Sunday, 26 August 2018


Trying to make the most of the morning before the forecast rain set in, I started with a slightly rushed scan of the beach before heading to check the bushes. Feeding there were 22 Little Egrets, 11 Oystercatchers and two Dunlin, along with a small number of Ringed Plovers and Turnstones - though counts of these latter two species were exceeded in the roost field later on with 60 and 18, respectively. Four Yellow Wagtails and a Pied Wagtail flew over early on. The pumphouse held an elusive female Redstart - a patch tick, as well as a Willow Warbler, with two more of these in the northwest corner. Walking along Ilex Avenue, I was surprised to hear a Firecrest singing in the holm oaks, the first of the autumn, and a Tree Pipit buzzed overhead. I could only muster up three Whitethroats to further the migrant tally, though heard the Treecreeper in the Plantation.

The roost field looked fairly busy from a distance so I headed over to check it out, though the weather was beginning to close in. Seven Lesser Black-backed Gulls was a good sign (three of these had flown west over land) as this generally scarce gull on the patch is a good indicator of larid movement. I quickly picked out a nice 1CY Yellow-legged Gull, well into scapular moult. My eye was then drawn to another interesting 1CY which rang cachinnans alarm bells straight away, despite lying down with its head tucked into its back. Everything I could see looked good and I couldn't see it turning out to be anything else, but I waited for it to stand or at least raise its head in case anything was awry. Soon enough it was spooked into action and revealed itself to be a splendid, classic juvenile Caspian Gull beginning moult into first-winter. A very rare bird in West Sussex but my second at Goring this year, it stuck around long enough to be twitched by a couple of folk. The first juvenile Great Black-backed Gull of the year shared the same field, along with 22 Sandwich Terns - the first time I've seen this species use the field in any number. Three Common Gulls were around.

1CY Caspian Gull

1CY Caspian Gull

1CY Yellow-legged Gull

I was keen to get a seawatch in and gave it half an hour from the George V Avenue shelter before admitting that few birds would be moving in the conditions and it wasn't particularly comfortable having rain constantly blown right into my scope and face. In this half-hour, two Fulmars and two Grey Plovers flew west, along with three Sandwich Terns.