THE RIVER ARUN
As usual, on the 1st January, the year list has restarted and it started, as like last year with a Robin sitting on the pavement in near darkness as I walked down the three mile road to the river at 6:15am. This was soon followed by the commoner species such as Woodpigeon, the noise of a dispersing Carrion Crow roost, screeching Herring Gulls and calling Blackbirds. It was just about getting light when I arrived at the river Arun illuminating more year ticks, including Mallard, Mute Swan and dozens of Redshanks, noisily "peeping" as they fled away from were I stood. The birding improved throughout the day and soon a Kingfisher had flown past followed by a flock of 13 Brent Geese heading towards the sea and 3 Little Grebes diving in the pale brown murky river. A flock of 7 Grey Herons was a rather unexpected sighting as was an inland Oystercatcher and 2 Buzzards. Other birds of note included several Meadow Pipits, 2 Grey Wagtails, 1 Green Woodpecker, 1 Kestrel and several Great Black-backed Gulls at the Marina.
After passing the golf course, that neighbours West Beach The wide expanse of sand and shingle stretch into the sea. From the channelised estuary dozens of Turnstones were already feeding along the edges of the wooden groins and on the shingle berms. A flock of 47+ Grey Plover were also resting on the beach and amongst them were 2 Dunlin.
SEAWATCHING FROM WEST BEACH
no rain at the start but gradually started to drizzle followed by light rain and eventualy moderate rainfall.
Seawatching, as always, is very challenging, and like many occasions I came away with most of my records as only probable sightings due to the short glimpses that I obtained from flypast birds and the fact that they were mostly very distant. Throughout the time dozens of adult Gannets flew past, mainly in a westerly direction. A single AUK species got my heart rate going as It appear a little like a probable LITTLE AUK or Puffin. Its underparts were pale grey/white, whilst upper-parts were black with a black cap, white throat and the hind ear coverts also white. The beak was stubby and short and profile much like a Puffin. The jizz was also closely reminiscent of a Puffin with fast whirring wing beats and a flying low/straight and fast over the water. This was followed by a probable Diver/Sawbill species, (with white primaries) and a probable record of a VELVET SCOTER, description: thick bodied, large and was entirely black except for all its secondaries being pure white, it was closely followed by 2 probable Common Scoters of the same size yet all dark brown black with no white secondaries. Identifiable species were mainly common, including occasional flypast flocks of Shelduck and flocks of generally a dozen Brent Geese. More unIDed records include a probable GREAT NORTHERN DIVER and a pair of probable RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, the later approaching further inland and present for at least 15mins on the water, yet to far for certain ID, description: the male was mostly visible, between swells showing the fully dark head, black back, white flanks and wings (when swimmming) and a red/brown chest.
WEST BEACH AND THE GOLF COURSE
A ♂ Stonechat was perched on gorse on the Golf Course grounds and further west along the beach a flock of 10+ Greenfinches were feeding on the beach. A little more seawatching further west along the beach was less exciting except for a flypast ad. winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL. Walking back west produced a few last species including 4 Sanderling, sprinting around the beach followed by short feeding frenzies.