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.