Sunday, 11 August 2019

Late July/early August

Things are starting to get distinctly autumnal now with my dewy early morning patch walks increasingly punctuated by the odd munched blackberry and occasional half-hearted bursts of song from returning Willow Warblers.

The bulk of the action these past few weeks has been on the North Brooks, as this is the only part of the reserve still holding any real water. A Garganey was a nice find among the Teal and Shoveler on 27th July, while a Great Egret was seen on 19th and 21st July.

The impressive national influx of Wood Sandpipers delivered us one on 28th July with presumably the same bird still present on and off until the time of writing.

There's been a decent selection of commoner waders too and some impressive counts. On the morning of 30th July a tight flock of shanks was huddled in a corner of the North Brooks, which only allowed themselves to be counted and identified when a passing Marsh Harrier spooked everything up into the air - 31 Redshanks and 2 Greenshanks.

Black-tailed Godwits and Green Sandpipers have been recorded in good numbers too, with up to 50 and 13 present on some days, respectively. There have also been smaller numbers of Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper and Snipe as well as singles of Ruff and Ringed Plover on 27th July and 8th August, respectively, and a flyover Whimbrel on 19th July.
Redshanks and Greenshanks

Wood Sandpiper - photo by Paul Davy
Overshadowing even the best of the waders though has to be the juvenile Yellow-legged Gull which dropped in for a quarter of an hour on the morning of 3rd August. I was pretty sure what it was as soon as I saw it fly in but thanks must go to David Campbell, Josh Jones and Ed Stubbs for helping to confirm the ID. For previous records of this species at the Brooks one has to go back to a time prior to it being split from Herring Gull, with records on 13th January 1996 and 8th December 2000. If anyone knows of any other more recent records please let me know!

Yellow-legged Gull

A jaunt down to Selsey/Pagham on Saturday morning just gone didn't produce the hoped for seawatching fireworks in stormy conditions, with just a few dozen Gannets, a couple of Kittiwakes, singles of Fulmar and Knot and a few Terns past but it was good to get flight views of the Squacco Heron at Halsey's Farm having dipped on it during the week.


Prior to this summer I'd never seen a juvenile Cuckoo being fed by its foster parents so, after Paul's find of a Dunnock-reared one near the church the other week, it was great to stumble across another along the Arun this morning, being tended to by its Reed Warbler hosts.
Juvenile Cuckoo

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