As of 10 November 2015, a total of 430 species have been recorded this year

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Tuesday, 20 September 2011

A day spent in SUSSEX - LGRE Diary Notes


Fresh SW winds and light drizzle from time to time - generally overcast and grey


Present for its fifth day, the juvenile PALLID HARRIER was performing as I arrived, hunting a narrow game strip just NE of the village. The gathering of over 40 observers were delighted - Matt Eade and others obtaining some nice flight shots. It disappeared out of view but whilst chatting to John and Liz Lees, I relocated it flying just below the ridge on Perry Hill. It quickly pounced on a small rodent and within no time at all was set upon by a pair of Common Kestrels. It dropped the creature a couple of times but managed to keep with it and sat with it on the ground for the odd minute. It then disappeared out of view south over the ridge.

I decided to walk the footpath leading out of Burpham village towards Perry Hill and after three quarters of a mile, the footpath opened out to give an excellent panoramic view of the area. I was amazed at the number of raptors present in the area, most likely attracted by the large number of game strips set aside and good numbers of small passerines such as Linnets. I saw a beautiful adult male HEN HARRIER, juvenile MARSH HARRIER, Peregrine, Red Kite, HOBBY, several Common Buzzards and Sparrowhawk.

As I walked back to the village at 1350 hours, the PALLID HARRIER reappeared from the north and flew right over my head, affording outstanding views. It then dropped down on to another small rodent in the field immediately adjacent to Lample House and captured it in its talons. At just 40 yards range, it sat on the ground in front of me and proceeded to eat and tear apart its prey. The views were exceptional - and such a handsome bird this is, especially orange-rufous on the underparts and boldly collared.

The bird clearly had a well-rehearsed circuit which it seemed to repeat about once every two hours. It was particularly keen on hunting the narrow game strips. There were two main vantage points close to Burpham village: about 50 yards along the tarmac track towards Burpham High Barn or from the high point further up the main road towards Peppermill Farm. Both locations provided excellent opportunities for connection. There is sufficient parking on the verges for about 20 vehicles.


I joined Roger Charlwood on the windswept beach - he had just lost the juvenile SABINE'S GULL from his view. I scanned the beach for some time but could only locate a first-winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL, juvenile Kittiwake, a nice juvenile ARCTIC TERN, 3 Common Terns and 2 Rock Pipits. I briefly snatched a view of the Sab's before it was blown behind the West Breakwater but as I walked back to the car park, I eventually relocated it in the shelter of the main harbour. It then returned to the shingle of the West Beach, where it afforded views down to just a few feet. In fact it was very easy to walk past as it camouflaged itself on the beach.


My last port of call of the day was at the west end of Weir Wood Reservoir from the car park. Newly arrived were a pack of 15 Dunlin and 8 Ringed Plover, whilst 2 Green Sandpipers and a lone Common Greenshank remained from last week.

Present from last Thursday however was the elusive 'stint' and at 600 yards minimum, it was very difficult to establish its true identity. It blended in with the background of the mud and was ridiculously tiny - always 50 yards or more behind the three rafts and occasionally left of the inlet stream. In my opinion, it was clearly NOT a Temminck's Stint. It had a highly characteristic feeding action, very reminiscent of Wilson's Phalarope. It fed at a 45 degree angle, keeping its rear end high off the ground. The tail and wing-tips also seemed to be identical in length and the greyish-brown breastband was complete and extended on to the flank sides and on to the shoulders. The bill was quite long, with what appeared to be a forking eye-stripe and a heavily contrasting dark crown. It fed very meticulously, keeping close to the ground and in the same area; it was very inactive. The chin and throat were white, as was an area on the forehead, whilst the upperwings and mantle were heavily marked by dark-centred feathers.

It was most likely a LEAST SANDPIPER but the fact that it often appeared quite lanky and the legs sometimes markedly pale, Long-toed Stint could be a possibility. I was also not able to rule out an adult Little Stint in moult, although this did seem unlikely considering its appearance. Hopefully somebody will be able to get some sort of record shot of it. It remained until dusk.

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