Spring 2016: Selsey Bill summary

Selsey Sea-watching - Spring Summary March-May 2016 :            Compiled by Justin Atkinson

557 hours watched this spring; previous highest hours total was 549. (I’d rather not talk about the weather or wind direction!)

Great Northern Diver – Birds present throughout March, April and May, last recorded on 27th May with one offshore. Maximum count this year was 13os on 10th March. This is an early date for the peak, which normally occurs in April, also numbers tailed off earlier than in previous years.

Red-throated Diver – A good spring total of 206 passed eastwards, with the peak day being the 2nd April, when there were 57, and the second highest day total being 34 east the following day. Last seen on 12th May when one flew east.

Black-throated Diver – Similar to the last few years, this was a very poor spring for this species with only eight seen passing up channel. The last record was two flying east on 2nd April.

Diver sp – Spring total – 51 east.

Great-crested Grebe – Birds noted, on several days, moving in both directions, in small numbers, throughout the period. The highest day count was seven west 24th March.

Slavonian Grebe – Only five seen in March, last record, one offshore on the 26th.

Fulmar – Seen on most days, with an obvious peak at the end of April/beginning of May. Birds were seen flying in both directions but mostly westwards.

Storm Petrel – Two present on 9th May (one day later than the earliest ever record).

Balearic Shearwater – Two flew west 27th March.  Eight flew east on 21st April (flocks of six and two).

Manx Shearwater – The first were on 21st April when several flocks totalling 57 birds flew east (largest flock was 16 birds). This was bettered on the 29th April with 68 passing west. Spring total was 83 east and 102 west. Some birds were seen lingering/feeding offshore on the 1st May, unusual for this species at this site.

Cory’s Shearwater – One seen flying east, whilst watching Manxies on 1st May, was spectacular!

Gannet – Birds seen every day in varying numbers. Only two counts over 200, being 298 east 22nd April and 290 east 5th May. Twice as many birds were seen moving east than west during the period (c4000e, c2000w).

Shag – Only two records, one 12th March and one 1st April, both flew east.

Little Egret – One and twos seen on several days in April and May, including three east 8th May and four north, one east on 25th May.

Grey Heron – A handful of records of single birds, either on the beach, or over the gardens, and one bird was seen flying in off the sea on 13th April.

Mute Swan – Only one record. One flew out to sea but then turned back north and flew inland on 10th March.

Brent Goose – Spring total for eastward bound birds was 2,931, with the majority moving in March (2040e). Peak day was 24th March when 554 flew east. A leucistic bird passed with a flock on 26th March. Last recorded were two east 28th May.

Canada Goose – Three records. One east 6th May, one west 7th May and one west 30th May.

Greylag Goose – The sole record was of four flying north 11th March.

Shelduck – Birds seen regularly, with singles or small flocks in both directions.

Wigeon – A total of 24 flew east in March, including 17 on 14th. None were seen in April or May.

Gadwall – Two in April flying west and two groups of four west in May.

Mallard – One to six birds present.

Teal – Two east on 19th March. Only six seen in April.

Pintail – One flew east 22nd March was the only record.

Garganey – A male flew east with Scoter on 6th May, oh yes.

Shoveler – A spring total of 31, with the bulk of these being in March. The peak day was 15th March with 17e.

Tufted Duck – Three records, four east 4th April, one east 7th May and a flock of seven west 14th May.

Eider – One was seen offshore throughout March and into April. Small numbers passed east mainly in March.

Common Scoter – Spring total – 4,011 east, with over 2,000 of these in April. The peak day was 520 east on 10th April. A few were seen offshore on the odd day with 30 offshore on 22nd April being the largest flock. Birds continued to pass eastwards, albeit in diminished numbers, until the end of May.

Velvet Scoter – Just one record, one east on 2nd April.

Red-breasted Merganser – Seen every day in March and April. Last seen on 14th May with four flying east. Birds moved in both directions but more east than west. Several birds offshore with a peak count of 18os on 19th March.

Kestrel – The odd bird seen hunting over the field or flying over the gardens in March and April. Singles north 21st and 23rd April would appear to be incoming migrants.

Hobby – First seen on 17th April when one flew in off the sea. The spring total was thirteen. Four in off the sea in close succession on 6th May.

Peregrine – Five sightings, of single birds, during the period, including one chasing Sandwich Tern on 27th March, and one hunting for migrants offshore on 19th March.

Merlin – One flew in off the sea on 25th April. One offshore on 1st May was chased by an Arctic Skua. One flew west 4th May.

Sparrowhawk – Single birds, presumably looking for tired migrants, seen on several days throughout the period.

Buzzard – One flew over on 22nd March and another on 12th April.

Red Kite – One coasted west on 22nd March and another over on 30th.

Red-legged Partridge – Following up a report from a local resident a single bird was seen in a nearby garden on 17th March. Two birds were seen in the same area on 1st April and then fairly regularly until the middle of May.

Oystercatcher – Seen every day. Largest count was 22 on the shingle bar on 14th March.

Avocet – Five flew east 13th March.

Ringed Plover – Twenty five east, including a flock of 22 on 5th May. A few more in the days after.

Little Ringed Plover – One west 30th April.

Golden Plover – Three records, 15 on 3rd March, one on 16th April and two on 14th May, all west.

Grey Plover – A spring total of 216, with over half of these in May. Peak day was the 9th May with 47e.

Knot – Only 21 were seen in April and ten in May.

Sanderling – 492 moved up channel with the vast majority of these passing in May. 155e on 9th May was the highest day count.

Dunlin – A confusing picture as nearly as many birds went west as east.

Black-tailed Godwit – One flew west on 2nd May.

Bar-tailed Godwit – Disappointing. Spring total was 117. Peak day was 21st April with 45e.

Whimbrel – Spring total – 447 east, most of these in April, where the peak day was on the 21st with 129 flying east. Several small flocks also passed west during the period.

Curlew – 45 east in March and a handful of singles thereafter.

Redshank – Four records. A flock of nine flew east 10th April. Four east on 14th April. A flock of thirteen east on 10th May, and three flew west on 12th May.

Greenshank – One west on 27th March.

Common Sandpiper – First seen on 16th April, with one flying west along the beach. Recorded on a further six days, including two east and three on the beach on 10th May.

Turnstone – Seen every day. 30 on the beach on 31st March was the maximum count. Birds passed in both directions with very few records after mid May.

Pomarine Skua – A spring total of 81, seventeen in April and 64 (63e, 1os) in May. First seen on 21st April with a flock of  nine east and another single. Another seven birds were seen in April, two on 22nd and a flock of five in the evening of the 23rd. A single east on the 4th May was followed by the ‘big’ day on the 5th when a total of 33 flew east. Another eighteen were seen the day after and then ten on the 8th, with one of these settled offshore, with an Arctic Skua, before moving on. A single bird was seen on the 11th and the last of the season was seen sitting on the sea on the 21st.

Arctic Skua – A poor spring. First recorded on 26th March, when two flew east. Spring total was 97, with over half of these in May. The peak day was the 5th May when fourteen were seen. One landed on sea next to a Pom on the 8th May.

Great Skua – One east on 22nd March was the first and the only March record. The spring total was 49, with 30 of these in April. There were also many days when one or two birds were seen lingering offshore.

Mediterranean Gull – Only fifty six seen, mostly in April, with most birds passing in pairs.

Little Gull – Spring total – 63 east. The biggest day was the 3rd April when 19 were recorded.

Black-headed Gull – Only two noteworthy passage counts, forty east on 29th March and 38 east on 3rd April.

Common Gull – Under recorded. 140 east in April, including 41 on the 1st.

Kittiwake – Only 74 seen, birds moved in both directions.

Lesser Black-backed Gull - The only noteworthy record was of seven flying east on 7th April.

Great Black-backed Gull - The only noteworthy record was of 58 flying east on 8th May.

Herring Gull – There were three counts of over 500 birds, all achieved on very low tides. 622 present on 12th March, 586 the day after and 641 present on 8th May.

Sandwich Tern – Spring total was 2,681, with three quarters of those passing in April. First obvious passage was 52 east 26th March. There were two counts over 200 in April, 246 east on 10th and 292 east on 21st. Only one count over 100 in May, which was 167 east on 5th.  Birds offshore throughout.

Roseate Tern – One record of a bird flying east, with Commons, on 23rd April.

Common Tern – The first was a single flying east on 26th March, only one other seen in March. Spring total was 1,689. Birds in varying numbers seen offshore.

Arctic Tern – First recorded on 22nd April, with a further two in that month. Only 22 more positively identified in May.

Commic Tern – Spring total was 5019, with over 3000 of these being seen in May. Notable day counts were 404 east on 23rd April and 846 east on 10th May.

Little Tern – The first were two east on 15th April. The spring total was 189 east, with 52 in April and 137 in May. Very difficult to ascertain if birds of this species are actually moving, but 20 east on 23rd April suggested proper passage. Towards the end of April, many birds were lingering offshore, such as 56 on 26th April.

Black Tern – A higher than average spring total of 117;  31 in April, 86 in May. First seen was one flying east 21st April. 28 flew east 22nd April, 39 flew east 5th May.

Auk sp – Spring totals were 104 east and 239 west, most birds being seen in May.

Black Guillemot – One flew east on 1st April.

Guillemot – Only eighteen seen with most of these moving west.

Razorbill – Only 28 seen with most of these moving west.

Ring necked Parakeet – One flew south out over the sea before turning back north on 31st March.

Nightjar – One seen flying in off the sea, on 7th May, proceeded to linger offshore hawking insects, before disappearing off again south.

Cuckoo - A single record of a bird present in the gardens on 12th May.

Short-eared owl – Two birds flew in off the sea in April, one on 1st and one on 19th.

Swift – First record was two flying north on 20th April. Spring total was 190 north. 36 came in on 29th April, but the only other two counts above thirty were at the end of May, 30 on 30th and 76 on 31st.

Skylark – Three records, all in off. One on 12th March, one the day after and one on 3rd April.

Sand Martin  Eleven flying north on 23rd March were the first, with only one more seen in that month. 42 came in in April and only four in May.

Swallow – First seen on 24th March when one flew north. Spring total was 918, and the peak count was 131 north on 21st April. Birds were still coming in at the end of May.

Red-rumped Swallow – One flew over the ‘secret garden’ and headed off north on 12th May.

House Martin – Only one seen in March on the 29th. Spring total was 57, and half of these were seen on 29th April. c20 birds were seen collecting mud from the puddles for their nests nearby.

Tree Pipit – Two records. One present in the Bill House garden on 30th March was still there the next day. One flew in off the sea on 5th May.

Meadow Pipit – Inward flying migrants totalled 1,569 in March with the biggest day being 18th when 625 flew north. A further 90 were seen in April and a late straggler on 28th May.

Rock Pipit – Only one record of a bird on the beach on 10th March.

Yellow Wagtail – First seen with one north on 16th April, and a further 32 in that month. 13 more came in during May.

Blue-headed Wagtail – One flew in on 12th May and was seen briefly in the gardens before moving on.

Pied Wagtail – 84 came in during March and ten in April. 26 north on 18th March was the biggest day.

White Wagtail – Only one record, one north on 12th May.

Grey Wagtail – Two records, both in March, one west on the 5th and one north on the 17th.

Jackdaw – A single bird flew in off the sea from a long way out on 6th March.

Carrion Crow – Birds regularly seen flying in off the sea from a long way out.

Hooded Crow – One appeared on the shingle bar on 12th April.

Raven – Two landed on the Oval Field on the 26th March, before heading off west, only the second record for the site. Two further sightings were likely to involve the same birds, two on the 29th March and a single on 3rd April.

Rook – One flew in off the sea from a long way out on 17th April.

Nightingale – One present in the gardens on 13th April was the only record.

Wren – One flying north on 20th March was unusual.

Black Redstart – Four sightings, one present on 29th March and again the next day.  Two present 12th May and one on 22nd May.

Redstart – A good spring. First seen on 9th April. Nine more seen, with four on 19th April.

Whinchat – One present on 11th May.

Stonechat – Three records, one present on 11th March, a different bird (possibly s.r.rubicola) was seen the following day, and another individual present on 15th March.

Wheatear – The first returning bird was one on the beach on 24th March. Surprisingly there was only one other in March on 29th. 34 were seen in April and only four in May.

Redwing – One flying in off the sea on 10th March was killed by Herring Gulls before reaching the beach.

Song Thrush – One seen on 14th March and two on the 17th May have been migrants.

Starling – Birds crossing the channel were one north on 11th March and 53 north on the 19th.

Grasshopper Warbler – One present in the gardens on 28th April.

Reed Warbler – Two records, both in May, one on 11th and one on 20th.

Sedge Warbler – Three records, one in the gardens on 30th April, one on 2nd May and another on 11th.

Common Whitethroat – First seen on 13th April. Then regularly seen with the odd migrant but mainly a resident pair or two in the gardens.

Lesser Whitethroat – The only record was of two present on 2nd May.

Blackcap – One present on 9th April was the first. A further eleven were recorded, with a maximum of four on 2nd May.

Willow Warbler – First seen on 9th April. Only thirteen more seen, with a maximum of five on 19th April.

Chiffchaff – The first definite migrants were seen on 18th March, when there were two in the gardens and a single bird flew in off the sea. One to six were then seen most days, up to early May, in the gardens.

Pied Flycatcher – One present in the gardens on 10th May, was the first record for over ten years.

Spotted Flycatcher – Only one seen, 11th May.

Marsh Tit –One seen briefly by the bench on 30th March was the first record for 50 years.

Serin – A male was seen in the gardens from 13th April to 19th May, but proved to be very elusive throughout its stay.

Goldfinch – Small numbers flying north in April, including 63 on 22nd.

Linnet – Small numbers flying north in April, including 26 north on the 10th.

Yellowhammer – One present 3rd April was unusual.





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