Friday 17 November 2023

Diverless etc

Today, Friday, a brief trip at lunchtime after chores to see if any of the harbour's Great Northern Divers were on show.  Sadly not and, had I checked GoingBirding I would have seen three were off the Oysterbeds at the same time!! This juvenile Shag was on a channel marker and the Mulberry Harbour had about 150 (visible) waders roosting on it, nearly all Turnstones. And no colour ringed gulls today. Last week's BHG was a two year old ringed as age class 3 near Widnes.

Wednesday's PB outing had plenty of the usual suspects but with heavy flooding the birds were all well scattered. Five Pochard were probably the most I've seen there ever. PJ/BJ had the three White-fronted Geese and two of the eagles from Rackham which is why we couldn't find them at Pulborough!!

*EDIT February 2014 saw 20 Pochard at Pulborough but only recorded in single figures on two other occasions.

Despite the very sunny conditions and in response to that, lots of visitors, the best on offer were a few Redwings and Fieldfares and two calling Ravens which chased each other all across the reserve and off towards Pulborough village. Still Red Admirals, Common Darters and Buff-tailed Bees on the wing

The view north bound from Bury Hill was stunning with so much flooding.

Below, South Brooks floods from restaurant and Westmead.

Thursday 9 November 2023

A break in the weather...

Some better weather saw a brief outing to Arundel on Tuesday where the two resident Peregrines were perched up and well lit in the sunshine. Fifteen or so Cattle Egrets flew in and a similar number were in the fields south of the reserve on leaving for home so probably 25+ at least.

** EDIT Over 60 Cattle Egret and a dozen Marsh Harriers came in to the roost that night when late opening was available.

One heavily back-lit hovering Kingfisher and a few Chiffchaffs, some singing, were the best-of-the-rest but after the previous weeks of dire weather just being out in the sun was very pleasant and a few hovers, Red Admirals and Common Darters also enjoyed stunning themselves. A lone Marsh Harrier appeared but headed back northwards presumably to return to roost here later in the afternoon.

Wednesday 8 November 2023

Titchfield, sunny day.

Monday was the first dry day for some time and warm enough for five species of hoverfly on warm, sheltered Ivy plus a few Common Darters, Buff-tailed Bees, Red Admirals and Vespula spp.

The flurry of south coast Leach's Petrels after Storm Ciaran had finished before I could get out although one was still present at Selesy Bill early today. Typically, offshore at Hill Head today was birdless. 

The water on the reserve was the highest I've seen with both North and South scrapes combined into one sheet of water and so too high for pretty much any birds; last week's Snipe count of 75+ was down to zero!

The Frying Pan and area to the south held most of the birds including plenty of the five common gull species and three Glossy Ibises, the first time I've seen them for a while.

Locally, no change with just half a dozen Shovelers going round in circles; and this was one of two patches of Armilleria (probably melea group, commonly known as Honey Fungus).

Last week a quick trip to the Oysterbeds produced the Long-tailed Duck fairly quickly although it disappeared frequently by diving before heading out into the north east corner of the harbour. Five Red-breasted Mergansers were the only other waterfowl and two Ravens were best-of-the-rest on the way back to the car.

Wednesday 11 October 2023

Like buses...


Stomorhina lunata, Melanostama mellinum,  Ectophasia crassipennis, Long-tailed Blue (x3), Long-winged Conehead (female), Xysticus app, mirid bug Lygus pratensis

I finally caught up with Stomorhina lunata, the Locust Blowfly, north of the park and west of the A3 with four individuals on dandelions. Precious few hovers but this Melanostoma mellinum stuck out.

At Sustainability many Xysticus spiders were hunkered down on dandelions and Achillea waiting for prey; one with a bee for lunch wasn't feeling photogenic and slipped away.

There were also plenty of these mirid bugs, Lygus pratensis which I've irecorded; interesting to see if they are accepted or felt to be spp only.

The TH WhatsApp group came up trumps, with special thanks to DS for site info, for Long-tailed Blue butterfly. When in Sussex I never 'twitched' the Brighton/Shoreham etc insects and indeed thought, until two days ago, that it was a species I'd seen in France. But no, they were Short-tailed and Provence Short-tailed. So these on Portsdown were  lifers. An initial group of people some distance off sat on the ground were, I assumed, butterfly watchers but turned out to be the local constabulary dealing with an issue!! 

But another camera toting individual directed me towards the bench which was and had been the focal point of LTB action for a couple of days. 

This particular individual (above) was very cooperative, a second was a brief fly through. Several day-flying Vapourer Moths were obvious and some Meadow Browns were still on the wing. And as always lately Red Admirals were everywhere.

After my first encounter with  Ectophasia crassipennis at Pulborough a few days ago, I was surprised to bump into this mating pair just in front of the LTB. Will I see more this year??

And finally, this female Long-winged Conehead sat still for some of us. The only downside was having to watch where you stood and especially knelt due to the dog t***s everywhere!!

Perhaps, given some large winter thrush arrivals recently, two people had a couple of Ring Ouzels a few hundred yards to the west of the butterflies.

Wednesday 4 October 2023

End of the month


At Pulborough the number of House Martins rose rapidly over the morning as more and more showed interest in the playback. PS, responsible for this set up, was there and like us was hoping it would encourage some of these juveniles to return and breed in the years ahead. Easily the most HMs I've seen this year and quite a spectacle for visitors through the reception's picture window.

A catch up with PW, regaling me with Spanish tales of southbound raptors, Sperm Whale plus good food, weather and company; sounded like a nice trip.

Whilst never close it was good to see all three eagles with this year's juvenile visible from the tea terrace even with the naked eye despite being on the othe side of the river!! An adult was perched up on the single bush left of Rook Wood, again across the river, and was harried by a Red Kite and a couple of Magpies. The third bird circled around and was eventually lost to view.

Three Ruff were easy enough to pick out but thankfully Warren, single-handed today, had his scope on the distant Curlew Sandpiper. One or two Hobbies were still showing well and, when disturbed by a staff vehicle, the sheer number of flushed duck of the usual four species was a nice sight even if it made locating the few flying waders a challenge.

Highlight of the day was finding my first Ectophasia crassipennis, a male, near Westmead. I'd hoped for a 'reserve first' but sadly it had been previously recorded in 2021 according to the Rob King list forwarded to me by CL. Click here for Falk's Flickr site for this species. 


A stroll to Ocean Park had a soundscape of overflying Meadow Pipits plus the odd Siskin. On site a couple of noisy Grey Wagtails were unhappy sharing the roof of Subway with a couple of Herring Gulls!!

On the pond the Tufted Ducks are slowly increasing and the first (single) Shoveler was typically going round in circles. A few Chiffchaffs were calling and a Cetti's Warbler dived into cover.

It was warm enough for a couple of Migrant Hawkers but a single Common Darter, whilst dirt common elsewhere, was a bit of a surprise here;  not a species I've seen here much over the years.


Today, a pre-health-check visit to the park found the carpark noisy with a tit flock of the usual five species plus the odd Goldcrest. Further round, cracking views of an irate male Firecrest and a couple of hundred yards further on a second less obliging individual. Finally, a look along the top access path flushed a very smart male Roe Buck followed by a glimpse of a second individual.


And lastly, a brief return to Pulborough where one adult eagle was on show delighting the crowds but little else whilst later at Arundel a sub-adult male Marsh Harrier and a couple of heard-only flyover Lesser Redpolls were the 'best of the bunch'. The ubiquitous group of Cattle Egrets along Mill Road numbered ten in a very brief stop taking advantage of a dozen or so cattle.

Wednesday 27 September 2023

This ain't Pembrokeshire!!


Well,  little to report locally with all the action being on various western islands and coastlines with this being probably the best autumn for years for American passerines, if you're able to travel. Locally, this Grey Phalarope at Titchfield was the only decent bird on offer with another in company of a Red-necked Phalarope at Pennington. West Sussex has also failed to produce much although the Arun valley eagles have been good value.

Above Grey Heron, Myathropa florea and Ivy Bee and Helophilus pendulus.

Monday 18 September 2023

Mid - September

Mothing is still pretty thin and it proved to be impossible to get to the last public session at GWH so 152/33 at home over two warm nights was better than average. The second night was a subset of the first with less individuals and substantially fewer species. An Old Lady both nights was presumably the same individual and a couple of other species were new-for-year. A few days later the catch dropped back to the usual minimal numbers with three fresh L-album Wainscots the best.

A good number of waders were present on the Farlington lake at high tide including twenty-five Greenshank. The RA fence line had at least three Whinchat and the North Binness Osprey was just visible although with 6.5/21 binoculars it could have been anything!!

A sparring pair of Kestrel and Sparrowhawk disturbed about thirty Meadow Pipits and a few Yellow Wagtails and later were probably responsible for all the waders departing the lake en masse, although most of the Greenshanks soon returned whilst all the godwits and Redshanks stayed out in the harbour.

Another recent feature has been inbound/outbound/coasting Siskins and Meadow Pipits even over the garden whilst clearing the trap or walking to local shops. Small numbers of Siskins were also evident on a local walk, at QECP(6) and Pulborough (10) whilst RCL had 100+ at Sandy Point - will this be a better-than-average finch winter?

A brief stop at Broadmarsh on a nice mill-pond-still morning saw both an adult and a 1cy Osprey fishing successfully with the latter perching up on Long Island and the former taking its catch to the usual North Binness dead trees. About 60+ Turnstone were roosting on boats and forty or more Little Egrets were moving about, some at least flushed by the Ospreys.

A catch up with PW at Pulborough prior to his birding jaunt in Spain was quiet but one brief eagle sighting and one Marsh Harrier plus a couple of Hobbies and a few waders including thirty Snipe and three Ruff were the best of the bunch. 

(Old Lady, a rather battered Aplocera spp, Rusty-dot Pearl, Dusky Thorn and Marbled Beauty)