Thursday, 17 October 2019

Goring Gap

The sky was quite lively till about 9am when low pressure really moved in and brought some showers. Six Reed Buntings, 430 Goldfinches, 228 Linnets, 87 Meadow Pipits, 51 Pied/White Wagtails, 15 Chaffinches, 83 Swallows, seven House Martins and 14 Skylarks moved through by this point. Of a flock of 15 Long-tailed Tits feeding at the seaward end of The Plantation, 11 suddenly took off, gained height and headed really quite high north, calling excitedly. At the same spot, I was similarly stunned to find a Cetti's Warbler... very out of place! Four Chiffchaffs and four Goldcrests were in the bushes. Seven Dark-bellied Brent Geese were offshore, and the beach had four Grey Herons, three Little Egrets, and small numbers of Grey Plover, Sanderling, Turnstone, Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher, which I didn't manage to count as I was too busy logging finches overhead.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Brooklands Pleasure Park

Clear highlights of the morning were my first Brambling of the autumn, heard over the treatment works access road, where there was a Firecrest. Otherwise, it felt very much a repeat of my last few visits, with two Cetti's Warblers, a Grey Wagtail, nine Chiffchaffs, eight Goldcrests, a Treecreeper, 80 Goldfinches, three Little Grebes, three Teal and the family of Mute Swans...

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Goring Gap

Another slow two-hour seawatch produced 13 Common Scoters, 83 Gannets, a Kittiwake, 13 Common Gulls, seven auks; also seen were two Little Egrets, five Turnstones, a Grey Plover, an Oystercatcher, five Ringed Plovers, three Linnets, 18 Meadow Pipits and an adult Mediterranean Gull.

Friday, 11 October 2019


A seawatch from the pier, before I got turfed off due to the wind reaching Force 8, was slow-going but did produce a juvenile Shag - a Sussex tick for me - and an adult Little Gull heading west, along with a Great Crested Grebe, seven Kittiwakes, 11 Common Scoters, 78 Gannets, a Grey Plover, two Dunlin. Too distant and brief for firm ID were 12 auks and three Common/Arctic Terns. A Red-throated Diver was on the sea. Two Turnstones were on the pier and six Common Gulls and a juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull were noted.

juvenile Shag

Wednesday, 9 October 2019


A magnificent twitch with George Kinnard to Galgorm in Country Antrim saw us connect with the adult male COMMON NIGHTHAWK. Along with a small crowd, including Niall Keogh, Toby Carter, Austin Morley and the Viles crew, we admired the bird for hours at its day roost just by the road, then enjoyed spectacular views of the bird hawking along the River Maine at dusk, often passing within inches of us. We also enjoyed Irish Coal Tit, a flock of redpolls, a Siskin and a Grey Wagtail.

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Brooklands Pleasure Park and Adur Estuary

It was a rather similar visit to last time. Overhead, a Siskin, a Swallow, five Skylarks, three Rooks, 12 Meadow Pipits, 12 Linnets, 49 Goldfinches and six Pied/White Wagtails moved through. At the lake, four Teal, two Little Grebes and the family of Mute Swans were feeding, while two Mediterranean Gulls were loafing and a Grey Wagtail flew across the water. Scattered in the bushes were 24 Chiffchaffs, nine Goldcrests, two Blackcaps, a Treecreeper, a Song Thrush and two Coal Tits. Two of both Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers made themselves obvious.

In the late afternoon I met up with David Darrell-Lambert for a quick look at the Adur Estuary before his evening talk for the SDOS. Highlights were a 1cy Yellow-legged Gull, two Canada Geese (locally uncommon), three Little Egrets, eight Oystercatchers, 19 Ringed Plovers, a Turnstone and seven of both Common Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Cissbury Ring

After my failed attempt yesterday, I returned to Cissbury Ring in somewhat calmer conditions to search for Ring Ouzels, and I certainly found some. I encountered a few small flocks, though none settled for very long - around 20 birds in all, some giving that delightful burbling call. Not a touch on some recent counts elsewhere, but I was equally pleased to count 50 Song Thrushes, mostly actively migrating overhead. There were also two Mistle Thrushes again around the yews, and a single Redwing over. Three Golden Plovers and a Siskin also passed overhead, along with 34 Skylarks, four Reed Buntings, a House Martin, eight Swallows, 65 Meadow Pipits, 33 Linnets and 54 Chaffinches. A Firecrest, 15 Goldcrests, 18 Chiffchaffs, nine Blackcaps and five Stonechats were on the ground. Other birds included three Yellowhammers, two Bullfinches, a Treecreeper, a Nuthatch, two Green Woodpeckers, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Kestrel and 30 Long-tailed Tits.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

West Worthing, Widewater Lagoon and Cissbury Ring

My first Redwing of the season, a little overdue, was heard over my garden this morning but with clear skies and a strong breeze it was no surprise that my attempt at vismig otherwise fell a bit flat, with four Pied/White Wagtails, five Meadow Pipits and three Goldfinches moving. A Goldcrest and a Coal Tit were calling next door and a Common Gull overhead was a fairly uncommon sight from the patio.

I took Ingrid to Widewater so she could go for a dog-walk with a friend from Brighton and I went off to look for birds for half an hour. A Kingfisher alighted for a few minutes on a little boat at the back of someone's house, and a fine adult female Sparrowhawk was doing the rounds of the waterside gardens while a Kestrel hovered nearby. Two Teal, five Mute Swans and five Little Egrets were on the water and the beach had a Turnstone. I also noted a Grey Wagtail, four Linnets, a House Martin and six Meadow Pipits.

With the windy conditions, a long to-do list and man-flu recovery still underway, I'd otherwise written off the day for birding but it was a busy day on the pager and I wondered whether I should have got out and done something purposeful for the first few hours of the morning. In the afternoon, loads of Ring Ouzel reports came through from Sussex and I figured there simply had to be some at Cissbury Ring, so went for a quick look. All small birds seen were diving straight into deep cover but grilling the yew trees revealed two Mistle Thrushes. Deflated, I headed back to the car - though I was cheered on the way by bumping into Nick and Claire - I figured they'd find some ouzels shortly after I went, and of course they did! All I noted otherwise was a couple of Kestrels and Blackcaps, and a Goldcrest.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Brooklands Pleasure Park

The highlights of a couple of hours at Brooklands were three Siskins, 42 Meadow Pipits, 19 Pied/White Wagtails, two Grey Wagtails, six House Martins, 12 Swallows and a Skylark overhead. 11 Goldcrests and 20 Chiffchaffs were scattered in the bushes. A Treecreeper and three Coal Tits, two Green Woodpeckers and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were also noted. The lake held the whole Mute Swan family, a Little Grebe and four Teal.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Goring Gap and West Worthing

With a northwesterly breeze I thought I'd give some vismigging at Goring Gap a go, though the clear blues skies did not particularly help. Passerines included two Reed Buntings, 344 Meadow Pipits, 61 Pied/White Wagtails, a Grey Wagtail, two Sand Martins, 121 House Martins, 33 Swallows, 53 Linnets, 12 Chaffinches, 40 Goldfinches, four Skylarks and two Jackdaws. On the ground was a Wheatear, six Stonechats, two Song Thrushes, seven Goldcrests, three Whitethroats, three Blackcaps, nine Chiffchaffs. Offshore, Dark-bellied Brent Geese were returning from Siberia, with 122 heading west, along with a flock of seven Shelducks. A Whimbrel, a Redshank, three Grey Herons, 16 Little Egrets, eight Ringed Plovers and 19 Turnstones were on the beach. Also around were two Kestrels, a Sparrowhawk, two Mediterranean Gulls and three Common Gulls. Three Great Spotted Woodpeckers included two so embroiled in a silent and note particularly violent face-off that they argued just feet away from me.

Casual observations around and over the garden in West Worthing included singles of Chiffchaff, Meadow Pipit, Coal Tit and Sparrowhawk.

Monday, 30 September 2019

West Worthing, Brooklands Pleasure Park and Adur Estuary

With much to do around the house, I reluctantly stayed in this morning but kept an eye on the skies whenever I popped into the garden, noting 22 Meadow Pipits, 23 Swallows, two Chiffchaffs, a Goldcrest and a garden-tick Little Egret.

In the afternoon I squeezed in flying visits to Brooklands Pleasure Park and the Adur Estuary. At Brooklands highlights included a Grey Wagtail, a Little Grebe, five Teal, a House Martin, 11 Chiffchaffs, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, three Goldcrests, a Little Egret and the entire Mute Swan family still going strong.

The tide was still a little high on the Adur and I only stayed a few minutes, noting four of both Little Egret and Turnstone, a Ringed Plover and a Mute Swan. I've got a reputation for losing and breaking things but have a hitherto respectable track record of keeping my notebooks safe, but this evening I do seem to have lost my current 'edition'. It received a thorough soaking at Spurn and was still recovering from that so had evidently become ill-fated.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Goring Gap

It was rather gusty this morning but some passerines struggled through, namely four Yellow Wagtails, six Pied/White Wagtails, six Swallows and 65 Meadow Pipits. Offshore my first two local Dark-bellied Brent Geese of the autumn headed west, along with two Common Scoters and 13 Gannets. As the tide rose, 84 Turnstones, four Sanderlings, 31 Ringed Plovers and a Dunlin gathered in the roost field, only to be spooked by a passing Sparrowhawk. A Kestrel was flung along the beach by the breeze. Three Skylarks were by the coast road and a Chiffchaff was calling from the seaward end of The Plantation.

Friday, 27 September 2019


I only had a couple of hours before I had to leave, and DDL kindly dropped me in Hull. Getting in the field provided a last-minute headline bird, with a Red-rumped Swallow south past Numpties some 20 minutes after it flew over the observatory less than a mile away. The highlight at sea was a reluctant Manx Shearwater which kept pitching down. Little Gulls flocked in the far distance and the usual Red-throated DiversCommon Scoters and auks passed by. The swallow diverted our attention to the amazing vismig action, with Meadow PipitsReed Buntings and Tree Sparrows piling through, while I also noted singles of Yellow WagtailGrey Wagtail and Yellowhammer. I heard a Greenshank on the Humber.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Spurn and Keyingham

Another day of unfavourable conditions. A Sooty Shearwater, a Swift, a Merlin, a Hobby terrorising Starlings, a Fulmar, four Wheatears, two Yellow Wagtails, a Whimbrel, four Sand Martins, several Red-throated Divers and Common ScotersRazorbillGuillemot, a Greenshank, two Avocets, a Snipe and some Golden Plovers in-off, and nine Pintails were among the day's highlights.

We saw a Hobby over nearby Keyingham.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019


Conditions were far from ideal. Today's highlights included two Pied Flycatchers, an Eider, three Red-breasted Mergansers, 19 Pink-footed Geese, 11 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, seven Wheatears, five Yellowhammers, a Grey Wagtail, a Yellow Wagtail, two Lesser Whitethroats, hundreds of Meadow Pipitsand Golden Plovers, a Willow Warbler, 30 Skylarks, a Peregrinehunting over the Humber, two of both Arctic Skuaand Great Skua, dozens of Little Gullsand Mediterranean Gulls, a Snipeand an Avocet.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019


Again I can't present a particularly impressive return from the day's birding at Spurn, and today's excuse is our rather foolhardy decision to walk The Point. There were virtually no migrants to be found, the best being a flyover Tree Pipit. A look around the Humber and Kilnsea Wetlands produced a typical assortment of common waders and wildfowl, including 30 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and a Greenshank, but the day was only salvaged somewhat by another enjoyable, though in reality quiet, seawatch in the evening. This produced an Arctic Skua, a few Red-throated Divers, a minor movement of Common Terns and Sandwich Terns, and four Snipe in-off. A Pied Flycatcher was in the bushes around The Warren with a Redstart.

Monday, 23 September 2019


A gentle start to our Spurn trip saw David Darrell-Lambert and I have a quick seawatch, though we saw little other than two Red-throated Divers and a Guillemot in half an hour. Kilnsea Wetlands and Beacon Ponds were very quiet, with the tide way out, but over 500 Teal and 100 Wigeon were present, along with three Knot, a Snipe and an Avocet. Tree Sparrows were in the obs garden. No serious birding really, just settling in. A walk down The Point is planned for tomorrow.

Sunday, 22 September 2019


Recently I began to wonder why I hadn't tried seawatching from Worthing Pier. In fact nobody seems to have done so in the time that I've lived here. I figured it might be a wise option on days with strong onshore winds, when seawatching would be the inevitable focus and vismig or migrant-seeking would be a dead loss. Today's forecast didn't expect any particular blow but it predicted a reasonable onshore breeze with showers, so I walked to the pier for a test watch this morning. Frustratingly, the forecast was misleading and there was only a light easterly (though it did veer southeast) with no sign of any showers. It dawned on me I should have been vismigging or migrant-seeking... I really should know by now that the given wind speed and rain outlook figures generally ought to be at least halved.

It was quiet, but somehow I managed to happily while away over two hours, mainly spent counting Gannets: 423 in total, with a roughly even split heading each way. The highlight was a close adult Red-throated Diver, but otherwise three Kittiwakes and six Common Scoters were the best on offer. 24 Mediterranean Gulls, two Common Gulls, 10 Sandwich Terns, nine Swallows and, oddly, a Grey Heron also flew past offshore. Two Grey Wagtails and four Meadow Pipits were heard overhead. In addition, a Little Egret was feeding on the beach and a Turnstone could be heard at roost below the pier. It was satisfying to hear a tannoy early on a Sunday morning telling a dog-walker to get off the beach, as it's now a no-dog zone. If only the powers that be would prioritise conservation over neurotic hygiene for sweaty beachgoers and make areas like Goring Gap a no-dog zone instead.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Adur Estuary

So far this year I'd managed to avoid any Greenshank on the Adur Estuary so I was pleased to see one in flight this morning, while waders were otherwise represented by a Dunlin, 20 Ringed Plovers, a Redshank and 24 Turnstones. Four Mistle Thrushes, which felt like my first in ages, flew over, and I was surprised to rack up six Song Thrushes. 40 House Martins drifted through well above the 13 Swallows logged. Five Reed Buntings were in an adjacent field, along with a Stonechat, and 20 Meadow Pipits travelled east. Two Whitethroats, six Blackcaps and seven Chiffchaffs were in the riverside bushes, some of these being in with a flock of 15 Long-tailed Tits. A young female Sparrowhawk drifted over and a Kestrel was also seen. Two Kingfishers shot along the river and other birds included a Grey Wagtail, seven Pied Wagtails, four Mute Swans, three Little Egrets, a Grey Heron, two Mallards and nine Collared Doves.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Highdown and Steep Down

A morning walk at Highdown featured a Reed Bunting, six Stonechats, four Yellow Wagtails, 62 Meadow Pipits, two Bullfinches, seven Goldcrests, a Whitethroat, 10 Blackcaps, nine Chiffchaffs, nine House Martins, 24 Swallows, a Sand Martin, two Skylarks, a Buzzard, a Kestrel and two Mallards.

male Stonechat at Highdown - an influx today

Late in the afternoon I took a brief stroll around Steep Down, logging another six Stonechats, six Meadow Pipits, a Corn Bunting, 70 Linnets, 30 Goldfinches, a Whitethroat, two Blackcaps, two Chiffchaffs, two Kestrels and a Buzzard.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Goring Gap and Pagham Harbour

A walk around Goring Gap produced a Reed Bunting, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Treecreeper, a Yellow Wagtail, two Wheatears, a Grey Wagtail, 33 Meadow Pipits, nine Chiffchaffs, nine Swallows, a Whitethroat, six Goldcrests, an eastbound Rook, six Jackdaws and a Little Egret.

I met up with Phil at Pagham Harbour's North Wall late afternoon and we ended up whiling away the evening. We dipped the Lapland Bunting but as the tide ebbed, revealing the mud, there was a pleasing array of waders to pick through in the distance. From our admittedly not ideal viewing position we picked out a Curlew Sandpiper, 20 Knot, a Common Sandpiper, seven Snipe, 55 Grey Plovers, 35 Ringed Plovers, a Turnstone, four Greenshanks, 80 Dunlin, 38 Lapwings, 19 Black-tailed Godwits, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 65 Oystercatchers, 60 Redshanks and 30 Curlew. An Osprey offered fantastic views as it played at fishing - my first of the year. 14 Pintail were also in the harbour, along with small flocks of Wigeon and Teal. Other birds included three Cattle Egrets, nine Great Crested Grebes, eight Little Egrets, 20 Great Black-backed Gulls, five Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a couple of Yellow Wagtails (I missed a big flock seen earlier), a Kingfisher, a Sparrowhawk, a Buzzard, five Mediterranean Gulls, a Cetti's Warbler, 80 Swallows, two Sand Martins, a Reed Bunting, a Wheatear and a Lesser Whitethroat.
Cattle Egret at Pagham Harbour

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

West Worthing and Pagham Harbour

In the garden today I heard Coal Tit and Chiffchaff. I was astonished when a female Brown Hairstreak landed on the edge of our pond!

female Brown Hairstreak in my garden

This evening's visit for Wryneck was a dip, sadly, but two Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Yellow Wagtail, two Wheatears, a Cetti's Warbler, three Teal and three Little Egrets were some of the birds that caught my attention while searching.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Cissbury Ring and Farlington Marshes

Val kindly agreed that I could go ringing but shoot off at 9am as I'd played it cool with the Eastern Olivaceous Warbler yesterday and was beginning to worry. It turned out to be a productive ringing session, with Spotted Flycatcher and Reed Warbler the headline birds caught by the time I left. At this point we had also processed 39 Blackcaps, 15 Goldcrests and six Chiffchaffs. Birds noted included a juvenile Peregrine, three Siskins, a Tree Pipit, seven Yellow Wagtails, a Grey Wagtail, 15 Meadow Pipits, two Yellowhammers, a Bullfinch, 40 House Martins, 10 Swallows, two Ravens and a Tawny Owl.

Spotted Flycatcher at Cissbury Ring

After eventually getting parked at Farlington Marshes, the EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER gave itself up nicely to the appreciative crowd, with a Garden Warbler nearby and two flyover Yellow Wagtails.

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler at Farlington Marshes

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Hastings Country Park, Pett, Pannel Valley NR and Dungeness RSPB

Highlights at Hastings Country Park with Christian included a Grasshopper Warbler, a female Redstart, four Lesser Whitethroats, two Spotted Flycatchers, a Whinchat, a Wheatear, three Tree Pipits, three Yellow Wagtails, two Grey Wagtails, 100 Meadow Pipits, a Bullfinch, three Yellowhammers, seven Stonechats, a Nuthatch, eight Whitethroats, 40 Blackcaps, 30 Chiffchaffs and good numbers of hirundines, including 14 Sand Martins. Sandwich Tern and Gannet were offshore and raptors included eight Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk.

We stopped at the quirky Tic Tocery cafe in Pett where House Martins were still attending active nests, and a Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel battled for airspace.

Pannel Valley NR was depressing, with the scrape dry, but we did note two Bearded Tits, a Marsh Harrier, a Raven, a couple of Sparrowhawks, a Sand Martin among further hirundines moving, 95 Lapwings, a Cetti's Warbler, two Shelducks, two Whitethroats, a Grey Wagtail, three Meadow Pipits, a Wheatear, three Nuthatches and a Reed Bunting.

Dungeness RSPB offered a fine end to the day. The ARC Pit offered four Garganey, two juvenile Black Terns, an adult Little Gull, a Cattle Egret, a Great White Egret, two Snipe, four Dunlin, four Ruff, three Black-tailed Godwits, 160 Golden Plovers, two Common Sandpipers, a Greenshank, three Pintail, a Sedge Warbler, etc. Burrowes Pit provided a Black-necked Grebe, two 1cy Caspian Gulls, two Yellow-legged Gulls (2cy and 1cy) and a further Great White Egret. Three Cetti's Warblers were heard. The entrance track had three Whinchats and two Wheatears for our way out.

Whinchats at Dungeness RSPB

Cattle Egret at Dungeness RSPB

Golden Plovers at Dungeness RSPB

Great White Egret at Dungeness RSPB

1cy Caspian Gull at Dungeness RSPB

Friday, 13 September 2019

Kipping's Cross, East Guldeford, The Midrips and Rye Harbour

My short East Sussex break began at Kipping's Cross services with a Red Kite. East Guldeford was frustrating as I couldn't find a legitimate way on to the levels, with singles of Marsh Harrier and Yellow Wagtail the best in my limited watching. Out of curiosity, I popped in to The Midrips, which was even more disappointing. A Marsh Harrier was over the fields at the back and the beach held Turnstone, Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher but the only waders on the pools were three Redshanks. Nine Sandwich Terns and two Gannets were offshore.

Christian joined me for an evening at Rye Harbour, where birds seen included 50 Sandwich Terns, 10 Common Terns, a Kingfisher, three Yellow Wagtails, two Grey Plovers, a Golden Plover, eight Knot, 60 Curlews, 90 Oystercatchers and nine Wigeon, to pick out a few.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Ferring Rife

A walk along the Rife produced three Yellow Wagtails, 13 Meadow Pipits, 210 Swallows and six House Martins overhead. A Spotted Flycatcher, a Willow Warbler, a Goldcrest, two Whitethroats, a Blackcap and five Chiffchaffs were in the bushes. A Sparrowhawk nearly nabbed one of two Grey Wagtails. A Little Egret was feeding and two Grey Herons were seen. Seven Collared Doves, four Jackdaws, 30 Goldfinches, a Buzzard and a Green Woodpecker were among the other birds logged. There was a single gathering of perhaps 150 House Sparrows, which was a pleasure to watch.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Goring Gap and Pulborough Brooks RSPB

I didn't end up staying long at Goring Gap first thing, but noted three Yellow Wagtails, two Ringed Plovers, four Sanderlings, a Common Gull, a Skylark and eight each of Gannet, Little Egret and Oystercatcher.

Having only had a fleeting look at the Red-necked Phalarope at Pulborough Brooks RSPB in the spring, news of a juvenile on the North Brooks had me heading over to the reserve. It was of course distant, but this smart bird could be enjoyed for much longer than the last one, as it span crazily on the nearer pool. A juvenile Little Ringed Plover, two Black-tailed Godwits, two Green Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper, two Dunlin, 15 Lapwings and three Snipe shared the pools. A Marsh Harrier quartered and singles of Whinchat and Wheatear added to the scene. Over 200 House Martins streamed through in the time I was there, with the odd Sand Martin and Swallow thrown in. A flock of 10 Pintail was an unexpected sight and Teal numbered 160, though a Mandarin and two Shoveler were just about the only other ducks. A Grey Wagtail flew over and other birds noted included two Nuthatches, two Treecreepers, a Goldcrest, two Green Woodpeckers and a Lesser Black-backed Gull.

juvenile Red-necked Phalarope at Pulborough Brooks RSPB

Pintail flock at Pulborough Brooks RSPB

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

West Worthing and Highdown

Along my road today, a Chiffchaff was calling from gardens and a Meadow Pipit flew over.

The morning's highlights at Highdown were three of both Spotted Flycatcher and Redstart, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Sand Martin, two House Martins, 27 Swallows, seven Whitethroats, 13 Chiffchaffs, 20 Blackcaps, 10 Meadow Pipits, five Bullfinches, a Red-legged Partridge, three Skylarks, a Goldcrest, a Sparrowhawk, a Kestrel and two Nuthatches.

female Redstart

female Redstart

1cy male Redstart (right) and Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Steep Down, Canons Farm, Banstead Woods and Oare Marshes KWT

The day started at Steep Down, with three Wheatears, an adult male Peregrine, a Willow Warbler, six Chiffchaffs, six Swallows, a Goldcrest, four Meadow Pipits and a Sparrowhawk the best on offer.

It was then up to my homelands to lead the annual Autumn Migration Tour for the Canons Farm & Banstead Woods Bird Group. Given the weather, it was yet another particularly challenging walk, though the participants seemed to enjoy it well enough. The best bird, a Hobby, was unfortunately too fast for most people to get a view of, and a Yellow Wagtail was merely heard as it flew over. Other stuff included four Yellowhammers, 35 Swallows, a Meadow Pipit and two Kestrels. A Sparrowhawk tussled with two of the five Buzzards seen.

Banstead Woods offered a Bullfinch, a Treecreeper, and a few Nuthatches and Goldcrests.

In the afternoon, I took my old friends from school, Panos and Francis, who wanted to get a taste of some birding, to Oare Marshes KWT. Happily, this resulted in me finding an adult American Golden Plover among the Golden Plovers on the East Flood! A very elegant and beautifully marked bird, it was still in about 75% breeding plumage and had attitude, occasionally charging at its European companions! It conveniently stayed mostly at the front edge of the flock and wasn't too distant, providing a great opportunity to study just my third individual in Britain. This bird represents the eighth record all-time for Kent. Two juvenile Curlew Sandpipers, a few Ruff, Knot and Avocet, and a couple of Snipe were some of the other waders present. Water Rail, Yellow Wagtail and Cetti's Warbler were heard.

adult American Golden Plover (centre) with Golden Plovers at Oare Marshes KWT

Friday, 6 September 2019

Goring Gap and Adur Estuary

A Knot fleetingly on the beach was the clear highlight of the morning, while a little bit of vismig included four Yellow Wagtails, seven Grey Wagtails, four Sand Martins, nine Swallows and 19 Meadow Pipits. A female Stonechat, five Wheatears, a Willow Warbler, four Goldcrests, three Chiffchaffs, a Whitethroat and two Blackcaps were 'on the ground'. Three Common Terns and 16 Sandwich Terns flew past. Further waders included 33 Ringed Plovers, 36 Turnstones and an Oystercatcher, while a Little Egret was also present. Other birds included five Mediterranean Gulls, two Common Gulls, two Green Woodpeckers, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, three Rooks and a Jackdaw.

Some time spent at the Adur Estuary later on produced a Kingfisher, seven Dunlin, 49 Ringed Plovers, a Redshank, an Oystercatcher, six Turnstones, three Meadow Pipits, seven Mute Swans and five Little Egrets.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Cissbury Ring, Adur Estuary, Mill Hill and Brooklands Pleasure Park

Cissbury produced two female Redstarts, a Tree Pipit flying west with a Wheatear (plus another of the latter on the deck), a Grey Wagtail, a trickle of House Martins, Swallows and Meadow Pipits overhead and small numbers of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Whitethroats in the bushes. A single Lesser Whitethroat, three migrant Goldcrests two Ravens, a Yellowhammer and four Kestrels were among the other birds noted.

Great Spotted Woodpecker at Cissbury Ring

Wheatear at Cissbury Ring

At the Adur, Ringed Plovers had increased since my last visit to 38 birds, and other waders were five Dunlin, three Lapwings and two Turnstones. Just one Little Egret was fishing, and lone Yellow Wagtail and Meadow Pipit flew over, plus three Swallows. One Lesser Black-backed Gull was present.

I moved on to Mill Hill, which was very quiet save for flyovers from a Tree Pipit and two Yellow Wagtails, plus five Meadow Pipits and 11 House Martins.

Brooklands Pleasure Park had a 1cy Yellow-legged Gull on the lake along with two Lesser Black-backed Gulls. By far the highlight of the day was a Pied Flycatcher in the willow at the sewage works end of the stream, where a Cetti's Warbler was also calling. The Mute Swan family was still happily feeding, as was one Grey Heron. A Chiffchaff was the only further passerine migrant.

Pied Flycatcher at Brooklands Pleasure Park

1cy Yellow-legged Gull at Brooklands Pleasure Park

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Goring Gap

After spending much of my free time over the last few days booby twitching, I was dying to get out locally. I only managed to pop out for an hour or so late morning, though, and the westerlies seemingly stopped migration dead. The only passerine migrant noted was a Whitethroat. The beach had 28 Oystercatchers and 23 Little Egrets. A Kestrel joined two Common Gulls and a mix of other gulls following the plough. Three Mediterranean Gulls were noted, as were singles of Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, and two Jackdaws.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

The Lizard

I met Dick Filby off the M25 and we pressed on through the night for my third attempt for Brown Booby in Cornwall over the last few days - every other day I'd made the journey! After the two failed attempts, I was very much hoping this further sleepless night would have a positive result. It wasn't quite a case of hoping for a 'third time lucky' as, insanely, the Lizard bird was a clearly younger and different individual to that which had so far evaded me (despite the species never being seen in Britain before a couple of weeks ago).

The odds were more favourable for this trip, the bird having been seen to settle at the back of its favourite rock the previous evening, though much like the moon the far side of this particular rock could not be seen from terra firma. It wasn't seen again by dusk but it was assumed, as it hadn't been seen leaving, that it was roosting out of sight.

Our first hour-and-a-half on site was anxious, and the inevitable sense of dread at the thought of another dip built up with every passing minute. It was such a moment of relief and joy, therefore, when just after 8am the 2cy BROWN BOOBY launched itself from behind the rocks and performed a couple of close fly-bys, delighting the crowd! It almost settled in view on one of the nearest rocks then had another fly-around before resting more distantly, but in perfect view with a scope.

Brown Booby

A flock of seven Chough was a real treat, and the sea had a Sooty Shearwater and good numbers of Manx Shearwaters and Gannets. Two Ravens flew over.

Sunday, 1 September 2019


Dipped again. At least this time I had company - in fact we were oversubscribed at one point...! I was joined by Garry Bagnell, Ian Jones, George Kinnard and John Lees, ensuring a lively journey to Cornwall and back. Indeed, the whole trip ended up more of a social occasion as, naturally, the booby was having yet another off-day or had cleared off altogether. A summer-plumage Great Northern Diver which flew in to the bay - about the range of the streams of Manx Shearwater - was the clear highlight, along with a flock of five Ravens. A Wigeon flew past and Kittiwakes and Guillemots were seen, but otherwise it was ditto Friday.

Friday, 30 August 2019

Gwithian and Trevescan

I travelled alone overnight and joined Liam, Toby, Gethin and the rest of the crowds assembled a little way northeast of the Hayle Estuary mouth. Long story short, the Brown Booby never put in an appearance. A Knot, a Whimbrel, a Sand Martin, four Swallows, a Rock Pipit, two Ravens and a basic assemblage of seabirds including Manx Shearwaters, Shags, Gannets and Fulmars, plus several Mediterranean Gulls, were feeding out in the bay. Eight Sandwich Terns were on the sand and Ringed Plover, Turnstone and Oystercatcher were also present.

I gave up just before midday and headed to Trevescan, though didn't search for the Western Bonelli's Warbler for particularly long at all before making my way back home.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

West Worthing

A Willow Warbler called from a neighbouring garden early in the morning.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Adur Estuary, Mill Hill, Amberley and Brooklands Pleasure Park

I thought the tide might be at a level warranting a visit to the Adur first thing this morning, but it was too high for any waders. I did note a Willow Warbler, four Little Egrets, eight Mute Swans, a Green Woodpecker and a Pied Wagtail.

Curious after a report of a good mix of migrants the other day, I checked out Mill Hill and earmarked it as another local site to try to check on every now and then. The best migrants were a Redstart, a Whinchat and a Willow Warbler. I heard House Martin overhead, three Swallows flew through and a Lesser Black-backed Gull went over. Several Whitethroats and Blackcaps were in the bushes. While packing my stuff up, 10 Painted Ladies exploded from a buddleia in the car park - an impressive sight!

Ingrid was continuing her section-hike of the South Downs Way today and I met her for lunch in Amberley. A welcome bonus came when I heard Peregrine calls from a quarry by the pub and looked up to see a pair of adults, the female proudly clutching a Green Woodpecker kill... Both times I've clearly seen Peregrine with a kill this year, Green Woodpecker has been the victim!

adult female Peregrine in Amberley, with Green Woodpecker

Later at Brooklands Pleasure Park, I had two Teal, what looked like one of the regular juvenile (well, now first-winter really) Yellow-legged Gulls, a juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull, two Grey Herons and the family of Mute Swans.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

West Worthing, Highdown, Goring Gap, Ferring Rife and Pulborough Brooks RSPB

First thing, a Tree Pipit flew over at home in West Worthing.

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.

Spotted Flycatcher at Highdown

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.


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