Thursday, 16 September 2010

A tale of three dips

Being ill off school was, in different ways, a blessing and a curse today. I dipped on a life tick, a british tick and a sussex tick, saw one brit yeartick and one sussex yeartick, met most of the East Sussex birding fraternity on my way, took a few paracetamol but didn't do my throat infection too many favours.

It all started at about 12:30, when Dad said he had heard about a Lapland Bunting at Seaford Head. I'd half-hoped one might find its way to our patch with the current invasion, and with birds already seen in Sussex it was no great surprise. But a Lappie would be a lifer, and the first recorded the local area since I started birding, so I was interested to say the least.

I decided to check up with Matt Eade first to see if he'd found it. He was working, so it would have been quite some feat, but he still provided me with an exact location, on the dungheap west of South Hill Barn. Then I scrolled down the text, and thought I had a halucination. 'White Stork in the Cuckmere too'. What the bliddy hell was that doing!

Re-checking Birdguides, I was relieved to see I hadn't missed it out first time, there was no mention of the bird! Having said that, I only get the freebie version.

At precisely 13:00, Me, Dad and his friend Martin, who was staying over, headed off to Seaford Head. Due to the creature needing excersise we took  the dog, but kept him in the car when we looked for the Lapland. We ran into Paul James, John King, Bob Self, Pete Wilson and Neil Greenaway, and Dad and Martin may have heard a Lap Bunt calling, but otherwise all that could be seen from the area was two Wheatear and a flyover Yellow wagtail. We arrived at 13:20. The dog walkers woul have been here non-stop from 08:00. Joys of birding eh! However we did pick up some information. The White Stork had been visible from Harry's Bush, but now it wasn't. However, harry's Bush did have a 'showy' Pied Flycatcher.

Walking down to Harry's Bush, we were stuck behind a group of kids on a school trip. The looks I got from the dog-walkers were nothing compared to some of this lot and their teachers, but seeing as I was a forteen-year old, outside of school, with binoculars, walking around with three men, I don't blame them particularly! Once we escaped the crowd and were at Harry's Bush, the four of us (Dad, Martin, Neil and me) scoured the area for the Pied Fly. But he seemed to have stagefright. A Spotted Flycatcher, a Tree Pipit and a Redstart (sussex yeartick) were some consolation. The White Stork wasn't visible either, but while scanning for it, dad picked up a thrush, flying out to sea from the scrape. At first he though it was a Stormcock, but it soon became apparent (to him at least!) that it was a dark thrush with pale scapulars. Ring Ouzel! Martin and I eventually picked it up flying over the sea, before it turned back and dropped into the bushes around the Coastguard Cottages. My only ever September Rouzel record!

Fairly typical Curson birding really, we dip all the good stuff, and find our own bird no-one even knew was there! I'd have liked the Lapland Bunt though, but I'll be scouring the entire area very carefully on saturday!

We did have one final check for the White Stork from the Golden galleon. It was nowhere to be seen. and we met Chris Brown, who had scoured further up the cuckmere for the bird, but to no avail. Slightly disappointed at my first ever triple dip, I went back home to try and get my health up to a 10-hour trek of the patch at the weekend!

Redstart and Ring Ouzel took my Sussex Year List to 164. I've had four other sussex yearticks since I got back from canada. On 8 Sep I saw a fantastic 6  Spotted Flycatchers and a gorgeous Short-eared Owl at Seaford Head, along with a few Willow warblers and Wheatears, one Lesser Whitethroat and a single Whinchat. On 12 Sep, Beachy Head yielded the Ortolan Bunting, which showed pretty well, along with nine Whinchat, two Tree Pipits, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Spotted Flycatcher and a few Willow warblers. However we dipped on Icterine warbler and Wryneck. The other yeartick on 12 Sep was a Yellow wagtail, flying over Denton Hill.

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