Tuesday, 22 June 2021

What doldrums?

June is typically the month when birding can get rather slow and repetitive, especially on a local patch. Quite apart from the extraordinary run of megas on a national scale in recent weeks, it’s also been pretty good at Pulborough, despite the fact I’ve not had a year tick since the end of May. 

Missing the Sanderling on the 11th was pretty gripping to say the least, especially as as far as I’m aware it’s the first record for the reserve since 2013. Still an excellent find by the Friday crew, just a shame I was halfway to Yorkshire at the time!

Sanderling, 11th June. Photo by Warren B

The Shelduck family are still present on the North Brooks, the six ducklings growing bigger by the day, while the lingering female Pintail is also still about - presumably here for the summer now. 

The lingering Pintail

The best news this past week has been the arrival of the first Avocet chicks of the year, after two failed attempts in the spring. Three chicks have been seen on the pool at West Mead since the weekend, and the adults have been doing a great job of chasing off any passing Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Carrion Crows. The hide at West Mead is still closed, so the best place to get a glimpse of them is with a scope from the tea terrace or by the dipping pond behind the visitor centre.

There have also been up to eight adult Avocets on the North Brooks of late, so perhaps we'll see some more chicks in the coming weeks. West Mead is also hosting a reasonable number of Lapwing chicks at the moment too, which is great to see. Redshank numbers seem to be increasing although I've still not seen any chicks as yet. 

Avocets at West Mead, photo by Andy Ashdown

The first returning Green Sandpipers are starting to trickle through with singles seen on the 17th and the 20th. A Wood Sandpiper on the North Brooks on the 14th was a little unexpected, although strangely the third year in a row we’ve had a mid June record of the species here. Presumably failed breeders returning from Scandinavia.

Highlights along the Arun recently have included regular Kingfisher sightings, good numbers of Reed Warblers (attracting the attentions of a Cuckoo or two) and presumably the same Great Crested Grebe I've seen from time to time here since April. I've only seen one on its own but have heard anecdotal records from a dog walker of two together recently.

Great Crested Grebe

The heath is always good value at this time of year with several recent evening visits producing at least three Nightjars, a roding Woodcock plus the delightful background soundtrack from the Field Crickets, more of which have been recently translocated here from Farnham. 

After a bumper spring for singing male Nightingales around the reserve (at least ten), the scrubby areas around the main trail are now busy with whistling and croaking adults tending to fledglings. The best areas to see or hear one are Adder Alley, the Hanger, or anywhere between the top of the Zig Zag path and Fattengates.

Whilst it isn't exactly a popular topic of conversation among non-birding friends and family, now we've passed the Summer Solstice, we can really start thinking about autumn and the first dispersing migrants. Waders should really get going in July, followed by the first proper waves of returning passerines in August. I'm still missing the likes of Whinchat, Redstart and Tree Pipit for my Pulborough year list, so these will be among the species on my radar in the next few weeks.