Saturday, 14 July 2018

Goring and Norfolk Bridge, Sheffield

Astounding news came through last night of an Audouin's Gull in the middle of Sheffield. I half-thought about what to do about it then somehow completely forgot the matter and continued with my routine, getting up early this morning for my vigil at Goring Gap. At the patch, singles of Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail flew over, along with two Swifts, and other birds included four Little Egrets, a Grey Heron, a Sandwich Tern, two adult Mediterranean Gulls and three Oystercatchers. A quick look at my phone revealed the Audouin's Gull was again present early knockings and I panicked, cycling back home to get in the car. By about half way up to Sheffield, I'd decided the whole thing was a stupid idea and this marine gull was bound to have moved on in search of more suitable habitat. However, having made a good chunk of the journey I stuck it out and arrived in Sheffield late morning. I gave it about four hours (not wishing to potentially wait another five on the off-chance it would reappear in the evening), only made bearable by meeting up with the lovely Paul W and junior, who kindly showed me a juvenile Dipper that was feeding a little up the way from the bridge. A rather appropriate species to be seeing today...! Aside from this treat, the only 'notable' entries in my notebook were 10 Sand Martins and a Grey Wagtail.

juvenile Dipper at Norfolk Bridge

Friday, 13 July 2018


Even at this time of year, every day is different and migration is definitely starting. Today's highlights were the dramatic sight of an adult Hobby bolting in to seize a House Sparrow from the rough field, and a calling Treecreeper at the very seaward end of the Plantation which I eventually tracked down to photograph. 10 Mediterranean Gulls included two juveniles, while two Common Gulls were an adult and a 2CY. Three Teal, two Grey Herons and 13 Little Egrets were on the beach. Waders comprised three of both Whimbrel and Oystercatcher, as well as singles of Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Redshank. Two Lesser Black-backed Gulls tracked east over land and just four Gannets and seven Sandwich Terns were offshore (the sea was still very dead!). Nine Swallows and three Swifts flew through.

Treecreeper just inches from the shingle beach!

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Goring, Pagham Harbour and West Worthing

Mag joined me for a short watch at Goring Gap this morning. Conditions weren't great and it was soon evident that little was moving, but three season-firsts involved a Shoveler on the beach with a Teal, and a Dunlin. Other sightings included a Whimbrel, seven Little Egrets, three juvenile Grey Herons, five eastbound Swifts, three adult Mediterranean Gulls, five Oystercatchers, an adult Common Gull, two Pied Wagtails and five Sandwich Terns.

Shoveler (left) and Teal at Goring Gap

Cutting our losses, we headed to Pagham Harbour. Starting at Church Norton, we spotted the exceptional summer flock of seven Pale-bellied Brent Geese that has been on site for a while now, along with a lone Dark-bellied Brent Goose. Waders included a Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit, seven Dunlin, 24 Turnstones and four Black-tailed Godwits. Dozens of Sandwich Terns and Little Terns were busy in the harbour, along with a much smaller number of Common Terns, and the odd Mediterranean Gull called or sailed by. Eight Teal and six Little Egrets were present. 40 Swallows, three Sand Martins and a House Martin were feeding. Moving around to the Ferry Pool, we added a Common Sandpiper, four Avocets, eight Lapwings and a further four Black-tailed Godwits. Two Little Ringed Plovers were - amazingly - the first I've seen this year!

In the evening, I popped around the corner from home to post some mail and managed a pretty accurate count of around 40 Swifts swirling over my road at 21:00.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018


The clear highlight of the morning was a Crossbill - although I somehow managed to not clap eyes on it, the bird was calling clearly as it headed west over the seaward Plantation. Most of the 29 Mediterranean Gulls - which included 10 juveniles - were actively moving, as were a few Black-headed Gulls. A Ringed Plover heard calling along the beach was my first in a while and singles of Curlew and Oystercatcher represented the rest of the waders noted. Offshore, 38 Sandwich Terns mostly moved east, as did three Common Terns. Eight Gannets flew past and three Little Egrets were along the shore. Other birds noted included a Sparrowhawk, 15 Swifts and a Pied Wagtail.

migrating Mediterranean Gulls

Monday, 9 July 2018

Goring and Thursley Common

A Whimbrel, an Arctic Skua and a Shelduck were season-firsts at Goring Gap this morning. A juvenile Yellow-legged Gull flew northwest over the fields and 18 Mediterranean Gulls included seven juveniles. Some were moving purposefully, including a flock incorporating two adults and six juveniles. Two adult Common Gulls and three juvenile Pied Wagtails were seen. Other birds noted included 14 Swifts, seven Gannets, four Swallows east, two Sandwich Terns and three Oystercatchers.

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull over Goring Gap
Herring Gull family at Goring Gap

In the late afternoon, as I was in the area, I called in at Thursley Common. Thanks to a bloke along the boardwalk for giving me directions, and thanks to another bloke just leaving the Belted Galloway enclosure, I knew I was looking in the right place. Sure enough, after about 15 minutes, the splendid male Red-backed Shrike materialised on the perch that bloke 2 had described it as frequenting. It showed very nicely indeed for half an hour or so, sitting calmly and making occasional brief sallies to catch a large insect before returning to its vigil. Other highlights included a Crossbill, a Siskin, a family of Stonechats, Willow Warbler, Meadow Pipit and a Teal.

male Red-backed Shrike at Thursley Common

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Goring and West Worthing

While vismigging/seawatching at the Gap, I spotted an adult Cuckoo land in the bushes by the pumping station. After enjoying rather distant views of this patch tick in the scope for a few minutes, with the bird seeming settled I quickly cycled over there to try for some photos. When I got to the spot, the bird alighted just 15 feet in front of me, giving amazing views but too fast for the camera before it spooked and headed strongly east! A juvenile Yellow-legged Gull flew west and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was notable. 17 Mediterranean Gulls included some heading purposefully west/northwest (including six juveniles). Indeed, even Herring Gulls seemed to be moving, with a few small groups set for a northeast bearing.

adult male Cuckoo at Goring Gap

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull at Goring Gap

Passerines featured more strongly, with the first Meadow Pipit and three Sand Martins of the autumn noted, along with 64 Swallows which mainly moved east along the beach. Swift movement was limited but evident, with 14 east and eight west. A Common Tern flew east offshore and other sightings included 29 Gannets, three Little Egrets, a Curlew, four Oystercatchers, two Sandwich Terns and a Pied Wagtail.

Back home in West Worthing, I counted 28 Swifts screaming and chasing in a tight bunch overhead, and there were two Herring Gull chicks on next door's roof, looking about three weeks old.

Friday, 6 July 2018


Three Barnacle Geese heading west was the most random sighting of the morning and a tidy patch tick. Three Mediterranean Gulls, including two fine juveniles, were milling around and later on a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull - my first of the year - was floating just offshore before it flew east. Walking home along the seafront, my pulse raced slightly when I spotted four more large juvenile gulls on distant mud but they all quickly resolved to be Herring Gulls. So much for the early July grace period for YLGs... Other highlights from the morning included six Common Scoters, a/the Peregrine, two Swallows, two Pied Wagtails overhead, a 2CY Common Gull, a Gannet, five Little Egrets, an Oystercatcher, a Curlew, two Sandwich Terns, a Coal Tit, Goldcrest and three Whitethroats.

Barnacle Geese

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull

juvenile Mediterranean Gull

Little Egrets

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Goring and Ferring Rife

Starting the day early at Goring Gap was a bit of a waste of time due to reasonably heavy mist but a flock of 30 Common Scoters flew past east offshore and other bits noted included a Redshank, two Sandwich Terns and three Swifts. Among the birds noted during a brief visit to Ferring Rife was a Pheasant, a Little Egret, a Grey Heron, a Green Woodpecker, a Swallow, two Jays, a Whitethroat and a couple of Blackcaps.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018


Watching from the coastal path at the Gap feels promising for autumn vismig, and I can't wait for some proper movement, but today was decent for early July with a Grey Wagtail east, along with 129 Swifts (plus four which went the other way) and a Swallow. A Lapwing and a Pied Wagtail moved west. Offshore was a Razorbill, 12 Common Scoters, 28 Gannets, 15 Mediterranean Gulls and five Sandwich Terns. The beach held a Curlew, a juvenile Redshank and two Little Egrets of note. The adult Common Gull was still on the green.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Goring and West Worthing

An enjoyable session this morning, getting to the Gap early to avoid the crowds. A total of 108 Swifts included 90 eastbound birds and a Swallow moved in the same direction. Among eight Mediterranean Gulls on the beach first thing was a juvenile and an adult bearing a green darvic ring; another eight moved east offshore. Also part of the gull exodus was a smart adult Common Gull. A 2CY Peregrine - probably the one that flew over my garden yesterday - passed overhead. A Bonxie plonked itself on the sea. Six Common Scoters and a Curlew moved east, while seven Little Egrets (at least one juvenile) and two Oystercatchers were on the beach. 16 Gannets and five Sandwich Terns were offshore. Five of the 70 Black-headed Gulls were juveniles - my first fledged of the year. Later, a juvenile Red Kite drifted north over the fields and I encountered two Painted Ladies.

Mediterranean Gulls on the beach at Goring Gap, including the first juvenile of the year (centre)

juvenile Red Kite over Goring Gap

adult Common Gull at Goring Gap

From my West Worthing garden in the afternoon I watched three juvenile Goldfinches begging an adult for food.