Monday, 19 August 2019

Purple patch

Great weekend just gone with a patch year tick, a patch lifer, a nocmig tick and a first for Pulborough!

One of the absolute joys of patch birding at this time of year has to be the returning Redstarts, brightening up the increasingly tired-looking landscape and drab fenceposts. The species' favourite fenceline at Pulborough, between Little Hanger and Redstart Corner, delivered the goods on Saturday morning with at least four 'firetails' flitting about the hedgerow and chasing each around. A nice way to reach 135 for the patch year list.
Redstart - photo by Andy Ashdown
The next year tick (and patch lifer) came on Sunday morning and was an altogether less expected species, as a check of the wooded edge of the heath produced a Wood Warbler lurking among a busy tit flock. It gave itself away with a burst of its unmistakable song but proved elusive, affording only brief glimpses through the rain-soaked foliage. Rather more showy was a Firecrest in the same flock; my first here for a few weeks.

On Saturday I caught up on my most recent nocmig session from the night of 12th-13th and was pleased to discover a single call from a Tree Pipit hidden among the Robins and Wrens in the dawn chorus.
And the first for Pulborough? Not a bird but a moth! I was closing up the back door on Sunday evening when I noticed a moth flying around inside. Even in the gloom I could see it was a relatively small, dark noctuid with metallic markings on its wings catching the light from the other room. I managed to capture it in a jam jar and discovered it to be a Dewick's Plusia! After taking a few photos I iRecorded it and this morning received an email from the county recorder requesting more information and later confirming it to be a first record for Pulborough. 
Dewick's Plusia

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