The weather over the latter part of 2018 and in to the beginning of 2019 was dominated by a high-pressure system over the country, producing very still and calm conditions. The wintering birds arrived as expected and these continued to increase over the month with the January wetland bird counts producing excellent numbers of duck with 3000+ Brent Geese, 2000+ Wigeon and 346 Pintail. As one year moved in to the next most of the birds remained for those starting their new year list although some remained as elusive as ever. The Hooded Crow at Medmerry since the summer put in some appearance early in to the New Year but then disappeared for over three weeks, thinking it had gone most people stopped looking for it, but it suddenly reappeared but not at Medmerry but over at the north wall, Pagham. the Black Redstart which was seen regularly at Toe End continued to give observers the run around but if patient then a brief view was always possible. Marsh Harriers were more accommodating with a minimum of three birds reported almost daily form around the two sites.
However, the drab, settled weather was soon to break and this heralded some excellent numbers of seabirds passing along the coast. The main movements were of Gannets and Auks (mainly Razorbills) with numbers reaching in to the 1000’s on some days. The variety of seabirds was astonishing for the time of year and if you could survive the bitterly cold wind then you were rewarded with array of species in good numbers. Fulmar, Slavonian Grebe, Kittiwake, Red-Throated and Great Northern Divers, Common and Velvet Scoters as well as the odd Great Skua if you are lucky. For the few fortunate observers the new year produced rare sighting of a Black-Throated Diver in the harbour.
Great Northern Diver
Red Throated Diver
The influx of Cattle Egret in December was extraordinary with a record 26 using the fields in the first few days of the New Year but with the change of weather many of these departed. The reports continued through the month with the odd individual present but much more elusive.
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