Sunday, 30 September 2018

West Worthing

Vismig from the garden produced 16 Siskins, 42 Meadow Pipits, two Grey Wagtails, 20 Swallows, four Rooks (a garden tick) and a Pied Wagtail. Around the garden was a Goldcrest, a Coal Tit, a Chiffchaff and a Jay.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Spurn area and Donisthorpe/Oakthorpe

A fairly lively seawatch at Spurn featured an in-off Short-eared Owl, six Sooty Shearwaters, five Manx Shearwaters, five Bonxies, two Arctic Skuas, a good few Guillemots and Razorbills, a couple of Kittiwakes, two Arctic Terns and many Red-throated Divers and Gannets.

On the way home, we broke up the journey by stopping off at the nature trail between Donisthorpe and Oakthorpe, getting brief views of the Glossy Ibis there before it flew off. Also there were five Teal and the nearby fields had a few Red-legged Partridges.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Spurn area

Highlights of our second day - which was still hard work (for Spurn) - included a Manx Shearwater, an Arctic Skua, three Greenshanks, six Pintails, Common Scoter, Shag, three Yellow Wagtails, five migrant Yellowhammers, an Arctic Tern, a Buzzard, Siskins, Rock Pipits, a few moving Meadow Pipits and Linnets, several Red-throated Divers, a Spotted Redshank and a dusk Barn Owl.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Spurn area

Mag, Simon and I arrived at the obs at lunchtime to meet up with Christian. It was deathly quiet but we persisted in birding, enjoying the local Tree Sparrows if nothing else. A Marsh Harrier quartered near Sammy's Point, where a Rock Pipit called, a Whimbrel was along the edge of the Humber and a few Snipe flushed. The usual other waders were about, including flocks of Golden Plovers. A seawatch produced three Little Gulls, Shag and a trickle of Red-throated Divers, Sandwich Terns and Common Terns. Good numbers of Kestrels were around.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Goring Gap and Gravesend

A morning visit to Goring Gap was rather enjoyable, with vismig being the order of the day, with hirundines swamping all others out in terms of volume. It was impossible to keep an accurate count on the numbers of House Martins and Swallows but I estimated a minimum of 4,500 and 850 respectively. Other bits moving overhead included 28 Siskins, 128 Meadow Pipits, four Linnets, 23 Pied Wagtails, four Yellow Wagtails, five Grey Wagtails and four Sand Martins. 15 Skylarks included a few going east. A Snipe heard flying overhead was notable and also moving were three Gannets and a Lesser Black-backed Gull. A Whinchat kept company with three Stonechats around the rough field, while 13 Chiffchaffs were scattered about. An adult Common Tern on the beach was unusual, while three Shelducks, three Little Egrets, 11 Oystercatchers and a few Sanderlings, Dunlin and Turnstones were also there. Four Sandwich Terns blogged about, a Curlew was heard and nine Mediterranean Gulls and two Common Gulls were also noted. Two Buzzards included a loitering bird which caught the attention of the local corvids.

Liam kindly called me to alert me to the astonishing news of a Beluga Whale on the River Thames at Gravesend. Due to stop off in Sutton in the evening anyway - ahead of my trip to Spurn - I picked up Josh, Francis and Ivy to head over to the river to look for this most bizarre of lost waifs. Joining the assembled crowds, it wasn't long before we caught site of the Beluga breaching! We enjoyed occasional views for a couple of hours before heading off delighted. Birds noted included two Arctic Terns - plus several 'Commics' that I couldn't get my scope on, eight Black-tailed Godwits, six House Martins and 18 Linnets.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Brooklands Pleasure Park, Goring Gap, Adur Estuary and Widewater Lagoon

The weather was horrendous but with loads of displaced Grey Phalaropes reported around southern Britain recently I thought the lake at Brooklands Pleasure Park was surely worth a check. There were no phalaropes to be seen but I did note three Sand Martins, a Swallow, 90 House Martins, a Little Grebe, a Grey Wagtail and four Teal. Two Kingfishers in chase were the highlight though. Once the rain eased off I took myself to Goring Gap, where a short vigil around midday produced five Wheatears, 43 Meadow Pipits, 524 House Martins, a Chiffchaff, two Swallows, three Sandwich Terns, a Gannet, two Common Gulls, a Goldcrest and a Skylark.

En route to picking Ingrid up in Brighton, I paid the Adur Estuary another brief visit. There wasn't as much around as the other day but I did note a Little Egret, five Oystercatchers, two Lapwings, 25 Ringed Plovers, seven Dunlin, eight House Martins, a Kestrel and a Meadow Pipit among others. Calling in at Widewater Lagoon, another new site for me, I noted 16 House Martins, two Little Egrets, five Little Grebes and three Meadow Pipits.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Adur Estuary and The Burgh

I've driven past the Adur Estuary probably hundreds of times now but it was only early this afternoon that I paid it a visit, my curiosity piqued by recent reports. I soon located the juvenile Curlew Sandpiper which had been found by locals in recent days - my first in Britain this year! - and a nice supporting cast of waders included two Greenshanks, a Whimbrel, a Common Sandpiper, 19 Ringed Plovers and 12 Dunlin. A Rock Pipit flew over.

juvenile Curlew Sandpiper on the Adur Estuary

I then headed to The Burgh but it was hella windy, as it always seems to be when I go there, and I couldn't muster the enthusiasm to stay for very long, though my short visit did produce a Hobby, two Ravens, a Sparrowhawk, several Kestrels and a couple of Red Kites, plus a few House Martins and Swallows moving through.

Thursday, 20 September 2018


An abysmal seawatch from George V Avenue produced just three Gannets. A Little Egret was on the beach.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Stithians Reservoir, Devoran and Porthgwarra

Getting some work done in the morning, we then headed out to Stithians Reservoir, where we had to shelter behind some trees to view out of the wind. A few more waders were present than on the last visit (though nothing scarce/rare). These included a Green Sandpiper, a Common Sandpiper, three Greenshanks, two Ruff, 21 Dunlin, six Ringed Plovers and 26 Curlews. At least a couple of White Wagtails were among a few Pied/Whites and 20 Meadow Pipits.

Twitching Devoran again for the juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs, we were successful this time and I enjoyed nice views of my third example of this species in Britain. Also present was a Whimbrel and a Bar-tailed Godwit, along with the Spotted Redshank, 85 Curlews, five Dunlin, 27 Black-tailed Godwits, five Mediterranean Gulls, a Sandwich Tern, a Grey Wagtail and 44 Teal.

My visit concluded with a late afternoon seawatch from the cove at Porthgwarra, the highlight of which was picking out a Grey Phalarope as it tracked west. A Black Tern went the same way, along with 30 Balearic Shearwaters, four Bonxies and two Sooty Shearwaters.

juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Porthgwarra, Pendeen and Devoran

Among about 30 observers gathered at Porthgwarra first thing were myself and Liam, along a few other familiar faces. Anticipation was high but after an hour or so it couldn't be denied as a damp squib. An adult Roseate Tern picked out by Liam was by far the bird of the day, while a juvenile Little Gull was also a highlight. Other bits included four Great Shearwaters, five Balearic Shearwaters, 14 Sooty Shearwaters, a Common Scoter, reasonable numbers of Kittiwakes and Sandwich Terns, a flow of Manx Shearwaters, an Arctic Skua, eight Bonxies, an Arctic Tern, a Common Tern, a Raven and a Grey Wagtail.

Mid-afternoon news from Pendeen - and more-or-less straight westerlies - had us heading straight there but we had only four Balearic Shearwaters of note before getting fed up and heading to Devoran to twitch a Lesser Yellowlegs. We dipped. However, nice views of an Osprey were had, along with a Spotted Redshank, 10 Black-tailed Godwits and a Kingfisher heard...

Monday, 17 September 2018

Marazion, Hayle Estuary, Porthgwarra and Stithians Reservoir

An aspiration to find a rare wader or two was much of the motivation for the Cornish trip, and as such we started at Marazion beach shortly after dawn. Visibility was terrible but we marched up and down a decent stretch of the beach, though we only found four Sanderlings, 10 Ringed Plovers, 14 Turnstones, 11 Mediterranean Gulls, a Dunlin, a Rock Pipit and an Oystercatcher for our efforts.

Hayle Estuary was next up. A Water Rail showed for a long time right out in the open. The five juvenile Knot were still present, while an adult Spotted Redshank, two juvenile Ruff, a Common Sandpiper and 85 Dunlin were the most notable among the other waders. Teal numbered 140, a Rock Pipit flew over and a few Mediterranean Gulls were around.

Water Rail at Hayle Estuary

Ruff and Knot at Hayle Estuary

A seawatch at Porthgwarra for just over three hours around midday was worthwhile, not least for the 43 Great Shearwaters seen, almost all of which were in a spectacular single flock! I also noted 31 Balearic Shearwaters, eight Sooty Shearwaters, three Arctic Skuas, two Bonxies and 10 Common Scoters. The usual Gannets, Shags, Fulmars, Manx Shearwaters, Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills and Rock Pipits featured, as they did on each visit.

I enjoyed a visit to Stithians Reservoir later, although it was a bit gusty to view comfortably. A 1CY White Wagtail, Greenshank, 30 Curlews, 12 Dunlin and four Ringed Plovers were the highlights.

1CY White Wagtail at Stithians Reservoir

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Hayle Estuary and Porthgwarra

With the weather looking promising for Cornwall and a few days with no real commitments, I seized the chance to head down to Falmouth to stay at Liam's new flat for a couple of nights. Arriving mid-afternoon, we headed first to the Hayle Estuary, enjoying five Knot and a Ruff - all juveniles - as well as a Kingfisher. A few Teal and Wigeon (the latter numbered 55)  were among the other birds logged. With some daylight to spare we thought it was worth a short evening seawatch off Porthgwarra, scoring 18 Balearic Shearwaters, five Sooty Shearwaters and a Bonxie. We also heard a Chough over the car park.

juvenile Ruff at Hayle Estuary

Friday, 14 September 2018

Goring and Ferring Rife

An adult Knot on the beach was a nice surprise at the Gap this morning, and further inspired hope of a 'different' wader pitching up here, in the wake of the other day's Barwit. Other waders today included 72 Ringed Plovers (about a dozen of which were tundrae types), a Redshank, 57 Turnstones, 14 Oystercatchers, a Dunlin and 14 Sanderlings (two juveniles). A Shelduck floated around offshore. Grounded migrants included my first Gap Reed Bunting, singles of Spotted Flycatcher, Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat, seven Wheatears and three Blackcaps. Chiffchaff movement had evidently picked up, with 17 grounded birds scattered around the site. Movement overhead included a Tree Pipit, 11 Grey Wagtails, 35 Yellow Wagtails, six Pied Wagtails, 91 Meadow Pipits, 84 Swallows and four House Martins. A Song Thrush was the first I'd seen in a while, a Goldcrest was in the Plantation and two Sparrowhawks - male and female - were seen together. Four Sandwich Terns joined the high tide roost. Mediterranean Gull and Common Gull both numbered six. Two Gannets and 19 Cormorants were offshore.

Knot on the beach at Goring Gap

Wheatear at Goring Gap

Spotted Flycatcher at Goring Gap

Along Ferring Rife I enjoyed watching a group of Magpies play chase with a juvenile male Sparrowhawk. A Willow Warbler was present, along with seven Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap. Five Meadow Pipits flew over and a Grey Wagtail was feeding. A Linnet and a Grey Heron were among other birds noted.

Grey Heron at Ferring Rife

An hour-long seawatch from George V Avenue late afternoon produced two Sand Martins and three Swallows moving offshore, but otherwise just nine Gannets, a Sandwich Tern and three Mediterranean Gulls (which may have been some of those from earlier).

Thursday, 13 September 2018

West Worthing

A short time out in the garden produced 15 Meadow Pipits and a Grey Wagtail overhead, as well as singles of Chiffchaff and Coal Tit around.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Goring Gap and Ferring Rife

After a somewhat dreary start at the Gap, the weather eased up a little and the wind veered from the north to a northeasterly, bringing with it a bit of overhead movement from mid-morning. Personal totals included a Tree Pipit, five Yellow Wagtails, two Grey Wagtails, 197 Meadow Pipits, 83 Swallows, four Sand Martins and 840 House Martins. Six Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew west overhead. Mediterranean Gulls increased to 11, but Common Gulls remained low at four. Sandwich Terns numbered 11 in the roost field. Only half of the site was covered on the ground, since - in terms of grounded migrants - only singles of Whinchat, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff revealed themselves early on and it became clear that vismig was the order of the day. The Treecreeper called in the Plantation and four Skylarks were in the southeastern field. Along the beach were six Oystercatchers and 36 Little Egrets and my wader counts later on included 66 Ringed Plovers, 80 Turnstones and 36 Sanderlings (one juvenile). A Gannet was the only bird of any significance noted in a number of quick scans offshore.

A short, drizzle-hindered walk along the Rife mid-afternoon was rewarded with a Hobby which pitched down in one of the fields, as well as 50 lingering House Martins, a Grey Heron, two Little Egrets, a Common Gull, two Grey Wagtails, 29 Meadow Pipits, and a Sandwich Tern offshore.

Hobby at Ferring Rife

Monday, 10 September 2018

Goring Gap

I spent quite a bit of time overlooking the beach first thing this morning, where a juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit flew in on the flowing tide - the first of the season. Numbers of other birds were low though, with six Oystercatchers, 33 Little Egrets and two Grey Herons. The high tide roost later contained 68 Ringed Plovers (including at least four tundrae types) but only 19 Turnstones and two adult Sanderlings, as well as 15 Sandwich Terns, three Mediterranean Gulls, three Common Gulls and a juvenile Great Black-backed Gull. A Whinchat showed well by the blocked road and I connected with one of Garry's two Spotted Flycatchers in the northwest corner, witnessing it cough up a pellet and munch a Speckled Wood. Two Wheatears were on the beach later but a Whitethroat was the only other grounded migrant I saw. Overhead movement included 22 Meadow Pipits, two Yellow Wagtails, seven Grey Wagtails, 22 House Martins, four Swallows and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. A Buzzard flew from the pond bushes, a Skylark called from the fields and a Coal Tit sang in the Plantation.

juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit


Ringed Plovers, including tundrae-type centre-left

Sandwich Terns

Spotted Flycatcher

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Canons Farm and Banstead Woods

I was back up to Surrey for the third time this week to lead the CFBWBG's Autumn Migration Tour. It was quieter than we might have hoped, but a showy Whinchat at Reads Bottom and an overhead push of House Martins and the odd Swallow saved the day and made it an enjoyable outing for the 14 participants. A couple of Meadow Pipits flew over the farm and in Banstead Woods we enjoyed the sounds of Nuthatches, Coal Tits, Goldcrests, Treecreepers and Bullfinch but none played ball and showed for the crowd!

Whinchat at Reads Bottom, Canons Farm

Friday, 7 September 2018

Goring Gap and Ferring Rife

It was another long day out in the field. Grounded migrants at Goring Gap included a male Redstart, two Lesser Whitethroats, a Whinchat, four Wheatears, three Whitethroats, three Blackcaps, five Chiffchaffs and four Willow Warblers. Two Sand Martins fed over the northwest corner and overhead moved a Swift, seven Yellow Wagtails, two Grey Wagtails, two Pied Wagtails, 10 Meadow Pipits, 17 House Martins and a Swallow. A Greenshank heard calling was a new patch bird for me. Waders at high tide included an increase to 52 Sanderlings (just one juvenile - my first of the autumn), as well as 63 Ringed Plovers, 72 Turnstones, a Redshank and four Oystercatchers. An adult Mediterranean Gull and seven Common Gulls were in the fields. A large female Sparrowhawk was on the prowl and a Kestrel was seen, as well as three Skylarks and a Jackdaw. A Coal Tit sang and I counted 14 Greenfinches. 15 Little Egrets were along the beach. Offshore was a Gannet and nine Sandwich Terns.

Lesser Whitethroat at Goring Gap

Whinchat at Goring Gap

A poor breeding season? Sanderlings increased to 52 birds but just one was a bird-of-the-year...

Extending my walk to Ferring Rife, I encountered a fly-over Peregrine, an additional two Lesser Whitethroats, a Wheatear on the beach, two Reed Warblers, a Blackcap, a Whitethroat, four Swallows, a Pied Wagtail, a Skylark,  a Sparrowhawk, two Kestrels, a Jackdaw, two Rooks, a Linnet, three Mallards and 15 Moorhens. A handful of Little Egrets were loafing around and feeding in the Rife.

Wheatear on the beach by Ferring Rife

Little Egrets at Ferring Rife

Thursday, 6 September 2018

West Worthing and Banstead Woods

Another garden vigil in the morning produced seven Yellow Wagtails, 33 Swallows, four Meadow Pipits, 32 House Martins and three Grey Wagtails overhead. A Chiffchaff visited the garden and a Goldcrest called next door.

After work I drove up to Chipstead for a CFBWBG meeting and had a very quick walk around part of Banstead Woods with Paul and Linda beforehand, the highlight of which was four Bullfinches. A couple of Chiffchaffs were calling.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

West Worthing

Keeping an ear and an eye open while working on my laptop in the garden produced a nice bit of overhead passage. This involved seven Yellow Wagtails, four Grey Wagtails, 12 Meadow Pipits, 80 House Martins and 30 Swallows. A Jay was calling next door.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Canons Farm, Banstead Woods and Holmwood

A quick visit back home gave me an excuse to visit the old patch. It was much quieter than I hoped for but a Yellow Wagtail over Canons Farmhouse was something. Other bits at the farm included three Lesser Black-backed Gulls, three migrant Chiffchaffs, three Swallows, a Whitethroat, four Yellowhammers and a Sparrowhawk. Teaming up with Ian Magness to check a portion of Banstead Woods produced a further three Chiffchaffs, six Nuthatches, four Treecreepers and seven Coal Tits.

Driving back to Worthing in the evening - but in good daylight - a Tawny Owl gave a nice view as it cross the A24 near Holmwood.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Goring Gap and Ferring Rife

Things started quietly but it ended up being a decent enough day on the patch in the company of Gareth, Nick and Garry. Grounded migrants at the Gap included two Spotted Flycatchers, two Redstarts and three Whitethroats, while moving overhead there were 56 Yellow Wagtails, two Swifts, a Tree Pipit, two Grey Wagtails, three Pied Wagtails, 156 House Martins, four Sand Martins and 93 Swallows. Counts included 24 Little Egrets, two Redshanks, 64 Ringed Plovers, 20 Oystercatchers, nine Sanderlings, 10 Dunlin, three Mediterranean Gulls, two Common Gulls and four Sandwich Terns. A quick look at the sea revealed singles of Great Crested Grebe and Gannet. Two Coal Tits, a Jackdaw and a Goldcrest were noted.

Spotted Flycatcher at Goring Gap

Sandwich Tern at Goring Gap

Ferring Rife was on form with two Whinchats, a Wheatear, four Spotted Flycatchers and two Redstarts, as well as a Willow Warbler, a Whitethroat, 13 Linnets, eight House Martins, 14 Swallows, four Rooks, four Jackdaws, a Kestrel, a Sparrowhawk, three Buzzards and 14 Moorhens. We also saw a Clouded Yellow, a Small Copper and a Red Admiral.

Whinchat at Ferring Rife

Rook at Ferring Rife

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Goring Gap and Ferring Rife

I was joined by Ian Jones for a patrol of the patch, starting with the Gap. Things started well with a Redstart by the blocked road, followed by an eastbound and very vocal Golden Plover. However, the real highlight came with a Nuthatch at Ilex Avenue - a mega patch bird and a tick for me! 10 Yellow Wagtails flew over and a Wheatear was in the fields, along with six Skylarks. Four Whitethroats were in the bushes while further fly-throughs included three Sand Martins and 45 Swallows. 33 Little Egrets flew along the shore, seven Sandwich Terns were milling around and waders included 10 Oystercatchers, 64 Ringed Plovers and 56 Turnstones. A glance offshore revealed just a single Gannet. Two Mediterranean Gulls, a Lesser Black-backed Gull and five Common Gulls were noted. A Kestrel was a notable bird for the Gap and a Sparrowhawk flew over. The Treecreeper was in the Plantation; a Jackdaw and three Coal Tits were logged.

Nuthatch along Ilex Avenue

Oystercatchers on the beach at Goring Gap

Extending the walk to Ferring Rife, we added four Wheatears, 36 Linnets, a grounded Grey Wagtail, six Buzzards, 12 Moorhens, another Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Sand Martin, 22 Swallows, four Jackdaws and a Kestrel of note. A Painted Lady was along the beach.

juvenile Buzzard over Ferring Rife

male Wheatear at Ferring Rife