Monday, 18 April 2016

Hurst Spit - 14th April

A light (probably too light in hindsight!), south-east wind on Thursday 14th and I felt the urge to get up early and head for Hurst Spit for a pre-work seawatch. South-east winds are, generally speaking, the most productive winds for seawatching in the spring on the south coast of England, the direction pushing the birds towards shore if sufficiently strong. I arrived at 06:30 to a beautiful sunrise and wondered why I didn't get up at this time more often. I settled onto the shingle and rocks and began scanning, a Whimbrel was the first bird of note and then a flock of Commic Tern. The morning progressed with a trickle of birds the highlights being a female Garganey that flew east with Common Scoter and 2 Little Gull flying east with 11 Commic Tern. By 09:15 the passage had tailed off and I headed for work, here are the totals for Hurst this morning (all birds moving east) with comparison figures for other south coast seawatch spots;

  • Sandwich Tern -30 (St. Catherine's Point 39, Selsey Bill 131, Dungeness 861)
  • Common Tern - 49 (St. Catherine's Point 22, Selsey Bill 147, Dungeness 1400)
  • Little Gull - 2 at 07:35 (Portland Bill 2, St. Catherine's Point 4, Dungeness 45)
  • Whimbrel - 6 (Portland Bill 6, St. Catherine's Point 17, Selsey Bill 2, Dungeness 80)
  • Common Scoter - 11 (St. Catherine's Point 25, Selsey Bill 60, Dungeness 521)
  • Garganey - 1 female 07:50 (Dungeness 8)
  • Great Crested Grebe (St. Catherine's Point 0, Selsey Bill 3

The following were not recorded at Hurst but in numbers at other sites:

  • Brent Goose - 0 (St. Catherine's Point 18, Selsey Bill 28)
  • Arctic Skua - 0 (Portland Bill 4, St. Catherine's Point 5, Selsey Bill 1, Dungeness 15)
  • Great Skua - 0 (Portland Bill 2, St. Catherine's Point 3, Selsey Bill 2)

Again, like my similar analysis for my post of 10th April the results shown above are not directly comparable since, for example, Dungeness is likely to have received full coverage while the postings on the Portland Bird Observatory present a summary of the highlights only of the days seawatching. However, again it is evident that there is a general accumulation of birds as one progresses eastwards - Dungeness is untouchable as a result. It would appear that tern passage 'splits' around the Isle of Wight and then merge again off Selsey with some birds passing St. Catherine's Point while others fly along the Solent. Skua's on the other hand seem to avoid the Solent, at least in light winds, with numbers off Portland, St.Catherine's and Selsey remarkably consistent.

Sunrise from Hurst Spit