Sunday, 10 February 2019

Pulborough, 8th-10th February

After the excitement of realising I'd reached my UK 300 with last weekend's Bonaparte's Gull and another after work dash on Thursday to see my first inland/Surrey Black-throated Diver at Mercer's Lake near Redhill, a relatively quiet three day weekend meant only one thing: hitting the patch hard.

It's been a slower start to the Pulborough list this year with the likes of Bewick's Swan, Hawfinch and even Tawny Owl still missing, even though they were all on the list by this time in 2018. That's one of the joys of patch birding though; every year is different. Indeed, I'm only aware of one Hawfinch record at the Brooks so far in 2019 - will we ever see numbers like last winter's again, I wonder?

Nonetheless, the prospect of some windblown surprises courtesy of 'Storm Erik' had my hopes heightened for at least a couple of year ticks and perhaps something even better.

Friday was very wet and windy and although I'd planned to do an all-dayer I had to admit defeat early afternoon, with singles of Ruff and Dunlin, 110+ Black-tailed Godwits, a cream cap Marsh Harrier, Peregrine, Golden Plover (heard only), 2 Little Egrets, 3 Snipe, 2 adult Great Black-backed Gulls, at least 40 Common Gull and 9 Shelduck the best I could find in the challenging conditions.

The GBBGs were nice to see as they're the least common of the commoner Gulls to get on the deck here, in fact former warden Pete Hughes today said he reckons he's seen more Common Cranes grounded at Pulborough than GBBGs! Presumably the two seen earlier in the week by Gary Trew and Alan Kitson, they became a regular fixture of the weekend, present again for much of the day on Saturday and just one making a brief appearance on Sunday morning. The increase in Black-tailed Godwits was interesting as numbers have been pretty low since Christmas and, as predicted by Pete H, numbers increased further with at least 480 present on Saturday and Sunday, a good number of them bearing leg rings.
Great Black-backed Gulls
An all day session in much better weather on Saturday got off to an auspicious start when I picked up what I believed to be a first winter Caspian Gull among the Common Gulls and a few Herrings Gulls on the North Brooks. It only stayed for a few minutes, sadly, but I managed a few grainy phonescoped shots which were enough to get confirmation of the ID from Ed Stubbs and Josh Jones at BirdGuides. A first record for Pulborough and perhaps one of the Goring birds that had been blown up the valley by Storm Erik, or simply just fancied a change of scene!
Caspian Gull
Saturday proved to be an excellent day with 66 species recorded in 9 hours. Juliet Moore picked up a Merlin blasting northwest over the Hanger towards the farmland just across the Arun. What was presumably the same bird was seen again from my attic on Sunday afternoon putting the wind up the Meadow Pipits in the same area. Other bits of note were a leucistic Black-headed Gull, 5 Ruff, 4 Dunlin, a Little Egret, 20 Shelduck and at least two Marsh Harriers. A late afternoon search for the lingering Woodlarks in Uppertons Field proved fruitless but a brief glimpse of a ringtail Hen Harrier being chased along the bank of the Arun by a Carrion Crow was more than ample consolation.
Leucistic Black-headed Gull

The Hen Harrier made an appearance again on Sunday afternoon, as it was flushed up from the long grass near Hail's View by Crows and flew towards the Mid Brooks. Other highlights from today's visit were my first patch Tufted Ducks of the year - a pair on the North Brooks late morning - along with the first singing Reed Bunting, 3 Ruff and an immature Marsh Harrier. At Hail's View, in addition to the Hen Harrier, were a single Dunlin, a pair of Stonechat and two Red Kites. A tight flock of at least 30 Golden Plover flew south early afternoon.
Tufted Ducks

The water levels have really gone up thanks to recent rainfall and the snow melt from off the Downs last week and the Arun is the closest I've seen it to overtopping its banks since we moved down to Pulborough in 2017. The next few days could be interesting!

No comments:

Post a Comment