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Sunday, 25 August 2019

Highdown, Goring Gap, Ferring Rife and Pulborough Brooks RSPB

Phil was staying nearby this weekend so I teamed up with him for a morning of Worthing area birding. We started at Highdown, encountering a male Redstart, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Whinchat, three Tree Pipits, three Yellow Wagtails, a Grey Wagtail, a Willow Warbler, 12 Whitethroats, eight Blackcaps, 14 Swallows, two Chiffchaffs, a Goldcrest, a Coal Tit, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Green Woodpecker, a Skylark, a Sparrowhawk, a Kestrel, a House Martin and a Song Thrush.

Goring Gap produced two Yellow Wagtails, 46 Swallows, five Sandwich Terns, a Chiffchaff, a Sparrowhawk, six Little Egrets, six Oystercatchers, 12 Ringed Plovers and four Turnstones.

We only had time to walk a very short distance along one side of Ferring Rife, but we did hear a Firecrest. Three Swallows, a Little Egret and a Blackcap were also noted in our short visit.

Ingrid and I popped in to the shop at Pulborough Brooks RSPB in the afternoon, where we saw a Hobby, a Sparrowhawk and a Swallow fly over. Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Hastings Country Park

A walk around with Christian and Josiah didn't produce as many migrants as expected, I'm sure mainly down to our ineptitude closing in on the best spots at this unfamiliar and quite vast site. However, we did log four Whinchats, two Wheatears, 14 Yellow Wagtails, five Tree Pipits, a Hobby, nine eastbound Buzzards, two Willow Warblers, two Lesser Whitethroats, a good scattering of Whitethroats and Blackcaps; a steady movement of Sand Martins, House Martins and Swallows; a Yellowhammer, a Bullfinch, a Grey Wagtail, 10 Stonechats, a Nuthatch, a Coal Tit, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a Green Woodpecker. Sandwich Terns and Oystercatchers could be heard along the shore.

Hobby

Wheatear (left) and Whinchat

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Cissbury Ring and Banstead Woods

Catches during the morning's ringing included young individuals of Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler. We caught a good number of Blackcaps (a noticeable arrival), along with a few Willow Warblers and Whitethroats. Three Tree Pipits and a Yellow Wagtail flew over. What was presumably the same Marsh Tit could be heard calling first thing. Other birds included six Swallows, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, three Bullfinches, a House Martin, a Treecreeper, a Yellowhammer and a Buzzard.

juvenile Sedge Warbler at Cissbury Ring

juvenile Bullfinch at Cissbury Ring

juvenile Goldfinch at Cissbury Ring

Just before a meeting in the Rambler's Rest in the evening, I joined Linda in a short walk around the east flank of Banstead Woods, though we didn't get much other than a Nuthatch, a Goldcrest, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Linnet.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Steep Down and Pulborough Brooks RSPB

Today just felt like birding at its best. I was semi-reluctant to spend the little time I had this morning at Steep Down but I drove home so glad that I did. My main target was the Quail, remarkably still on territory, and I did eventually succeed in hearing one short burst of song from the bird. Among the grounded migrants were singles of Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher and Lesser Whitethroat, plus five Whinchats, three Wheatears and four Willow Warblers, while flyover action involved 20 Yellow Wagtails, a Tree Pipit, a juvenile Marsh Harrier and, least expected, a Snipe. I couldn't resist constantly re-setting my scope on a nearby pylon to admire a pair of Peregrines taking an easy start to their day, preening and surveying their territory before eventually taking off. Two Sparrowhawks buzzed a flock of some 400 Linnets, while other farmland birds included two Grey Partridges and 13 Corn Buntings. I also noted two Ravens, a Reed Bunting, two Swifts, 11 Swallows, a Kestrel, five Buzzards, two Skylarks, two Meadow Pipits, a Grey Heron, two Green Woodpeckers, eight Whitethroats, three Blackcaps and a Chiffchaff.

Peregrines at Steep Down

juvenile Marsh Harrier over Steep Down

Corn Bunting at Steep Down

Sparrowhawk at Steep Down

Spotted Flycatcher at Steep Down

Wheatear at Steep Down

Wheatear at Steep Down

Whinchat at Steep Down

After sorting some stuff out at home, I headed out again, this time joined by Ingrid, to Pulborough Brooks RSPB. Once we had spent a while peering into the ponds at newts, we set out and bumped into Chris and Juliet. While we were chatting, I clocked a Honey-buzzard circling overhead! It was in view for several minutes as it gained height alongside a Buzzard - I think the first time I've seen these species directly side-by-side - before it was lost to view. Result! Just before we left Chris and Juliet, they noticed two Spotted Flycatchers in a nearby hedgerow. When we finally made it to the North Brooks, we found three Green Sandpipers, 37 Lapwings, three Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a few Shoveler and Teal but little else. A Stonechat, two Treecreepers, two Green Woodpeckers, a Bullfinch, two Nuthatches and three Buzzards were among the other birds we logged.

Honey-buzzard over Pulborough Brooks RSPB

Honey-buzzard (left) with Buzzard over Pulborough Brooks RSPB

Honey-buzzard (right) over Pulborough Brooks RSPB

Spotted Flycatcher at Pulborough Brooks RSPB (these have always been into the light for me this autumn so far! [i.e. today and yesterday])

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

West Worthing, Highdown and Adur Estuary

As I stepped out of the door this morning, a Tree Pipit flew over the garden, a harbinger of a quite extraordinary movement shortly thereafter of 33 birds over Highdown in just under three hours - my record count anywhere. This push included a couple of flocks of half-a-dozen, while a small handful of individuals dropped in for a short while.A Spotted Flycatcher, two Yellow Wagtails, a Reed Warbler, a Sand Martin and three Lesser Whitethroats made for a rewarding session. Not to mention back-up including six Willow Warblers, 14 Whitethroats, a Swift, 25 Swallows, six Chiffchaffs, five Skylarks, two Nuthatches, a Kestrel, three Green Woodpeckers, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Common Gull, a Buzzard and two Bullfinches.

Tree Pipit at Highdown

Lesser Whitethroat at Highdown

Spotted Flycatcher at Highdown

Linnet at Highdown

Visiting the Adur Estuary later, I scanned from the toll bridge and strolled to just north of the A27 and back south a little way. A juvenile Yellow-legged Gull on the mud appeared to be the same as one of Sunday's Brooklands birds (bird 2). Ringed Plovers numbered 24 birds and further birds logged included a Willow Warbler, five Grey Herons, a Little Egret, an Oystercatcher, a Dunlin, six Swallows, three Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a Buzzard.

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull on the Adur Estuary [seemingly bird 2 from Sunday at Brooklands]

Grey Herons on the Adur Estuary

Buzzard over the Adur Estuary

Monday, 19 August 2019

Goring Gap and Ferring Rife

Two Whimbrel on the beach at the Gap were a pleasing sight first thing this morning. They shared the shore with 36 Ringed Plovers, four Sanderlings, two Dunlin, 15 Turnstones, seven Oystercatchers, a Grey Heron and 14 Little Egrets. Flyovers included a Yellow Wagtail, a Swift and another Grey Heron. In the Plantation, a Treecreeper was calling and a Sparrowhawk was on patrol. Seven Sandwich Terns and a Green Woodpecker were among the other birds noted.

I walked over to Ferring Rife and walked up to the country centre and back south along the other side. A Kingfisher flew under the road bridge and fished for a short while at the far end, while the heron roost was busy with three sunbathing Grey Herons and nine Little Egrets. An anxious Reed Warbler alarm-called and waited for me to pass before delivering food to unseen young. Other birds included a male Reed Bunting, two Kestrels, two Buzzards, two Whitethroats, two Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, a Sparrowhawk, two Mallards, four Moorhens,singles of Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, and gatherings of 40 Goldfinches and 130 Starlings, plus three Jackdaws and eight Rooks (the latter two species uncommon here).

Little Egrets and Grey Heron at Ferring Rife

Grey Heron soaking up the rays at Ferring Rife

Kingfisher at Ferring Rife

Little Egret at Ferring Rife

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Highdown, Cissbury Ring, Brooklands Pleasure Park and West Worthing

After a busy weekend working at Birdfair, it took a little while for me to get out this morning. My first port of call was Highdown, where I managed to cover a small part of the site before the heavens opened. The highlight was my first - and long overdue - Whinchat of the year! Two Sand Martins, seven Swallows and a Swift flew through. Other birds included singles of Kestrel, Green Woodpecker and Nuthatch, along with four Skylarks, three Whitethroats and six Blackcaps.

Whinchat at Highdown

The visit to Cissbury Ring paid off with a scattering of half-a-dozen vocal Redstarts, mostly females but including one well-marked male, as well as two heard fly-over Tree Pipits, two Stonechats, a Willow Warbler, a Swallow, four Blackcaps, two Whitethroats, a Yellowhammer, two Buzzards and three Kestrels among the other species logged.

female Redstart at Cissbury Ring

A reasonable number of large gulls were gathered at Brooklands Pleasure Park in the late afternoon, including two showy juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls (an adult and a juvenile). The Mute Swan family and a Grey Heron were the best of the other birds seen.


juvenile Yellow-legged Gull at Brooklands Pleasure Park (bird 1)

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull at Brooklands Pleasure Park (bird 2)

At home in West Worthing, a Swift flew over the garden.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Cissbury Ring, Worthing, Adur Estuary and Brooklands Pleasure Park

I spent the morning ringing at Cissbury with Val and Finch. The ringing highlight came when I heard a Marsh Tit by one of the net rides and requested D.J. Val to put the tape lure on for the species. Sure enough, it was in the net by the next net round. This is my first sighting in the Worthing area. Another moment of joy came later in the morning when I heard a Pied Flycatcher calling in a sycamore which I had earlier noted as looking promising for the species. After a little patience, it afforded some brief views though it stayed elusive within the canopy. Shortly before we packed the equipment away, a Tree Pipit dropped in and briefly landed in a nearby tree before vanishing. A Lesser Whitethroat, a Red Kite, a Raven, a Yellowhammer, two Buzzards, a Sparrowhawk, a Kestrel, 60 Swallows, two Bullfinches, 10 Linnets, a Treecreeper and singles of Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were among the other birds logged while ringing. The catch itself included two Garden Warblers, five Whitethroats, a Chiffchaff, and small numbers of Willow Warblers and Blackcaps.

Marsh Tit at Cissbury Ring

While popping to the Post Office in Worthing in the afternoon, I noticed six Swifts overhead, behaving as though they might still be local birds, though I can't be sure.

I couldn't resist scanning the Adur Estuary in the evening. There were two Whimbrel, two Dunlin, 19 Ringed Plovers, a Common Sandpiper, three Little Egrets, two Oystercatchers and 100 Starlings of note.

Pre-roost time for gulls was checked at Brooklands Pleasure Park though I found nothing better than two Lesser Black-backed Gulls. I heard a Little Grebe, a Grey Heron was resting, 110 Starlings flew over and a charm of some 70 Goldfinches alighted in the trees.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Goring Gap, Adur Estuary and Brooklands Pleasure Park

A slow hour at the Gap first thing produced three Sanderlings, seven Turnstones, 20 Ringed Plovers, four Oystercatchers, eight Sandwich Terns, seven Gannets, an adult Mediterranean Gull, an adult Common Gull, a Willow Warbler and 21 Little Egrets.

The next stop was the Adur Estuary, where there was a Common Sandpiper, a Whimbrel, two Dunlin, 27 Ringed Plovers, two Oystercatchers, nine Turnstones, five Little Egrets, 10 Mute Swans and two adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Late morning I popped in for a short visit to Brooklands Pleasure Park. A juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Little Grebe and one of the parent Mute Swans with the four young were among the birds present.

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull (left) at Brooklands Pleasure Park

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Goring Gap and Adur Estuary

An early morning visit to the Gap felt beautifully autumnal, though migrant numbers on land were small: one Lesser Whitethroat and three Willow Warblers, along with six Whitethroats and two Blackcaps. The beach was livelier than my last visit, mainly thanks to an increase in waders, with 21 Turnstones, two Dunlin, a Sanderling, two Oystercatchers, 17 Ringed Plovers and 12 Little Egrets. Three Gannets flew past in a quick glance offshore. Other birds included an adult Mediterranean Gull, three adult Common Gulls, a Kestrel, a Sparrowhawk, a Green Woodpecker and a Coal Tit.

I called in to the toll bridge over the Adur Estuary in the evening, seeing a Whimbrel, four Dunlin (one juvenile), 13 Ringed Plovers, nine Little Egrets, a juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull, 12 Mute Swans, 60 Starlings and two recently fledged Pied Wagtails attended by a parent.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Pagham Harbour

Ingrid and I dashed over to Church Norton mid-afternoon, naively assuming that we'd get at least one of the three potential year-ticks on offer. Gareth had beaten us there but there was no sign of the Roseate Tern, the Osprey, nor the Little Stints. We gave it an hour, enjoying a scattering of waders including Knot, Grey Plover, Snipe, four juvenile Black-tailed Godwits, Common Sandpiper, two Whimbrel, Turnstone and a reasonable scattering of Dunlin and Ringed Plover. An adult Peregrine was on one of the islands. A few Sandwich Tern loafed on the sand, a Swallow patrolled and a Mediterranean Gull flew over.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Beddington Farmlands

Having stopped off at my parents' last night, I took up Roy Weller's invitation to join him in checking out the dawning of a new era back in my homelands at Beddington Farmlands. The public footpath on the west side now leads to three well-positioned screen-style hides overlooking the Southern Lake, Northern Lake and the new main wet grassland area. As well as catching up with Roy, it was great to see Peter Alfrey, Nic Tidmarsh, Dodge and Mrs Dodge.

The visit was also surprisingly productive bird-wise. Roy picked out a juvenile Turnstone on the Northern Lake, where a juvenile Dunlin, a Common Sandpiper, a Green Sandpiper and a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull were among the other birds present. There were many broods of Little Grebe scattered around the lakes and, moving on to the wet grassland, where I noticed a juvenile Caspian Gull (though imperfect in some respects and presumably from some filthy western colony). Two Cetti's Warblers, a Reed Warbler, seven Greylags and two Swifts were among the other birds seen, along with the usual Teal, Gadwall and Shoveler.

juvenile Caspian-type Gull

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull

juvenile Dunlin (left) with Green Sandpiper


juvenile Turnstone

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Porthgwarra and Withleigh (Tiverton)

Round two. I was set up with the other early risers around 6am but for what seemed like a couple of hours, no seabirds other than Manx Shearwater, Gannet, Kittiwake, Fulmar and Shag were seen, and things began to feel rather desperate! It was a huge relief when at last a Sooty Shearwater went by, and we then ended up seeing a few Balearic Shearwaters. I finished on just eight (and three Sooties) by the time I packed up late morning, though. A Guillemot was the only other notable seabird. A Rock Pipit called. A pair of Chough flew over the car park, where a Willow Warbler was calling.

seawatching at Porthgwarra

I meandered back towards home and stopped off to visit friends in Withleigh near Tiverton. The garden was impressively busy with birds on the feeders, including Siskin.

Friday, 9 August 2019

Porthgwarra

I intended to get to Porthgwarra for dawn but hit a complete (figurative) wall on the overnight drive and only ended up arriving in the car park mid-morning. Despite the assembled crowd of seawatchers, it was clear that the weather was not delivering the goods. Despite the slow-going, I spent a few hours enjoying the steady procession of Manx Shearwaters, with the occasional Balearic (seven) and Sooty Shearwater (two) thrown in, along with a Storm-petrel, an Arctic Skua, five Bonxies and a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull. Fulmar, Gannet, Kittiwake and Shag were abundant offshore, as always.

Bonxie

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Pulborough Brooks RSPB and Pett Level

I spent the morning with Phil at Pulborough Brooks, were we whiled away a happy couple of hours grilling the North Brooks. The long-staying Wood Sandpiper was on view there along with eight Green Sandpipers, a Ringed Plover, three Little Ringed Plovers, 22 Lapwings, a Mandarin, a Little Egret, three Grey Herons, 13 Teal, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, three Kestrels, a Buzzard, 11 Swallows, two Sand Martins, two House Martins, a Reed Bunting, 96 Greylag Geese, two Gadwall and two Shovelers. After seeing two Ravens flew over the reserve, I was blown away by the sight of a flock of 15 following in their path, though uttering just one soft 'cronk' as they went. Three migrant Willow Warblers were along the trail, including one in song, as were small numbers of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs. One spot we passed had three Bullfinches feeding on the ground, and we had a further four of these elsewhere, along with three each of Treecreeper, Whitethroat, Nuthatch and Whitethroat, plus a juvenile Stonechat, three Green Woodpeckers, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 12 Linnets, a Goldcrest, two Skylarks and two Coal Tits.

Wood Sandpiper at Pulborough Brooks RSPB

After a couple of errands at lunchtime, Ingrid and I treated ourselves to a drive over to Pett Level. The light was not in our favour and it a bit breezy but we picked out the drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK soon enough - a lifer for Ingrid - in the left-hand corner of the eastern pool amid a mix of Pochard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Tufted Ducks and Teal. 40 Sand Martins hawked over the pools, where a Little Egret was resting, and two Sandwich Terns flew along the sea wall.

drake Ferruginous Duck at Pett Level

Monday, 5 August 2019

Goring Gap, Adur Estuary, Pagham Harbour and Brooklands Pleasure Park

I started the day enthusiastically at Goring Gap but conditions weren't exactly inspiring and after logging a Kittiwake, 28 Gannets, 15 Sandwich Terns, an Oystercatcher, three Mediterranean Gulls and 16 Little Egrets, I moved on. As I drove off, however, I spotted a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull in a bin-raiding mob of Herring Gulls! Stopping the car, I had a brief suburban gull safari as I photographed the bird through the car window.

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull at Goring Gap

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull at Goring Gap

The Adur was also quiet, with a Common Sandpiper, three Little Egrets, an Oystercatcher, three Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Skylark, a Pied Wagtail, 140 Starlings, nine Mute Swans and my first juvenile Great Black-backed Gulls of the year (two siblings begging at a parent).

I hoped the weather would clear up as I drove to Pagham (it had been pretty wet at Goring and the Adur) but it was still raining when I parked up at Sidlesham Quay. Never mind, I walked in, clocking waders such as Common Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank and Whimbrel on the way to the heron fields. The SQUACCO HERON was duly showing nicely when I arrived, and I was told this was the first time it had appeared since much earlier in the morning! It was certainly an improvement on my views yesterday. A juvenile Kestrel was hunting grasshoppers in the same field.

Squacco Heron at Pagham Harbour

Squacco Heron at Pagham Harbour

I made a point of visiting Brooklands Pleasure Park at midday and identified two juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls among the reasonable gathering of large gulls, which also included my first two or three juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gulls of the year (an adult was present too), and a further juvenile Great Black-backed Gull. A Little Grebe was also on the lake, along with the complete family of Mute Swans still, and two Grey Herons. A Coal Tit was singing along the works entrance road.

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull at Brooklands Pleasure Park (bird 1)

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull at Brooklands Pleasure Park (bird 2)

juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull at Brooklands Pleasure Park

juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull at Brooklands Pleasure Park