Sunday, September 20, 2020

20th September 2020 - Shackleford, Surrey

The previous day a Short-toed Lark was found by Ed Stubbs on his local inland patch in Surrey. An amazing find and I believe its only the second for the county with the previous being in 1966. In normal circumstances I wouldve gone up the day it was found however I was away for my birthday with Sophie in Wiltshire. 

We set off mid-morning and arrived on site for 11:30. Walking up from Chalk Lane we bumped into several birders who said the bird was showing well and giving nice views however when we got there it had done a disappearing act. The field adjacent to its normal field was being cut so all the birds had moved into there. The field was very difficult to view due to the rows of alfalfa which were put in lines by the farmer. We stayed on site for 2.5 hours and had no luck we did see five Red Kites, two Lapwings and lots of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits. Sophie was very bored by this point so I agreed to go home but said I would drive back up and try again. 

It took around an hour to drive home and I was back on site by 5pm this turned out to be a very smart move as upon arrival the Short-toed Lark was back in its normal field. It was near motionless and didn't look in the best of health the whole time I was there until just before dusk when it started to move around and feed a little. Also noted was a female Merlin, I didn't realise this is a description species in Surrey and when Ed arrived he was very gripped off as he had never seen this species on his local patch. It was a lovely evening and it was great to see Ed and David as well as meet James Grundy. 

I was really pleased to see this bird. This species has become increasingly scarce in the United Kingdom with most records these days being restricted to the Isles of Scilly and Shetland. 

Short-toed Lark, Shackleford, Surrey

Female Merlin, Shackleford, Surrey





Friday, September 18, 2020

18th September 2020 - Highdown, Ferring Rife and Goring Gap

Dad came over to mine early morning and we started the morning birding at Highdown. We saw 82 Siskins, a Red Kite, five Meadow Pipits, 11 Chiffchaffs, 14 Swallows, a Grey Wagtail, five Blackcaps, two Bullfinches, 12 House Martins, a Hobby, a Whitethroat, three Spotted Flycatchers and a Sparrowhawk

After Highdown we moved onto Ferring Rife where we saw another 13 Siskins, six Chiffchaffs, a Whitethroat, a Wheatear, two alba wagtails and a Clouded Yellow. We stopped at the Bluebird Cafe for a sausage sandwich and whilst waiting six Pintail headed west as well as two Brent Geese

Last stop of the morning was Goring Gap where we saw 16 Swallows, three Little Egrets, three Sandwich Terns, 23 Turnstones, 24 Ringed Plovers, two Mediterranean Gulls, three Common Gulls, 17 Siskins, four Meadow Pipits, a Kestrel and two Blackcaps

Monday, September 14, 2020

14th September 2020 - Beachy Head

I had the day off work so decided to bird Beachy Head. It was a clear, warm morning so wasn't expecting much. It turned out to be a good morning and exceeded expectations. Shortly after first light the hirundines started moving through and I put a rough estimate of c2500 House Martins over the headland. Heading towards Shooters Bottom, there were a few Siskins moving overhead and I found two Wheatears near Belle Tout Lighthouse. 

Shooters Bottom held a few birds with around c50 Chiffchaffs and c20 Blackcaps as well as a Redstart and a couple of Lesser Whitethroats. I also saw a very smart Adder which I almost stepped on!! Upon arrival at the Old Trapping Area news came through of a Wryneck just round the corner so I headed up there and the bird was showing really nicely feeding out in the open on a path. 

Wryneck, near the Old Trapping Area, Beachy Head, East Sussex

After leaving the Wryneck, I had a short raptor watch from the Old Trapping Area with John and Doreen Cooper, Laurence Pitcher, Simon Linnington and Al Redman. It wasn't long before an Osprey passed through although was always quite distant. It went straight over Belle Tout Lighthouse and then out in to the English Channel. It was the second bird of the day after Simon had another bird earlier in the morning take much the same flight path. Sadly no Honey-buzzards but it felt like a good day for one! 

Other totals from the morning included: c200 Swallows, c30 Sand Martins, c150 Meadow Pipits, two Peregrines, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Green Woodpecker, a Raven, two Buzzards, two Kestrels and a Clouded Yellow

Sunday, September 13, 2020

13th September 2020 - Thorney Island

I headed down to Thorney Island with Max mid-afternoon to have a look for the juvenile Pallid Harrier which had made a reappearance after its short spell at RSPB Brading Marshes on the Isle of Wight. A very frustrating afternoon with no sign of the star bird nor any Ospreys or Cattle Egrets. We did note a Kingfisher, a Greenshank and a Wheatear

Saturday, September 12, 2020

12th September 2020 - Iford Brooks

Another morning with a small amount of time to kill before heading to site. Best find from a small walk was another Pied Flycatcher this time in a slightly different location to the previous bird. This is now the fourth I have found at this site. 

Friday, September 11, 2020

11th September 2020 - Iford Brooks

I had a small amount of spare time in the morning before I had to be on site for work. I took a stroll out from the office onto Iford Brooks. I found a Great White Egret which was perched on the banks on one of the ditches. It wasn't long before it took flight and headed south towards the duck pond briefly landing before being chased further south through the Ouse Valley by the local Grey Herons.  

Sunday, September 6, 2020

6th September 2020 - Highdown and Elmer

I had a work job to attend to in the morning but on my way home I called into Highdown and was nicely rewarded with a good fall of common migrants. I bumped into Nick Bond who it was nice to have a catch up with. Totals from the morning included c25 Spotted Flycatchers, four Willow Warblers, 12 Blackcaps, nine Redstarts, a Garden Warbler, two Whitethroats, two Bullfinches, three Siskins, three Great-spotted Woodpeckers, c40 Swallows and 13 House Martins

Later in the day, news came through of a Wryneck found at Elmer by Owen Mitchell. This is not an area I'm particularly familiar with so I contacted Michael Booker who was very helpful and gave me precise details as to where the bird was. I parked at Climping and walked west along the coastal path not seeing much other than a Wheatear and lots of Mediterranean Gulls. Upon arrival I found Dan Booker and his partner, Ads Bowley and Neil Mustard. They informed that the bird was showing well and it wasn't long before the bird came out of cover and was feeding out in the open. It spent a lot of time feeding on the 'fresh' excavations just behind the beach. 

Wryneck, Elmer, West Sussex