Sunday, 5 July 2020

5th July 2020

Sunday, 5th July: Grey and overcast with persistent light drizzle at first and murky conditions at sea, giving way to sunny periods with lighter cloud and better visibility by late morning. Unseasonably windy throughout, with a near gale-force WSW 6-7/8. 

Any hopes that the strong winds over the last couple of days would bring an unusual seabird or two to brighten the summer period were soon dispelled; it remains very quiet, with 20 Gannets moving west and several Sandwich Terns offshore being the only birds of any note!

The Ringed Plover was still on her nest with her clutch of four eggs whilst the nesting Whitethroats along the banks and hedgerows towards Poole Place were very active and still singing occasionally. Swifts were also very active, with a flock of at least 30 apparently feeding high up over the woodland towards the latter location.

Thursday, 2 July 2020

2nd - 4th July 2020

Saturday, 4th July: A fairly miserable day for the time of year, with grey skies, heavy cloud and occasional drizzle, driven on by a strong to near gale-force WSW wind...

I didn't venture out until early afternoon, when I decided to give the sea a look, just in case. Sadly, it wasn't worth the effort and there was very little to report, an hour producing just a couple of Gannets and Sandwich Terns offshore and a Mediterranean Gull heading west.

Friday, 3rd July: A dry, bright and breezy day with sunshine and cloud; not cold, but with the brisk WSW wind keeping the temperature down.

A circuit of the Ancton farm fields today, where the majority of the birds have now stopped singing.  Notable exceptions however were two different male Yellowhammers along the hedgerows - presumably both must be nesting nearby - plus a Skylark and a Greenfinch.

 Male Yellowhammer singing at Ancton farm fields

The small reservoir held two agitated Moorhens, which quickly concealed themselves under waterside vegetation and are likely to be breeding (though disappointingly no other waterbirds were present), whilst the local Buzzards were quite the opposite, showing well and performing a partial display flight over the woods.

Moorhen on the small reservoir at Ancton farm fields

Thursday, 2nd July: Cool at first with a moderate to fresh WSW breeze persisting and the threat of showers, but remaining dry and soon becoming warmer with periods of sunshine and heavy but fast-moving cloud.

There is usually a fair degree of 'sameness' with the bird species seen at this time of year, as highlighted by today's efforts. An hour or so looking at the sea produced similar results to the last couple of weeks - hardly surprising with no real migration going on - although four Curlews heading west were perhaps a reminder that with waders at least it has already started for early-returning and/or failed breeders.

Flock of three Curlews heading west offshore

The main feature this morning however was another feeding frenzy of gulls offshore, with a large flock of at least 1000 birds - mostly Black-headed and Herring Gulls - spread right along the horizon, interspersed with a few diving Gannets and Sandwich Terns and a single Fulmar heading west.

The Ringed Plovers are still in situ too, with the female still on her nest of four eggs, whilst Poole Place and surrounding area held the same breeding species: Whitethroat, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Stock Dove, Linnet, Goldfinch, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Dunnock and Wren all being sighted, whilst under the watchful eye of the local pair of Buzzards from the adjacent wood. Finally, several Swifts were high up to the north.

The Common Buzzards are now very obvious in the Poole Place area

Sunday, 28 June 2020

28th - 30th June 2020

Tuesday, 30th June: A grey, dull and wet morning with persistent periods of drizzly rain driven on a with a brisk WSW wind.

Fairly unpleasant this morning in the cool, damp and windy conditions, not helped by the drizzle making visibility over the sea very poor at times. I managed well over an hour before having to abandon, by which time I had logged about 10 Gannets offshore and half a dozen Sandwich Terns, some heading west, carrying fish and presumably en route to their young. Two Mediterranean Gulls also went west, as did four Swifts out in the gloom, but that was as good as it got! 

Sunday, 28th June:
Another blustery day, mainly dry with sunshine and cloud but also a few sharp showers; wind strong WSW 6-7.

Once again, sea-watching (from a sheltered spot) was the only realistic option in the strong winds, with gusts approaching gale force at times. The highlight was a distant Bonxie (Great Skua) lumbering west offshore, whilst the small trickle of Curlews moving through continued with three passing in two hours (0750-0950hrs) as detailed below:-
Gannet - c.20, mostly heading W
Curlew - 3W
Great Skua - 1W
Sandwich Tern - c.10 o/s, moving E & W
Mediterranean Gull - 1W

Elmer Kiosk - welcome shelter during the showers, whilst the hedgerows behind provide a handy wind-break when sea-watching!

Thursday, 25 June 2020

25th - 27th June 2020

Saturday, 27th June: A real change from recent days; windy, grey and cloudy, with a fresh to strong S/SW 5-6 and frequent heavy showers through the morning. 

The blustery conditions meant that sea-watching was the only realistic option so I did a couple of hours from behind the Kiosk. It was slow-going however, not helped by having to occasionally seek shelter to dodge the worst of the showers! It was much the same as recently, with a couple of Curlews yet again and nothing too exciting..... 

Gannet – 10 o/s fishing
Shelduck – 1W
Curlew – 2W
Sandwich Tern – c.12 o/s fishing – moving back and forth
Mediterranean Gull – 2W

A second visit for an hour mid-afternoon produced a few Gannets and Sandwich Terns offshore, plus a Common Tern and a Mediterranean Gull going west. Five Swifts were also well offshore drifting slowly east - perhaps just feeding.
I made a check of the Ringed Plover's new nest - half expecting bad news following the hordes of visitors that have used the beach this week - but was pleased to find the female and her four eggs still all present and correct!

Thursday, 25th June:
Another scorcher, very warm again with blue skies and prolonged sunshine, thankfully made more comfortable by the moderate easterly breeze.....

Still very dry and sunny, so an early morning visit to the beach before the crowds arrived. There was little of note offshore - bar a few Sandwich Terns and the ever-present local gulls - as we enter the mid-summer doldrums for birding.

There was a surprise however; the pair of Ringed Plovers was back in the same area of beach as previously and they were notably agitated, although I could find no trace of the juvenile. One of the birds, presumably the male, was being constantly chased and harassed by dogs but seemed to be leading them away from the female. Then the reason became clear - the female kept returning to one spot and a quick look by me just before she settled revealed a new nest containing four eggs!!

The new Ringed Plover's nest with four eggs

It must surely be the same pair as before and presumably they have lost their chick from the first attempt and are now trying a second brood. The new nest, although near to the old one, looks more vulnerable to my eyes and with the amount of disturbance around is perhaps doomed to failure, but time will tell.

A look along the hedgerows and banks produced a Marbled White butterfly near the Bee Orchids, and there was still a bit of subdued singing from the local Whitethroats as they get on with raising their young. Both Green and a Great Spotted Woodpeckers were also at Poole Place.

Marbled White

Around Ancton, at least two pairs of Swallows have fledged young and a third pair is still present at Lane End stables. A couple of Swifts were overhead and a pair of Carrion Crows have nested there, whilst another pair near to my home have just fledged their first youngster.

Recently fledged Carrion Crow begging for food from its parent at Ancton

Monday, 22 June 2020

22nd - 24th June 2020

Wednesday, 24th June: A very warm and sunny day,  with a moderate easterly coastal breeze keeping the temperature in check.

This morning a couple of Curlew and an Oystercatcher went west offshore and 4 Lapwings went west over Poole Place. (BA)
This evening, another Curlew flew west over Ancton, calling.

Tuesday, 23rd June: A warm, dry and sunny day, with a light to moderate SE breeze taking the edge off the temperature along the coast.

At Ancton a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over early on, then late morning a Sparrowhawk on the hunt went over and a Coal Tit was singing - a surprisingly scarce species on the coast.

Six Swifts were seen over the M-o-S village centre this morning. In the afternoon Stock Doves were calling in the top of tall poplar trees in the observer's garden on the Harefield estate, then later a pair of Green Woodpeckers were feeding on ants on the lawn. (JB)

Monday, 22nd June:
Calm and sunny early on with some light cloud, the gentle SW breeze soon freshening to force 3-4.

There was considerable gull activity well offshore early this morning with at least 300 gulls - almost all Black-headed or Herring Gulls - in a feeding frenzy over a flat and glassy sea where presumably plenty of small fish were available. Also present amongst the flock were a few Gannets and at least 20 Sandwich Terns, with at least 10 more of the latter closer in, to and from their breeding colonies, judging by the number of small fish being carried! After a little while the wind freshened and the sea became much choppier, and within a short time the feeding frenzy had disappeared, when presumably the fish became much harder to locate.
A small trickle of Curlews moved west again - 7 in an hour and a half - as did 4 Mediterranean Gulls, whilst a Little Egret dropped in to feed on the shoreline briefly and a Green Woodpecker flew over Poole Place.
Little Egrets are now appearing regularly to feed along the shoreline - this one dropped in for a short while before flying off

Thursday, 18 June 2020

18th - 19th June 2020

Friday, 19th June: A grey, blustery and cool start with rain and a fresh SW wind, becoming dry by mid-morning and with some brightness later.

I sea-watched from behind the kiosk (0950-1120hrs) once the rain had stopped, sheltering from the brisk wind, where a flock of 30 Common Scoters distantly east was a bit of a surprise given the date. 
At least 10 Sandwich Terns and a single Common Tern were offshore again, heading promptly westwards to their breeding colonies (Pagham Hbr) with fish in bill once successful. A Curlew also headed west, as did a couple of Gannets, a Fulmar and a Mediterranean Gull. 

Thursday, 18th June:
Calm, grey and overcast with some light showers, the wind freshening to SW 4 by late morning.

At least a dozen Sandwich Terns were back and forth close inshore this morning, most successfully fishing before heading back westwards with their catch (presumably to the breeding colony at Pagham harbour?) Unusually for the time of year, a small movement of 20 Curlews also moved west – an early return movement perhaps indicating a poor breeding season elsewhere. 

Sandwich Terns fishing off the rock islands

There was no sign of the breeding Ringed Plovers or their chick, so they have either moved to somewhere less busy or the young has been predated – we can only hope they all still survive. A single adult Ringed Plover was seen flying westwards offshore later, though whether this is connected is unknown. 

The breeding Whitethroats are still along the hedgerows although their singing is much reduced, whilst the resident Buzzards near Poole Place were also still present and carrying prey. (Ed/BA) I was also delighted to find the Bee Orchids (see earlier report – with thanks to J&VK), although they are past their best now.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

13th - 15th June 2020

Monday, 15th June: Sunny and quite warm at times with a light southerly breeze and cloud developing later.
We walked along the beach this morning as far as Poole Place, but didn't see any Ringed Plovers this time. The was however some nice compensation in the form of four Bee Orchids on one of the banks. (J&VK)

Bee Orchid on bank adjoining Elmer beach (J&VK)

Sunday, 14th June: A look around Ancton farm fields this morning, where many of the breeding birds have now gone quiet. A Yellowhammer showed itself briefly, as did a Greenfinch, 3 Whitethroats gave some half-hearted song and a Skylark was singing high over the fields, whilst a Buzzard headed into the woods.
There was some botanical interest today; I found a single Pyramidal orchid - my first for the patch - in the rough at the edge of a corn field, but less pleasant, a colony of  Giant Hogweed plants - nasty things and if you come across them ensure you avoid making contact with any part of these plants.

Pyramidal Orchid and Giant Hogweed at Ancton farm fields

Saturday, 13th June: A bright and breezy day with a brisk SE wind 4-5.

Quiet offshore with nothing moving apart from a handful of distant Gannets and the regular gull species. The Ringed Plovers are still on the beach with their single but growing chick - though a couple of dogs were causing them some harassment whilst I was there. The highlight was watching a pair of Swallows gathering nesting material - grass, straw and mud - from the boggy puddle in front of Poole Place. The birds were repeatedly coming back and forth and must surely be nesting in the grounds there or close nearby.

Swallows collecting nesting materials from in front of Poole Place

At 12.30hrs today there were 6 Swifts over the village (JB); it is likely perhaps that more than one pair is nesting at the Beresford or even elsewhere....any reports gratefully received.