Monday, 8 October 2012

the week in Sussex; 1-7 October

a miserable, miserable late September only improved slighty at the beginning of the week, but a long overdue change in the weather brought a few decent birds towards the end of the week;

Bird of the week? well the author would like to nominate his RED-RUMPED SWALLOW at Seaford Head as a contender! but really, RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER is a rarer bird down here (the last was in 2009, and there have been Red-rumps at Arlington (4!), Cuckmere Haven and Rye Harbour in the same time period). The RBflick was also considerably more twitachble, with 50+ connecting during it's stay at Climping Gap on the 6th, inlcuding our own Luke Dray and George Kinnard. However, Seaford Head wins my site of the week however, with my Swallow and a YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER turning up on a phenomenal Sunday 7th October!

The Flycatcher was one of very few birds that stayed around long enough to be twitched during the week, probably the only other bird was the PECTORAL SANDPIPER that remained at Pulborough until the 4th.

Migration was still very much in evidence all through the week, this warm weather has (in my opinion) caused a much more productive October for summer migrants than recent years. Sand Martins were still going strong, with counts of 40 at Weir Wood on the 1st, 20 at Pagham on the 2nd and 50 again at Weir Wood on the 5th. The only Swift of the week was also at Weir Wood on the 1st. three Hobbies were seen, at Newhaven on the 1st, Pulborough the following day and at The Burgh on the 7th. Also at Newhaven was a late-ish WRYNECK seen on the 2nd. Turtle Dove is a very scarce migrant these days, so one at No Man's Land (Steyning) on the 4th was notable.

Of the common migrants, a handful of Reed Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warbler  were still being seen, including three of each of the latter at Seaford Head on the 4th. Yellow Wagtails included a remarkable 64 over Seaford Head on the 7th, with 12 here on the 4th and 30 around Southease the same day the other two large counts. Tree Pipit reports were reduced to two reports from the 7th, of three at Seaford Head and four at Sheepcote. Whinchat and Wheatear were widely spread, with a notable count of 50 of the latter in the Ouse Valley on the 4th, including what were considered likely to be a few Greenland-race birds.

Seawatching was generally poor. Splash Point and Selsey Bill largely failed, a Black-throated Diver past Splash the only notable bird from either throughout the week! A  Pomarine Skua was reported past Shoreham on the 1st, and a late report from 30th September concerned 5 Balearic Shearwater from the Newhaven-Dieppe ferry, seen in Sussex waters. Unfortunately, a Cory's Shearwater also seen was a bit closer to France!

Long-staying birds from last week included the afro-mentioned Pectoral Sandpiper, the Osprey in the Adur (to the 7th), and the Pagham Spoonbill (to the 1st).

Among more classic October migrants, Siskin movements picked up, and included a few reports of Redpoll. five Brambling were also reported at Seaford Head. There was also a considerable movement all along the coast on the 7th, with reports from Sheepcote, Seaford Head and Birling Gap all reporting excellent movemets of Chaffinch (200+), Goldfinch (1000+), Skylark (100+), Meadow Pipit (300+) and Pied Wagtail (100+). A few Redwing were reported, included nine at Seaford Head and three at Sheepcote on the 7th, while a Woodlark at Climping on 4th represented the quality. Merlins were reported at Burpham, Pulborough and Seaford Head, and two Short-eared Owls were at Sheepcote on the 7th.

Nuthatch are a very rare visitor to the coast, but two were reported this week, I believe the third and fourth of the autumn! One at Church Norton on the 2nd was the observers first there in 20 years(!), while another was at Bailiffscourt (Climping) on the 6th.

And finally, it really wouldn't be a complete review without documenting the Jay invasion! here's a summary of all reports gleaned from the SOS, which surely represent the tip on the Iceberg! for some reason the only reports I could find were from the 4th onwards, though there were obviously more birds moving prior to this!

4th- 20 at Seaford Head
82W through Newhaven!! the highest count by far this week
21 at West Wittering

5th- 15-20 at Telscome Tye
10W through Newhaven

6th- 23N at Sheepcote

7th- 10 at Sheepcote
an observer at Pevensey noted that they 'seemed to outumber Woodpigeons at one point'!
15-45 at Beachy Head
11 at Steyning Roundhill

in addition to these were numerous counts of smaller numbers from all over the county- some are obviously just resident birds but I expect there's a high probability any Jay seen at the moment, especially near the coast, may be of continental origin. I've said it before, but if we don't find another sussex Nutcracker in a year like this we probably never will! the last was in the 60's or 70's overflying Beachy Head (and what a fly-over that would have been for the observer!)

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