a Raven was continually hassled by Carrion Crows.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Goring Gap and West Worthing

A brisk SSE/southerly breeze saw me down at the Gap again for dawn for another decent seawatch. I was joined for the last hour or so by Gareth. A flurry of terns included my first eight Little Terns of the year, as well as my first 2019 Arctic Terns, at least three among 58 'Commics', which included at least 24 Commons. Skuas came through at a gentle pace, with 20 Bonxies and 12 Arctic Skuas but no Poms. Two Manx Shearwaters were great to see, as was a flock of seven Velvet Scoters. Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwits were down, with 21 and 22 respectively, though two of the latter honoured the beach with their presence. My first Swift of the year tracked east offshore, and other highlights included 218 Common Scoters, four Fulmars, 206 Gannets, six Red-throated Divers, 29 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, five Guillemots/Razorbills, 44 Mediterranean Gulls and eight Common Gulls.

Bar-tailed Godwits

Back home in West Worthing, singles of Swallow and Meadow Pipit flew over.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Goring Gap

I arrived at dawn for what turned out to be a steady but hugely satisfying seawatch. Waders were soon on the move, mainly Bar-tailed Godwits and Whimbrel (72 and 24 in the end, respectively), with singles of Dunlin and Grey Plover thrown in. Skuas soon started as well, though never reached any lofty numbers, with four each of Arctic Skua and Bonxie. One of the Bonxies lingered offshore the whole morning, at one point shredding a gull/tern corpse on the water's surface, which it may well have killed. More importantly, one of the Arctic Skuas was tagging along with a group of three Pomarine Skuas in the distance as they tracked east. Despite the great range, they were in decent enough view for a minute or so and a very pleasing way to get my first of the year. These birds weren't picked up further west beforehand, at least not today, but made it to Splash Point 45 minutes later. Other seawatch highlights included 48 Mediterranean Gulls, 11 Common Scoters, a Red-throated Diver, two Fulmars, 50 Sandwich Terns, 28 Gannets and a Swallow. Two Yellow Wagtails flew over, as did 17 Linnets and a further five Swallows. The beach held 21 Turnstones, a Dunlin, two Sanderlings and four Oystercatchers. A quick walk around the Gap revealed just three Blackcaps, two Chiffchaffs, a Green Woodpecker and a Whitethroat, though a Whimbrel flying over the fields was nice.

Pomarine Skuas (left/lower) and Arctic Skua [phonescoped]

Whimbrel flying over land