|Surely my bird of the year locally: the first south-west Surrey Little Stint for 27 years.|
The warm weather broke down overnight, with a misty yet muggy southerly in position as I walked to Unstead Water Meadows and back after breakfast. There seemed to be more Robins around than usual and I counted at least 25 at the meadows alone, many of which were performing their peaceful autumn song. Presumably this species is on the move now, which would tie in with my noc-mig record two nights ago.
The most notable birds from a grand total of 40 were a Cetti's Warbler, calling in riverside vegetation, and a Firecrest in a mixed flock near Upper Unstead Farm. Nearly 100 Swallows and House Martins were foraging over the cattle herd and a handful of Blackcaps were skulking in bushes. Singles of Great Crested Grebe and Cormorant were at Broadwater Lake, where a Moorhen was guiding round a very small (and late) chick and two fine Canada x Greylag Goose hybrids were about.
|Hybrid action at Broadwater.|
It was overcast and gloomy at Thursley, where the mild southerly was pushing through the odd front of light drizzle. It was quiet – I only logged 37 species – and Pudmore didn't hold much save counts of 97 Greylag Geese and 55 Pied Wagtails. Migrants were thin on the ground with a Wheatear near Crossbill Corner the only obvious one; two Willow Warblers and a flyover Tree Pipit may have been on the move. Three Woodlarks and singles of Kestrel and Grey Wagtail where about, while a Kingfisher over the Moat was my first on the common this year away from Forked Pond.
A Firecrest was calling along the railway line in Farncombe late afternoon.
An excellent day out on the Selsey peninsula with Dave and Sam in largely warm, sunny conditions saw us yield no fewer than 106 species, a total we were very satisfied with. A little over seven hours around Pagham Harbour delivered a mighty 92 of these, with the highlight a first-winter Red-backed Shrike, present since 5 September, at the west end of the North Wall.
The North Wall and Halsey's and Honer Farms felt quite lively and passerine totals included two female-type Redstarts, Tree Pipit, three Whinchats, Lesser Whitethroat, three Willow Warblers, seven Wheatears and 25 or more Yellow Wagtails. Some 14 Cattle Egrets included youngsters still on the nest, while a Coot was swimming around with two very small chicks. Two each of Kingfisher and Sparrowhawk were also here.
|Wheatears, Willow Warbler and Whinchat.|
No fewer than 19 wader species during the day included a decent selection around the harbour. Four Knot, a female Ruff, two Turnstones, a juvenile Common Sandpiper, a handful of Grey Plovers, an odd, short-billed Greenshank (one of three) and stacks of Black-tailed Godwits were in among the commoner species from the North Wall.
|Greenshank and Common Sandpiper.|
Ferry Pool was quiet, though six Spotted Redshanks were on Ferry Channel. Church Norton was a little off form as well, though two Spotted Flycatchers were at Glebe Meadow, five Wheatears were about and a Whimbrel was on the mud. Bits off Norton Spit included 14 Sandwich Terns and eight Gannets.
We were at Medmerry a little after 2 pm. Here we managed a species list of 70 in the following three hours which were truly fantastic – stacks of birds in lovely early autumn conditions. Moving hirundines (including 500 or more Sand Martins) and Yellow Wagtails were a constant throughout. Raptors were well represented too with a juvenile Osprey fishing on Ruth’s Marsh, a couple of Marsh Harrier cruising about and a minimum of 10 Kestrels patrolling the fields.
Passerine action was headlined by a Grasshopper Warbler we flushed from a grassy bank near Earnley Viewpoint, with two Whinchats and five Wheatears also noted. However, the best of the action came at Stilt Pools, where we were happy to pick out four Little Stints. Up to five were here in late August but there had been no reports since then. Despite the poor light we enjoyed good views of this diminutive Calidrid, which has had a bumper autumn (see here).
Other bits on Stilt Pools included a female Ruff, two Little Ringed Plovers, four Cattle Egrets, singles of Common Sandpiper, Avocet and Pintail, eight Egyptian Geese and a striking first-winter Black-headed x Mediterranean Gull hybrid. A squealing Water Rail on the way back to the car completed an excellent day in the field.
A couple of House Martins were still on Godalming breeding grounds in the early evening.
|Distant waders at Pulborough (Pec is the left-most bird).|
|Little Stint action. What a bird! Also some mobile phone footage below ...|
|Tree Pipit record shot (it's that time of year I'm afraid!).|
|A slightly more distant wader than yesterday ...|