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Thursday, 18 July 2019

Goring Gap, Brooklands Pleasure Park and Adur Estuary

Goring Gap first thing was almost immediately written off by grotty weather, with just two Mediterranean Gulls (adult and juvenile), two Little Egrets, two Sandwich Terns and an Oystercatcher noted before then.

Brooklands Pleasure Park had two juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls among the small number of Larids present. An adult Mediterranean Gull and three Lesser Black-backed Gulls were also present, along with the usual Mute Swan family. A Goldcrest was still feeding juveniles by the stream, where a Green Woodpecker yaffled.

Yellow-legged Gull at Brooklands Pleasure Park (bird 1)

Yellow-legged Gull at Brooklands Pleasure Park (bird 2)

Yellow-legged Gull at Brooklands Pleasure Park (bird 2)

Yellow-legged Gull at Brooklands Pleasure Park (bird 2)

Five minutes scanning the Adur Estuary from the toll bridge produced four Oystercatchers, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Little Egret and eight Mute Swans.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Steep Down and West Worthing

A long to-do list sapped most of my inspiration this morning so I ended up just having a short walk at Steep Down, enjoying the songs of Corn Buntings and Skylarks. 17 Linnets and eight Meadow Pipits were present. Two Swallows were visible in the distance, the hedges were busy with Whitethroats. I flushed a pair of Buzzards off some roadkill on the way out, and crossed my fingers that a lorry wouldn't come the other way as one of the birds took off low with the carcass and struggled to gain height. Fortunately it met nothing oncoming!

Walking back from the shops mid-afternoon, I discovered where my local Swifts are nesting, seeing perhaps 20 birds dashing low around a parallel street and some birds entering nest holes or alighting on the edge of eaves. In the evening, an adult Mediterranean Gull flew over the garden.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Pett Level, Pannel Valley NR and Adur Estuary

I eventually made it over to East Sussex this morning after battling through the usual traffic. An initial scan over Pett Level revealed a family of Marsh Harriers, three Whimbrel keeping just out of a flock of 53 Curlew and a couple of Common Terns. But best of all was a Common Sandpiper. My first of the year no less - I'm not quite sure how I managed not to see one for so long. Most of the Aythya ducks were hanging out on the eastern pool, so I spent a good while scanning through the ensemble, made up of Pochard, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Teal and Gadwall, all in alternate plumage. One more scan, however, and almost to my surprise there was the reported FERRUGINOUS DUCK in all its glory. It was distant, and was mostly sleeping, but it was a fine, pure drake. As I moved on, nine Sand Martins and a couple of Swifts flew through.

drake Ferruginous Duck at Pett Level

Feeling somewhat elevated, I set out along the canal at the west end towards the enigmatic Pannel Valley Nature Reserve, encountering a Lesser Whitethroat and a handful of Sedge and Reed Warblers along the way, plus a flyover Raven. It is years since my last visit here, due as much to an - I suppose - unfounded sense that visitors are not particularly welcome, as the testing journey. I entered the first hide and quickly picked up the beautiful adult Curlew Sandpiper feeding opposite, as well as three Little Ringed Plovers (including a juvenile). Another birder joined me briefly before trying the other hide. After a few minutes, I followed him over and he gave me the inevitable news that the Pectoral Sandpiper had just shown for him before flying back towards the hide I'd just left. Without wanting to start to merry dance to and fro, I opted to stay put, enjoying establishing the presence of three Greenshanks and eight Black-tailed Godwits. Thankfully, soon the Pec appeared in flight and touched down for a few seconds to our left before settling on the far side, where it was dwarfed by a moulting male Ruff.

Lesser Whitethroat at Pett Level
Curlew Sandpiper at Pannel Valley NR

Pectoral Sandpiper at Pannel Valley NR

After walking back and taking a few minutes for lunch, I called back at Pett Pools for another look at the 'Fudge'. It was nowhere to be seen, and was presumably still in the reeds at the back, where it had drifted when I left it earlier. After hearing several earlier in the day (and at Rye in the early spring), though, I was glad to finally lay eyes on a male Bearded Tit as it flew over the vegetation. Two Common Gulls, an adult and a 2cy, were my first of the season, and six Sandwich Terns flew over.

On the way home, to break the monotony of the rush hour traffic I pulled off to have a quick scan of the Adur. I barely added to what I'd seen from the A27, with three Little Egrets and a count of 12 Mute Swans the most noteworthy sightings.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Goring Gap, Adur Estuary and West Worthing

I only gave it half-an-hour or so at Goring Gap first thing, and indeed it felt quiet but I did record the first Grey Wagtail, Redshank and two Swallows of the autumn, along with 78 Gannets, two Sandwich Terns, three Swifts and two Mediterranean Gulls (one juvenile).

A very quick stop at the toll bridge overlooking the Adur Estuary produced little other than two Little Egrets, nine Mute Swans, two Oystercatchers, a Sparrowhawk, a Skylark, a Linnet and two Pied Wagtails.

While sitting in the garden having dinner early evening, at least two Mediterranean Gulls hawked overhead with Black-headed Gulls.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Brooklands Pleasure Park

I almost didn't end up birding at all today but couldn't resist popping in to Brooklands Pleasure Park mid-afternoon for a quick look through the gulls. Lo and behold there was a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, as well as a 2cy Mediterranean Gull, two adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls and increased numbers of fledged Herring Gulls. A Goldcrest was busy feeding two young. Two Green Woodpeckers, including a juvenile, were by the stream. Mallard broods of nine and 11 were present, and the pair of Mute Swans with their four juveniles were also on show.

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull

juvenile Green Woodpecker

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Goring Gap, Adur Estuary and Brooklands Pleasure Park

The first Willow Warbler of the autumn called at the seaward end of the Plantation, where the Treecreeper also announced itself. A (the?) juvenile Yellow-legged Gull lingered offshore. Two Dunlin and a pair of Common Scoter flew east, while 64 Gannets also flew past. Five Mediterranean Gulls and six Little Egrets were seen, and 120 Woodpigeons flocked in the fields. A short walk produced three Whitethroats and a Blackcap.

A scan of the Adur Estuary from the toll bridge revealed two Avocets - an adult and a juvenile - along with an Oystercatcher, two Little Egrets, a 3cy Mediterranean Gull, a House Martin and a Kestrel. Juvenile Herring and Black-headed Gulls were present.


Avocets (juvenile left) on the Adur Estuary

Late afternoon I called in to Brooklands Pleasure Park. An adult Yellow-legged Gull was the main feature - I was looking for juveniles but a local adult is a far rarer treat so I spent a fair while enjoying this mighty bird. Also present were a Little Grebe, a Little Egret, a 3cy Mediterranean Gull, three adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Tufted Duck, a House Martin, two Swifts, a couple of Goldcrests and three fledged Herring Gulls. A female Mallard had a brood of nine young ducklings and a Coot pair had three youngsters. Four young Mute Swans with a lone adult are now full juveniles.

adult Yellow-legged Gull at Brooklands Pleasure Park

Mallards at Brooklands Pleasure Park

Mute Swans at Brooklands Pleasure Park

Monday, 8 July 2019

Goring Gap, Pulborough Brooks RSPB, Warnham LNR and Ifield Mill Pond

Goring Gap first thing produced another juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, this one flying east offshore. Gannets increased, with 51 past during my hour's vigil, along with seven Mediterranean Gulls and 30 Sandwich Terns (including several juveniles following their parents).

adult and juvenile Sandwich Terns at Goring Gap

The rest of the day was just brilliant, spent in the company of my oldest birding friend Phil. We spent seven hours at Pulborough Brooks, notching up 63 species. We enjoyed a couple of incredibly exciting encounters in the first half-hour, with a recently fledged juvenile Cuckoo being fed by its Dunnock parents being followed by an adult male Peregrine tucking in to a juvenile Green Woodpecker it had just caught (we later saw the rest of the family in the same tree!). I was really hoping for waders, and was pleased enough with four Green Sandpipers, 60 Black-tailed Godwits, six Avocets, four Little Ringed Plovers, two Dunlin and 21 Lapwings. Four adult Mediterranean Gulls sailed silently overhead and a family party of Egyptian Geese on the North Brooks included five young. A Mandarin, 11 Sand Martins and 12 Teal were also at the North Brooks and further raptors included a Red Kite, four Buzzards and two Kestrels. A Lesser Whitethroat sang by the Hanger Viewpoint and other birds included a Grey Wagtail, seven Pied Wagtails, four Reed Buntings, six Swallows and a handful of Treecreepers and Nuthatches.

juvenile Cuckoo with Dunnock 'foster parent' at Pulborough Brooks RSPB

juvenile Cuckoo at Pulborough Brooks RSPB

Black-tailed Godwits at Pulborough Brooks RSPB

adult male Peregrine with juvenile Green Woodpecker at Pulborough Brooks RSPB

Warnham LNR was visited on a whim in the mid-afternoon. Here we enjoyed a male Kingfisher, eight Common Terns (including two juveniles, though one seemed stuck outside the raft), a Little Grebe, two Great Crested Grebes, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Mandarin, two Treecreepers, a House Martin and a Reed Warbler.

male Kingfisher at Warnham LNR

Mandarin at Warnham LNR

On a further whim we stopped briefly at Ifield Mill Pond, where the best on offer included three Great Crested Grebes (a pair and a full-grown juvenile), a Grey Wagtail, four House Martins and a Nuthatch.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Goring Gap and West Worthing

At Goring Gap early morning, my first juvenile Mediterranean Gull of the year flew east with an adult. A Goldcrest was calling at the seaward end of the Plantation and a Pied Wagtail flew over. 15 Gannets and two Sandwich Terns flew past offshore. A Grey Heron flew west and eight Swifts were overhead. Two Oystercatchers and 12 Little Egrets were on the beach. Blackcap, Skylark (three), Green Woodpecker and Song Thrush were heard.

Swift numbers over the garden increased to a quite impressive 35 screaming birds in the evening!

Friday, 5 July 2019

West Worthing

A fabulous late evening display from 25 Swifts over the garden was truly spirit-lifting, especially after low numbers over the late spring/early summer. How many of these birds are genuinely breeding is another question, but I'm certainly going to savour them while they're still here.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Thorney Island

A visit out of curiosity more than expectation, I stuck to the north end of the island and didn't pass through the security gates, so it wasn't a particularly adventurous visit. This defnitely seems like a promising autumn venue though and I will be back ready for a longer walk round. Birds included five Black-tailed Godwits, a showy Common Tern, two Mediterranean Gulls, two singing Lesser Whitethroats, 10 Sand Martins, 72 of both Curlew and Redshank, a Cetti's Warbler, three Great Crested Grebes, a Sparrowhawk, a Buzzard, four Swallows, 10 Skylarks, seven Little Egrets, two Reed Warblers, five Meadow Pipits (a couple performing song-flights), two Kestrels, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, several Whitethroats including fledglings and two Shelduck chicks with their parent.