Thursday, 19 March 2020

Every Little helps....

It's been over a decade since I saw my first ever Little Gull at Pulborough Brooks, and since I started regularly patch watching the reserve three years ago it's been a species I've wanted to catch up with again but failed to do so - until today!

The low cloud and hint of drizzle, combined with a shift to northeasterly wind, promised something in the way of a grounded migrant or two as I arrived at the Brooks this morning. The North Brooks was relatively quiet, but as soon as I sat down in Winpenny hide and scanned the South Brooks I picked up an adult Little Gull flying back and forth with its distinctive flight style, bobbing down to the water here and there to pick up a morsel or two.

After a while it landed and, as I struggled to get a photo or some video in the increasingly poor visibility, a second bird dropped out of the sky to join it. Later in the morning Paul Davy had two at nearby Widney Brooks and by lunchtime there were four at Pulborough.

I'm pleased to say this takes me to 105 for my Pulborough year list; my best start to a year here yet.

My shaky camera video attempt below of the first bird early morning, and a lovely slow-mo clip from Paul Davy.

Monday, 2 March 2020

Signs of spring

The water levels remain very high at Pulborough but it's still been an excellent week on the reserve, with several new birds for the year, taking the 2020 site total past the hundred mark, with my own year list now teetering on 99.

Despite the seemingly ceaseless barrage of Atlantic storms in recent weeks, the steady (and early!) emergence of various Prunus blossoms, Grey Willow catkins and early wild flowers in increasingly vibrant spells of sunshine truly herald the transitioning seasons - and the birds are playing ball too.

First up was a Brent Goose, of the pale-bellied race hrota, found by Gary Trew on the 25th, and still present as of today. Then on the 26th an unusually early drake Garganey turned up - possibly the first true spring migrant of the year. It's also stuck around for a few days, and was certainly still present as of Sunday. 

The weekend saw some signs of early wader movement with the first Redshank of the year at West Mead on Saturday - probably wondering where all its nesting habitat has gone, as site manager Julianne pointed out - followed by the first Curlew of the year on Sunday. Adding to the spring feel was a Chiffchaff flycatching and intermittently singing at Redstart Corner on Sunday morning, my first one on the reserve proper this year after one on the edge of the sewage works on 6th February. 

Winter isn't quite done with us yet, however, with three White-fronted Geese still present this morning plus the usual selection of ducks, though numbers are admittedly starting to dwindle.

Garganey at West Mead, 26th February. Photo: Chris & Juliet Moore

Redshank at West Mead, 29th February

Curlew at West Mead, 1st March

Chiffchaff at Redstart Corner, 1st March