Magnolia Warbler - Ohio, May 2017

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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Upper Cuckmere  16/8/17

Probably no better way to start a day then a world tick. Just as I was getting up for work, this superb juv AQUATIC WARBLER was trapped and ringed at Charleston Reedbed this morning, and much to my delight a good friend kindly invited me in to take a look at it. 

This is the tenth record for the Cuckmere Valley and 7th (?) for the site, and a brilliant reward for the hard work put in to maintaining this ringing site. A huge thanks to the Charleston Reedbed ringing group, although going to work smelling like a ditch was far from ideal. 



Besides the obvious features such as the central crown stripe and mantle stripes, the pale lores, lack of streaking to the sides of the breast and straw-coloured look easily separate this from Sedge Warbler.
juv/1st winter Aquatic Warbler at Charleston Reedbed



Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Upper Cuckmere 15/8/17

After running 14 miles this morning I was a bit at a loss of what to do, so decided on twitching the Cattle Egret just south of Litlington. It showed nicely viewed from the layby on the Litlington Road south of the village.


 Cattle Egret in the Cuckmere
High and Over in the distance

Monday, 14 August 2017

Seaford Head 14/8/17

A much quieter day today (despite the lovely clear and calm conditions) with almost the same variety as yesterday but just smaller numbers of migrants, apart from Whitethroats which were everywhere. In fact it was a great sight seeing so many in Hope Gap. Outside of the Gap, there was little to see and only the odd bits were noted moving overhead, with Yellow Wagtails slowly but surely starting to get going.

Totals are:

Whitethroat - 85
Yellow Wagtail - 10
Wheatear - 6
Willow Warbler - 9
Tree Pipit - 2
Reed Warbler - 5
Blackcap - 16
Nightingale - 3
Chiifchaff - 2
Lesser Whitethroat - 5
Garden Warbler - 4
Redstart - 1 male
Spotted Flycatcher - 1

Autumns Ladys Tresses - 1
Silver Spotted Skipper - 6

 Yellow Wagtail in Hope Gap
 Willow Warbler in Hope Gap
 Silver Spotted Skipper on Seaford Head
Autumns Ladys Tresses on Seaford Head
 sunrise
lower section of Hope Gap




Sunday, 13 August 2017

Seaford Head 13/8/17

At long last a day off when the weather is suitable for migrants. My first visit this autumn to start my 14th consecutive year of birding Seaford Head in the autumn (and the first time I've missed July!!). There was a reasonable selection of birds about but no great numbers. Nightingales were particularly conspicuous this morning and as the morning warmed up a few Hirundines were trickling through, and a couple of Hobbies also. Just as I was leaving, Bob sent a text stating that 3 Spot Fly and a Redstart were by Harry's Bush, frustrating as this area was devoid of anything when I was there. Still a good morning and fingers crossed a decent autumn ahead.

Totals are:

Willow Warbler - 20

Whitethroat - 45

Lesser Whitethroat - 6

Wheatear - 4

Reed Warbler - 6

Blackcap - 5

Nightingale - 3

Tree Pipit - 4

Whinchat - 2

Yellow Wagtail - 1

Garden Warbler - 2

Sand Martin - 70 W

Chiffchaff - 1

Hobby - 2 adults hunting together

Spotted Flycatcher - 1 in car park

Nightingale in Hope Gap - one of the most reliable sites to see this species on their return migration
Whinchat in Hope Gap
 Reed Warbler in Hope Gap
 Wheatear at the Dung Heap
Hobby over

Friday, 11 August 2017

Newhaven Harbour 11/8/17

With working all day there wasn't much else to do then go down the beach and watch the Gulls again. With blustery conditions four juv. Yellow-legged Gulls were present and all different from yesterdays bird. Also a couple of juv. Lesser Black-backed Gulls this evening.



Yellow-legged Gulls
Yellow-legged left and Herring right
juv. Lesser Black-backed Gull




Thursday, 10 August 2017

Cuckmere Haven & Newhaven Harbour 10/8/17

Not much to see yet again in the Cuckmere this evening with the following seen:

Wheatear - 1
Willow Warbler - 5
Dunlin - 8
Common Sandpiper - 1
Whimbrel - 1

Afterwards a check at the Gulls on Newhaven West Beach produced a dodgy looking Yellow-legged Gull and 15 Sandwich Terns.

On Monday the Cuckmere held the following:

Dunlin - 18
Wheatear - 5 around Foxhole Farm



juv. Yellow-legged Gull at Newhaven Harbour




Sunday, 6 August 2017

Pendeen & Penzance Pelagic, Cornwall 5/8/17

After a very long and tiring week at work with numerous reports of rare seabirds in the SW, I took the plunge on Friday night after two hours sleep and little notice and preparation to head down to Pendeen Watchpoint, taking only 5 hours from home to Pendeen!!. The wind direction was good but perhaps not strong enough and with no weather fronts knocking about I knew it wasn't going to be a classic, however it was great to be down there despite a slow seawatch.

The morning was dominated by thousands upon thousands of Manx Shearwaters with numbers in the region of 25000 birds. The only large Shear passed early on and by early afternoon all passage had dropped considerably, so I decided to book myself on a pelagic trip from Penzance Harbour where the effort of driving down was made worth it.

Pendeen 05.40 - 14.40 NW 17mph gusting 24mph - Clear

Manx Shearwater - ca. 30,000
Common Scoter - 548 (a Pendeen day record!!)
Balearic Shearwater - 7
Storm-Petrel - 2
Sooty Shearwater - 6
Cory's Shearwater - 1
Great Skua - 1
Scaup - 1 drk close in with Common Scoter
Puffin - 2
Arctic Skua - 3
Sandwich Tern - 18
Chough - 2

 the view from Pendeen Watchpoint

Chough at Pendeen

The pelagic on board The Mermaid from Penzance Harbour was superb with thousands of birds seen, again mainly Manx Shearwaters but this time more large Shears were present, and a few Cetaceans also made several appearances. The Manxies had formed large feeding flocks roughly 3 miles off Porthgwarra. An oil slick was created and this attracted a nice number of Storm-Petrels. However, it was pretty choppy but thankfully my Antarctic training meant I was left feeling good for the duration..

Penzance Pelagic - 5pm - 9.30pm

Great Shearwater - 15
Sooty Shearwater - 20
European Storm Petrel - 20
Manx Shearwater - ca. 2000

Minke Whale - 1 (surfaced 6-8 times)
Common Dolphin - 20


 a great combo - Storm Petrel and Manx Shearwater
 a small part of the feeding flock
 Great Shearwater
 Great Shearwater
 Great Shearwater
 Sooty Shearwater alongside a Manx
 Sooty Shearwater


European Storm-Petrels


Manx Shearwaters
Common Dolphin
Minke Whale
sunset and Lands End














Monday, 31 July 2017

Gibraltar  31/7/17

A few minutes on the steps produced the following:

   Pallid Swift - 1
   Black Kite - 10 around 'The Rock'
   Yellow-legged Gull - 4 (1 juv)


Sunday, 30 July 2017

Splash Point  30/7/17





With the wind increasing this afternoon and being very jealous of recent events in Cornwall, I set up optimistically on the cliffs hoping for a few Shearwaters. Unfortunately despite imagining being on a Cornish headland, only a single Manx Shearwater was seen bringing everything back to reality.

Totals between 15.15-16.45 are:

Manx Shearwater - 1E
Common Scoter - 10E
Auk sp. - 1E




Saturday, 29 July 2017

Newhaven Harbour & Cuckmere Haven 29/7/17

As the tide was low when I headed out this morning I checked Newhaven Harbour and soon found another juv. Yellow-legged Gull roosting on the sand.



 obvious anchor markings in the mantle and scaps are visible when the bird was preening
juv. Yellow-legged Gull at Newhaven Harbour

Afterwards in the Cuckmere I somehow didn't see a Great Skua despite it probably flying across my path at some point whilst I was on site. I've never seen a Skua in the Cuckmere itself so this was slightly frustrating. 13 Dunlin were along the river and a few Sand Martins were trickling through.

Yesterday a few hundred Swift moved west and a very juv. Ringed Plover was found south of the scrape. A few Kittiwakes moving west on a relatively short seawatch yesterday afternoon.

Two families of Stonechats are currently in the scrub south of the scrape

Swift in the Cuckmere - one of a couple of hundred moving west on 28th July
juv Ringed Plover by the scrape - brilliant to see a nearly fledged Ringed Plover at this site