Shoebill - Uganda June 2016

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Monday, 24 October 2016

Beachy Head 24/10/16

A change of scenery this morning was needed and I enjoyed a birthday walk from Birling to Chat Vale. The area was quiet with the highlight being two Dartford Warblers.

Totals are:

Dartford Warbler - 2
Black Redstart - 2
Redpoll - 16 E
Goldcrest - 5
Chiffchaff - 5
Ring Ouzel - 1 Chat Vale
Merlin - 1
Lapwing - 1 N
Swallow - 8 E

Yesterday on Seaford Head was a Firecrest and Black Redstart.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Seaford Head & Cuckmere Haven 22/10/16

A cold start that soon warmed up but unfortunately there was little about in the whole area. The only noteworthy sighting on the Head was a single flock of 30 Fieldfare and in the Cuckmere a Marsh Harrier flew east and a very showy Brent Goose was on the meanders. Not long now until my travels head to the southern hemisphere, and the way things are at the moment in Sussex, I can't wait!!

Seaford Head:
Fieldfare - 31 W
Redwing - 10 W
Woodpigeon - 23 W
Brambling - 1E
Siskin - 10+ E
Lesser Redpoll - 10 E
Chiffchaff - 1
Blackcap - 1
Goldcrest - 5

Grey Plover - 2
Dunlin - 7
Marsh Harrier - 1 E over Havens Brow
Brent Goose - 1
Kingfisher - 3
Swallow - 10 E

Earlier in the week a Black Redstart was in the garden.

 Brent Goose on the meanders
 Marsh Harrier over Haven's Brow
 part of the flock of Fieldfare by Harry's Bush
Black Redstart in Peacehaven

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Seaford Head & Cuckmere Haven 16/10/16

Two days of birding the patch with not very much to show for it, or maybe the contrast from the east coast on Friday was just too much to handle.

Saturday was a later start due to extreme tiredness, with the only noteworthy bird on the Head was a Ring Ouzel by Harry's Bush. The Cuckmere produced a female Merlin and another Ring Ouzel above Foxhole Farm.

Today was marginally better but still hard work. I met up with Josh and we walked the same circuit as yesterday. Hope Gap had 2 Ring Ouzels and whilst at Harry's Bush I looked down at the Gulls and noticed a dark-mantled Gull that I thought to be a Yellow-legged Gull. Closer inspection revealed streaking on the head and a dark sub-terminal band on the bill and a mantle shade that I thought was too dark for a michahellis, and so I suspected maybe an atlantis form could be on the cards, though after asking a couple of people it appears it is a hybrid Herring Gull x Lesser Black-backed Gull. The Cuckmere produced a male Merlin, and a Woodlark over the small sycamore copse before landing in a stubble field. Whilst searching for this 4 Wheatears were found, and then the Woodlark was inadvertently flushed and flew strongly NE. With very little about and no sign of any new arrivals we called it a day.

adult Yellow-legged Gull in the Upper Cuckmere (Dec 2014)

Josh Jones reply - "I reckon it's probably a hybrid LBB x Herring having looked at the pics - feet look to have a pinkish tinge to them while the primary pattern, with relatively restricted black and some dark grey seemingly extended right up the outers and bleeding into the black.

(Kris Gillam has kindly got back to me and stated the possibility of a hybrid Gull, with the streaking on the head favouring a Herring/Lesser Black-backed influence.) I must admit I didn't even think of a hybrid. A very interesting Gull.

Many thanks to both Kris and Josh, concluding the identity of the Gull as a Herring Gull x Lesser Black-backed Gull hybrid.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Siberian Accentor - East Yorkshire 14/10/16

An almighty relief to grip back this mega rare, and quite frankly awesome looking 'Sibe' after not being able to twitch the Shetland individual.

I drove up with Adam, Richard and John and we spent most of the day around the Spurn peninsular picking up a host of decent birds. But it wasn't just the scarcities keeping us entertained. Common migrants were in their tens or hundreds and it was a joy to see. Other than the Accentor, notable species seen were:

Olive-backed Pipit - 1
Pallas's Warbler - 1
Shorelark - 1
Great Grey Shrike - 1
Woodcock - 6
Jack Snipe - 1
Ring Ouzel - 10
Mealy Redpoll - 4
Black Redstart - 1
White-fronted Geese - 50
Hundreds of Redwings, Fieldfares and Robins

Like all big twitches, at first light there was a huge panic to see the bird and everyone charged into the viewing area as if their lives depended on seeing this bird. I however, resorted to climbing up the well-positioned trees and obtained prolonged views whilst everyone underneath me was wrestling for a viewing position. Once things had calmed down, an orderly queue was formed and calmness ensued. It was great to catch up with so many familiar faces from past trips to Shetland and further afield. Great day!!

 Siberian Accentor at Easington - 2nd record for Britain, with the 1st being five days earlier on Shetland
 Olive-backed Pipit at Kilnsea
 Shorelark at Kilnsea
White-fronted Geese over Kilnsea

Monday, 10 October 2016

Seaford Head 10/10/16

Two Yellow-browed Warblers in Harry's Bush this morning. Other highlights pictured below. Must now dash to work :-(

 Yellow-browed Warbler in Harry's Bush - whilst photographing this stunning individual another bird was calling continuously from further up the wood, confirming my suspicions from yesterday that two birds were present. 
 Short-eared Owl over Hope Gap
Ring Ouzel in Hope Gap

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Seaford Head, Cuckmere Haven & Newhaven 9/10/16

Very cool conditions this morning with a very evident north breeze blowing. Despite the clear conditions there wasn't much moving overhead, and fewer Ring Ouzels were about today. Harry's Bush was alive with Chiffchaffs, and with them I managed to dig out a very elusive Yellow-browed Warbler that was first heard calling, but remained out of sight until I went into full 'pishing' mode and the bird thankfully showed itself. Whilst at the wood my first Woodlark of the autumn flew over and also the first Black Redstarts of the autumn were present.

Totals are:

Reed Bunting - 3
Chiffchaff - 60
'alba' Wagtail - 19 E
Brambling - 1 E
Wheatear - 1
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
Ring Ouzel - 12
Blackcap - 25
Black Redstart - 2 by Harry's Bush
Yellow-browed Warbler - 1 Harry's Bush
Mistle Thrush - 4 W
Woodlark - 1 E sounding like a calling Western Bonelli's as it went over leading me into a sense of panic for a split second
Swallow - 250 E

 a late Spotted Flycatcher in Hope Gap
 Ring Ouzel in Hope Gap
 1 of 2 Black Redstarts by Harry's Bush

Yellow-browed Warbler in Harry's Bush - always a pleasing find

Next up was the same circuit as yesterday in the Cuckmere searching Foxhole and the not yet named copse nearby finding another five Ring Ouzels, with the Curlew Sandpiper still present with four Dunlin.

Wanting to head back west I parked up at the east end of Peacehaven and walked to Newhaven Harbour via Castle Hill NR and the various hedgerows, with only a Whinchat for my troubles. On the way back I was slightly distracted by a certain Accentor being found on Shetland.

Whinchat along the cliffs at Peacehaven

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Seaford Head, Cuckmere Haven & Beachy 8/10/16

After a 600 mile drive yesterday for two Yellow-browed Warblers (dipped Eastern Crowned) it was good to hit the patch today. Conditions felt good from the off as high cloud and light winds were the order of the morning. Thrushes dominated the whole day with a combined count of 101 Ring Ouzels seen at the two headlands. Seaford Head was decent enough with the continuous sound of Ouzels, and a Short-eared Owl flew in off. A very long walk in the Cuckmere produced the Curlew Sandpiper and not much else, but finding a small sycamore copse was encouraging for future visits, although I couldn't believe I hadn't noticed it before.

Totals for Seaford Head are:

Chiffchaff - 20
Grey Wagtail - 1 E
Ring Ouzel - 31 (most headed off east)
Blackcap - 10
Redwing - 16
Brambling - 2
Goldcrest - 3
Reed Bunting - 10 E
Mistle Thrush - 1 E
Short-eared Owl - 1 in off then tracked west
'alba' Wagtail - 23 E
Wheatear - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 13

Cuckmere Haven:
Curlew Sandpiper - 1
Knot - 1 on scrape

 Ring Ouzel in Hope Gap - scroll down for better pictures of Ouzels
 awful pic of Short-eared Owl over Hope Gap
 sycamore plantation on an open hillside that will surely produce something one day
 looking down towards Foxhole Farm

Curlew Sandpiper along the Cuckmere river -found yesterday by ADW - having not seen one here last year this was great to see

Nearly back at the car, I looked at my phone to see the exciting news that a Red-flanked Bluetail was at Beachy Head. Opening the message soon brought my excitement to ground level when I realised two things; one it being in Whitbread Hollow, and two; it was ringed at 8am and it was now 1.20pm. Obviously I had to give it a go but the reality of finding a small, skulking and typically shy bird in the 'bowl of bushes' that is Whitbread Hollow left me feeling very despondent (not helped by knowing the bird was under control for half an hour = gripping, and then finding out the news had been phoned out straight away to Birdline SE but somehow not filtered through to the major news services until early afternoon) and so I slowly made my way back to the car via Francis Bottom where I was treated to a spectacular display of a group of 69 (yes 69!!) Ring Ouzels. The group were feeding on numerous berries at ground level and in the hawthorns and were constantly making a racket as they flew from one side of the valley to another. Then all at once, the birds took flight (where I was able to count them) and headed east around the corner to Whitbread. Whilst watching these, a female Merlin flew by and another Short-eared Owl flew over. No Bluetail, but a good days birding.

Ring Ouzels in Francis Bottom (8 birds in the bottom picture)
 Short-eared Owl over Beachy
I could've spent all evening watching the Ouzels, but this band of rain had me scarpering