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Saturday, 30 December 2017

Goring/Ferring, 30th December 2017

I've been staying in over recent days, trying to keep a light cold from turning bad before the New Year and getting some writing work out the way while I'm at it. However, I took a break today and got some much-needed fresh air, showing Canons Farm colleague Paul G and his lovely pooch, Jazz, around the patch. The strong tide and rough sea forced a good number of waders into the roost field, including 83 Grey Plovers, 97 Sanderlings, 355 Dunlin and 53 Ringed Plovers. 52 Turnstones and 38 Oystercatchers were counted on the shore once the tide started to drop. Small gulls amassing in the field north of the pumping station included a decent 540 Common Gulls and seven Mediterranean Gulls (six adults and a second-winter), as well as 160 Black-headed Gulls. Visibility was atrocious so the sea wasn't given a huge amount of attention, producing a Red-throated Diver, seven Dark-bellied Brent Geese, eight Red-breasted Mergansers, a Great Crested Grebe, two Gannets and two Kittiwakes. A Stonechat and two Redwings were also noted.

Ferring Rife was quiet, with a Grey Heron, a Green Woodpecker, a Kestrel, 10 Moorhens and a Pheasant logged. I was dismayed to see at least three Sanderlings oiled (two particularly heavily), at least one Oystercatcher and one Turnstone also suffering.

one of two particularly badly oiled Sanderlings on the beach at Ferring
Redwings and Song Thrushes at Goring
Paul and Jazz arriving on the scene

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Canons Farm, 26th December 2017

A stroll around the farm, mostly with Paul G and Jazz, yielded two Great Black-backed Gulls and a Red Kite, 120 Fieldfares, 70 Redwings, six Yellowhammers, 30 Linnets, 12 Skylarks, a Rook, a Kestrel, two Buzzards and two Mallards.

♂ Kestrel

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Broxbourne Woods, 24th December 2017

I spent my Christmas Eve in the eclectic company of Kevin McM, Phil W and Magnus A at Broxbourne Woods - teaming up with David D-L on site. It was a pig of a dip, the three Parrot Crossbills being seen before and after our visit, and we gave it a good few hours. Notable sightings included two Ravens, three Siskins, a Grey Wagtail, a Sparrowhawk and two redpolls. A Red Kite was seen over Cheshunt on the way home...

Friday, 22 December 2017

Canons Farm, 22nd December 2017

Back at home for Christmas, I enjoyed a short walk around the Surrey patch with Linda M.  Highlights at the farm included two Little Owls, six Yellowhammers, four Meadow Pipits, three Rooks, 32 Skylarks and good number of Redwing and Fieldfare, with conservative totals of 300 and 100 respectively.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Goring/Ferring, 21st December 2017

A couple of pleasant wader surprises this morning with a Black-tailed Godwit on the shore and a flock of five westbound Golden Plovers. More regular species included a Redshank, 54 Oystercatchers, 23 Grey Plovers, 58 Ringed Plovers, 62 Turnstones, 26 Sanderlings and 390 Dunlin. The adult Kittiwake again joined four adult Mediterranean Gulls in the roost field but was starting to look weary. A couple of cursory looks offshore produced eight Teal, three Common Scoters, 16 Red-breasted Mergansers and 10 Great Crested Grebes. Other sightings included a male Blackcap, 19 Redwings, a Fieldfare, two Mistle Thrushes, the two wintering Stonechats, two Meadow Pipits, three Skylarks, a Moorhen, a Green Woodpecker and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. 35 Greenfinches included a flock of 27, the largest gathering I can remember seeing anywhere for a long time.

A hasty walk up and down Ferring Rife produced two Water Rails, a Little Egret, a Sparrowhawk, a Kestrel, a Pheasant, a Moorhen, a Green Woodpecker, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and three Redwings.

Black-tailed Godwit at Goring
adult Kittiwake at Goring
roosting Dunlin at Goring
adult Mediterranean Gull at Goring

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Goring/Ferring, 20th December 2017

Visibility was abysmal today, hampering any seawatching or low tide wader counts but the high tide roost field at Goring Gap featured unusual visits from an adult Kittiwake and a Snipe, along with five Mediterranean Gulls, 460 Dunlin, 24 Grey Plovers, 58 Ringed Plovers and seven Sanderlings. Other sightings there included the Treecreeper, a Mistle Thrush, the regular pair of Stonechats, three Skylarks, seven Redwings, a Green Woodpecker, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and small numbers of Oystercatchers and Turnstones. When the mist lifted a little, a brief scan of the sea revealed just a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers.

At Ferring Rife, sightings included a Kingfisher, three Water Rails, two Little Egrets, a Snipe, 60 Redwings, a Grey Wagtail, a Kestrel, a Sparrowhawk, two Grey Herons, two Mallards, 19 Moorhens, two Skylarks, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, two Green Woodpeckers, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers

adult Kittiwake and adult Mediterranean Gull at Goring
Snipe at Goring
Little Egret at Ferring Rife

Monday, 18 December 2017

Goring/Ferring and West Worthing, 18th December 2017

Starting the day with an hour long seawatch off Goring Gap, a Shelduck, four Wigeon, three Common Scoters, 10 Red-breasted Mergansers, 36 Red-throated Divers, eight Gannets and four Great Crested Grebes were noted offshore. Four Mediterranean Gulls were present. A Curlew flew east but other waders were not properly counted today, partly because the high tide roost had been pushed off by disturbance.

At Ferring Rife, four Water Rails were noted and other sightings included a Little Egret, two Grey Herons, 17 Moorhens, a Sparrowhawk, a Kestrel, 12 Redwings, a female Stonechat, a Mistle Thrush, a Green Woodpecker and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

At home in West Worthing, a Fieldfare was heard flying over the house in the darkness. I think this is the first time that I have recorded this species as a nocturnal migrant, not that I've been much effort into this!

Water Rail at Ferring Rife
Little Egret at Ferring Rife

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Goring, 17th December 2017

Today's highlights were an eastbound Snow Bunting over Goring Beach Huts, a Brambling exiting a garden on the west side of the Gap and a female Blackcap in the scrub in the north-west corner. Birds logged during an hour's seawatch included three Dark-bellied Brent Geese, a Shelduck, four Wigeon, nine Teal, 18 Red-breasted Mergansers, 15 Red-throated Divers, five Gannets, eight Great Crested Grebes, two Kittiwakes and a distant auk offshore.

Two Redshanks were feeding on the beach, along with a handful of Turnstones, Sanderlings and Oystercatchers but the tide did not allow meaningful counts of these species during today's visit. The high tide roost field, however, contained 410 Dunlin, 44 Grey Plovers, 43 Ringed Plovers and an adult Mediterranean Gull. Other sightings included seven Skylarks, six Fieldfares, 14 Redwings, two Mistle Thrushes, two separate Stonechats and 50 Goldfinches.

Redshank and Sanderling

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Goring/Ferring 16th December 2017

A full day out in the field saw me rack up 23,483 steps, helped along by my walking rather than cycling to and from the patch today. The sea was quiet and given little attention but did produce a Teal, a Wigeon, six Red-breasted Mergansers, seven Red-throated Divers, a Dark-bellied Brent Goose, seven Great Crested Grebes and a distant auk. Wader numbers comprised 169 Sanderlings, 307 Dunlin, 30 Grey Plovers, 42 Ringed Plovers, 90 Turnstones and 40 Oystercatchers. Some 230 Common Gulls were feeding along the shore towards the end of the day, as were three adult Mediterranean Gulls and a Lesser Black-backed Gull. The pair of Stonechats were still on the east side of the Gap and another male was further west. Other Goring sightings included a Mistle Thrush, a Redwing, five Skylarks, two Meadow Pipits, the Treecreeper, a Sparrowhawk and two Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

At Ferring Rife were two Little Egrets, a Water Rail, a Redwing, two Green Woodpeckers, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Grey Heron, two Moorhens and a Sparrowhawk.

Little Egret at Ferring Rife
Grey Heron at Ferring Rife
Stock Dove at Goring
♂ Stonechat at Goring
Sparrowhawk at Goring
Treecreeper at Goring

Friday, 15 December 2017

Goring/Ferring, 15th December 2017

During a 1.5-hour seawatch, a Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 34 Red-throated Divers, 59 Gannets, three Kittiwakes, two Great Crested Grebes, three Guillemots and 19 distant auks flew past the Gap. Meanwhile, 15 Red-breasted Mergansers were offshore. Sanderlings rose further to 170, while 353 Dunlin, 48 Ringed Plovers, 50 Grey Plovers, 48 Turnstones and six Oystercatchers were also counted. A 1cy Red Kite and a Mistle Thrush were patch ticks. Three adult Mediterranean Gulls were in the area, along with a Sparrowhawk, a Green Woodpecker, two Skylarks, a Song Thrush and 30 Goldfinches.

A swift visit to Ferring Rife produced a Grey Heron, a Kestrel, a Sparrowhawk, three Redwings, two Song Thrushes, two Green Woodpeckers and a Linnet.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Goring/Ferring, 14th December 2017

It was great fun counting the waders today, with strong totals of 159 Sanderlings, 129 Turnstones and 355 Dunlin, along with a Redshank, 53 Grey Plovers, 50 Ringed Plovers and 52 Oystercatchers. Six Mediterranean Gulls in the area were all adults but for a second-winter and 77 Common Gulls were along the shore. Highlights at sea included a Common Scoter, a Teal, 41 Gannets, 46 Kittiwakes, seven Red-throated Divers, 20 Red-breasted Mergansers, four Great Crested Grebes, five Guillemots and a further 27 distant auks in the haze zone. I heard the Treecreeper in the Plantation.

For some reason it had taken me until this morning to venture over the Ferring Rife and I was much impressed by the potential of the habitat there, which will surely be bustling with life come the spring, or perhaps even during a cold snap this winter. Sightings there today included a Snipe, a Water Rail, a Grey Wagtail, three Redwings, three Pheasants, a Grey Heron, a Sparrowhawk, a Green Woodpecker, three Song Thrushes and a Moorhen.

Sanderlings (and Grey Plover) at Goring
2nd-winter Mediterranean Gull with Black-headed and Herring Gulls at Goring

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Lee Valley, 11-12th December 2017

A dusk survey at the North Metropolitan Pit provided a fly-over Golden Plover, a Goosander, a male Blackcap, two Siskins, 32 Skylarks, a pair of Goldeneye and 18 Shovelers of note, as well as small numbers of Fieldfares and Redwings. A Muntjac provided additional interest.

The following morning saw a gloamy fly-by from a Bittern, as well as three Goosanders, the drake Goldeneye, the male Blackcap, four Siskins, a redpoll, a Reed Bunting, a Chiffchaff, a Fieldfare and the odd Redwing. 65 Tufted Ducks were counted, along with 33 Shovelers and three Gadwall.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Beddington Farmlands, 10th December 2017

Staying in Surrey between leading the Saturday walk at Canons and a survey job in north London, I teamed up with Christian C for a vigil from the hide in the horrendous weather. It eventually cleared up and we managed a short wander but the conditions beat us in the end! However, we did relocate the Twite on the northwest side of the landfill site with 60 Linnets, although it evaded any attempts at improving my photographic record of it. Counting the ducks was a satisfying exercise, with 35 Pochards, 62 Shovelers, 57 Teal, 26 Gadwall and 13 Tufted Ducks on the lakes. A Shelduck added a bit of 'value' - a fairly unusual sighting this early in the winter, and six Reed Buntings and two Meadow Pipits were along the side of the lake. Nine Snipe also flew from the margins, needing very little inadvertent prompting to flush.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Canons Farm and Banstead Woods, 9th December 2017

It was a lovely sunny day to lead the CFBWBG Winter Tour with Paul G this morning. The highlight was a low Red Kite over Broadfield while other included a Meadow Pipit, two Yellowhammers, 23 Fieldfares, 21 Redwings, 49 Skylarks and five Rooks.

Red Kite
Buzzard

Friday, 8 December 2017

Goring, 8th December 2017

Rather fewer birds at sea and on the shore this morning but quality came in the form of an adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose heading west and a repeat appearance from the Red-necked Grebe, which also flew by that way, as did two Mute Swans. Otherwise, 15 Gannets, a Red-throated Diver, 12 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 23 Red-breasted Mergansers and a Guillemot were seen over the waves. Some waders were in strangley short supply, the roll-call involving 355 Dunlin, a Redshank, a Curlew, 39 Oystercatchers and 25 Ringed Plovers, but just five Sanderlings, six Grey Plovers and four Turnstones. Three Mediterranean Gulls, 43 Common Gulls and 15 Great Black-backed Gulls were noted, and other bits included a Chiffchaff, a Redwing, the Treecreeper, a Coal Tit, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Green Woodpecker, the male Stonechat, a Linnet and seven Greenfinches.

adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose
Mute Swans
Ringed Plover

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Goring, 6th December 2017

Another cycle to the Goring patch this morning, hearing a Chiffchaff calling in gardens along Grand Avenue (Worthing) on the way. Intermittent scanning of the sea, joined for a while by Nick B and Gareth J, produced 32 Red-throated Divers, 42 Red-breasted Mergansers, eight Dark-bellied Brent Geese, three Common Scoters, seven Kittiwakes, four Razorbills, four Guillemots, a further 21 distant auks and 30 Great Crested Grebes. Waders were represented by 467 Dunlin, three Redshanks, 59 Ringed Plovers, 53 Grey Plovers, 28 Sanderlings, 21 Oystercatchers and 54 Turnstones, while two Little Egrets and a Grey Heron were also feeding along the shore. Gulls included seven Mediterranean, 34 Common and 15 Great Black-backed. A Chiffchaff, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Coal Tit were also seen.

Grey Plovers and Dunlin
Dark-bellied Brent Geese
Mediterranean, Common and Black-headed Gulls
Oystercatchers

Monday, 4 December 2017

Goring, 4th December 2017

I scanned the sea and shore from the west side of Goring Gap this morning, picking up the Red-necked Grebe again on the sea before it flew east, as well as an eastbound Great Skua. Joined towards the end of the watch by Nick B and Clive H, logged by the time I left at 10:00 were 69 Red-throated Divers, 56 Red-breasted Mergansers, four Common Scoters, 44 Great Crested Grebes, three Gannets, nine Dark-bellied Brent Geese, a Teal, five Kittiwakes, two Shelducks, seven Razorbills, five Guillemots and a further 38 extremely distant auks. A juvenile Peregrine flew west offshore and one of the wintering Chiffchaffs remained at the start of Patterson's Walk. In between shopping trips I stopped off at high tide to count the wader roost which comprised 410 Dunlin, 66 Grey Plovers and 50 Ringed Plovers, along with two adult Mediterranean Gulls. Small numbers of Turnstones, Sanderlings and Oystercatchers had been along the beach earlier in the morning but the state of the tide did not allow meaningful counts of these species.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Goring, 3rd December 2017

Just time for a half-hour evening scan from the east side of Goring, featuring a Red-throated Diver, 88 Great Crested Grebes and 35 Red-breasted Mergansers on the sea, plus three Gannets past. An adult Mediterranean Gull, a Little Egret and eight Oystercatchers were along the shore.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Goring, 2nd December 2017

The sea was surprisingly busy this morning with birds feeding and moving offshore. Perhaps the least expected sighting was of a distant Avocet heading west, although I was amazed to get both Red-necked Grebe and Black-throated Diver again. Both are perhaps quite likely to be the same birds first seen on 15th November, lingering in the area; the grebe headed west and the diver was feeding distantly offshore before heading east later in the morning. A Great Northern Diver bulldozed its way west and at least 97 Red-throated Divers went through during the morning, a handful of which pitched down.

Also offshore was a drake Velvet Scoter among 49 Common Scoters, 60 Red-breasted Mergansers, 27 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 90 Great Crested Grebes, 49 Wigeon, 17 Teal, 37 Shelducks, 17 Kittiwakes, 21 Razorbills, eight Guillemots, a Gannet, 40 Great Black-backed Gulls and three Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

On the wader roll call were 78 Sanderlings, 255 Dunlin, 38 Grey Plovers, 34 Ringed Plovers, 46 Oystercatchers, a Redshank and 88 Turnstones. Four adult Mediterranean Gulls were in the area. Passerines included a Chiffchaff, a Redwing, the male Stonechat, a Meadow Pipit, three Skylarks, two Song Thrushes, four Goldcrests, 14 Pied Wagtails, nine Chaffinches and eight Greenfinches.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Goring, 30th November 2017

A hasty afternoon count of the low-tide waders at Goring revealed three Redshanks, 61 Sanderlings, 31 Grey Plovers, 15 Ringed Plovers, 80 Dunlin, 50 Oystercatchers and 48 Turnstones, as well as a Little Egret. A Kittiwake flew west.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Staines Reservoir, 29th November 2017

It was bloody gutting to dip the American Horned Lark for the second time (although the first time I was twitching it as a Shorelark for a London tick). A flock of five Pintail was the best thing on offer but it was nice to catch up with Mike S, Surrey expat now residing in Cornwall, and Robin S.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Norfolk, 27-28th November 2017

A fun couple of days away with Mag and Christian started productively with two Parrot Crossbills at Santon Warren, an adult Black Brant at Cley and four Lapland Buntings at Weybourne our haul on the first day. Cley also provided a first-winter Caspian Gull, a Great Skua and a few Golden Plovers, while Brents numbered around 500. The Tuesday didn't go quite so smoothly, much time being wasted looking in vain for a Shorelark at Holme, but we did get a few Snow Buntings there and a nice flock of 20 Twite at Thornham Harbour and a seawatch at Sheringham produced a couple of Great Skuas and a few Red-throated Divers.

♂ Parrot Crossbill at Santon Warren
adult Black Brant at Cley - my first of this taxa; interesting bird with an incomplete collar (and I think I'm looking too hard for grey tones on the upperparts?)
first-winter Caspian Gull at Cley


Twite at Thornham Harbour

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Goring, 25th November 2017

It was a glorious morning but quite a rushed visit as I had to head back late morning to Surrey for a few days. Feeding on the low tide was a Redshank, a Curlew, a Little Egret, 43 Ringed Plovers, 29 Grey Plovers, 91 Dunlin, 27 Turnstones, 11 Sanderlings and 39 Oystercatchers. The sea was quiet but three Wigeon and three Gadwall headed west together, as did 19 very distant auks in the haze, two Gannets and a Red-throated Diver. An adult Mediterranean Gull floated around, three Skylarks were in the fields and the woods held the Treecreeper, a Coal Tit, two Green Woodpeckers, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, two Stock Doves and six Goldcrests.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Goring, 24th November 2017

Cycling to the patch this morning, it was a relatively quieter session and I am beginning to realise the regular frustration that I am bound to experience at the sheer level of disturbance burdoned upon this precious relic of green space. The waders feeding on the low tide must contend with endless dog-walkers and it seems that operators of both model aircraft and drones either feel their machines take priority over these birds seeking vital refuge in the fields at high tide or, more likely, play with their toys in ignorance. It truly seems that the only spaces not already razed by humans and free from their blundering indifference to nature are indeed nature reserves.

At low tide, I counted 29 Grey Plovers, 33 Ringed Plovers, 67 Turnstones, four Sanderlings and 27 Oystercatchers foraging, as well as a Little Egret. I postponed counting Dunlin till high tide but this was probably a mistake as only 93 appeared and very few other waders braved the roost site. Gulls included five Mediterranean, 110 Common and 35 Great Black-backed. Little was moving over or feeding on the calm sea, with seven Common Scoters, a Red-throated Diver, 10 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Razorbill, 13 Great Crested Grebes and 22 Cormorants noted.

A Treecreeper, a Fieldfare, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Green Woodpecker and a Stock Dove provided patch ticks, the two Stonechats lingered and other bits included a Chiffchaff, seven Skylarks, three Meadow Pipits, 13 Goldcrests, two Linnets, three Song Thrushes, nine Jays, 25 Blackbirds and 11 Pied Wagtails.

Dunlin
Treecreeper
♀ Stonechat

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Beddington Farmlands, 22nd November 2017

This morning's walk around Beddington with Magnus A turned into a bit of an epic when we simultaneously clocked a colour-ringed Twite among a flock of 30 Linnets by the landfill site!!! The first Surrey record since 2004 and with the only previous Beddington record being in 1991, this is a local blocker and several of Beddington's finest were with us and connecting with the bird in no time! From the combination, Jamie Dunning was able to tell us that the bird was ringed as a juvenile in Derbyshire in 2016 and spent the following winter at the more typical location of Titchwell RSPB in Norfolk.

Other highlights over the morning included our old friend Caspian Gull X319, now in second-winter plumage, as well as a second-winter Yellow-legged Gull, Water Pipit, two Tree Sparrows, Water Rail, Chiffchaff, Little Egret, 40 Great Black-backed Gulls, five Reed Buntings, 29 Lapwings, 146 Teal, 30 Gadwall, 74 Shovelers, a handful of Snipe, three Skylarks, two redpolls, two Redwings and nine Meadow Pipits.

Surrey's first Twite since 2004
2nd-winter Caspian Gull
2nd-winter Yellow-legged Gull
Tree Sparrow by Mag

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Goring, 21st November 2017

Back in Sussex, I headed out to Goring for the morning where I saw the beach at low tide for first time. I hadn't realised the extent of the potential feeding area on offer for waders here at low tide and scanning along the beach revealed new patch species for me in the form of a Knot and a couple of Redshanks. Apparently Knot isn't particularly common here. While Sanderling and Ringed Plover numbered remained low, at 23 and eight respectively, other species provided reasonable totals: 69 Grey Plovers roosted along with 203 Dunlin and feeding along the shore were 90 Turnstones and 57 Oystercatchers.

A Kingfisher calling along the beach was soon spotted surveying its hunting ground from one of the groynes. I counted 11 Mediterranean Gulls and other bits included four Dark-bellied Brent Geese, a Common Scoter, a Guillemot and the low totals of 14 Red-breasted Mergansers and three Great Crested Grebes. Three Kittiwakes and 28 Gannets moved west. The two Stonechats were still in the rough field and a Chiffchaff was in the woods on the east side while the fields held six Skylarks and 15 Pied Wagtails. Seven Goldcrests were dotted about and a Rook flew over.

Part of today's high tide roost
Kingfisher
the Knot roosting later in the morning
the beach at Goring Gap at low tide
Grey Plovers
adult Mediterranean Gull
Turnstone
Common Gulls, with Mediterranean and Black-headed thrown in