Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Goring Gap

It was back to local birding this morning. I didn't have much time so figured a vismig/seawatch from Goring Gap was the best bet. Overhead movement included 390 Goldfinches, 127 Linnets, 19 Pied/White Wagtails and 27 Meadow Pipits. A Rock Pipit feeding on the beach was my first 'on the deck' record here, and two Yellowhammers in the bushes represented my second site record (and first multiple). A flock of 16 Skylarks toured the fields and two Stonechats were in the rough grass. Offshore moved two Wigeon, 19 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, three Razorbills and another three distant auks. Two Common Scoters were on the sea. The beach held a Redshank and small numbers of Grey Plover, Sanderling, Ringed Plover and Dunlin, and a Little Egret.

Rock Pipit

Saturday, 26 October 2019

St.Mary's and Scillonian III

Our last day was uneventful, with a second day of horrid weather, and this time it wasn't even worth seawatching. St.Mary's offered five Black Redstarts, a Peregrine, a 1cy White Wagtail, a Wigeon, an adult Mediterranean Gull, and best of all a 2cy Yellow-legged Gull which flew north past us at Porthloo.

The crossing back to Penzance had limited daylight, especially as it was running half an hour late due to the conditions, but we had a dark morph Arctic Skua, a Bonxie and a few Kittiwakes. I had a couple of frustrating glimpses of a storm petrel sp between the waves.

Despite the mucky end, it was another fabulous week on Scilly with Phil, Ian, Mag and Paul, birding from dawn to dusk and retreating to the pub each night.

Friday, 25 October 2019


It was wet and windy today so we ended up doing little other than a couple of seawatches off Peninnis Head. Besides a handful of Razorbills, Guillemots and Kittiwakes, the only bird I managed to lay eyes on was a Leach's Storm-petrel, which afforded somewhat unsatisfactory views from our vantage point.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

St.Mary's and St.Martin's

An initial look around Porthcressa and The Garrison was quiet, with only a Wheatear and a Kingfisher on the beach of any real note.

St.Martin's offered superb views of what was presumably the same Hen Harrier we saw over Peninnis Head the other day. Today it was identifiable as a juvenile female as it play-hunted sticks and had a half-hearted go at a female Pheasant. We also noted a Whinchat, a Golden Plover, 13 Snipe, 25 Ringed Plovers, a Peregrine, two Ravens, a Skylarks and two Greenshanks.

Once back on 'home turf' in the evening we had another look for the Blyth's Reed Warbler at Rosehill and achieved just-identifiable views before dusk set in. We also managed point-blank views of the adult Whooper Swan which arrived on the island last night, along with a feeding Snipe.

1cy Blyth's Reed Warbler at Rosehill, St.Mary's

adult Whooper Swan at Lower Moors, St.Mary's

Wednesday, 23 October 2019


We completed a circuit of the island today. We enjoyed a tranquil lunch at Watermill Cove in the company of a juvenile SPOTTED SANDPIPER. It was seen off briefly by our first Kingfisher of the trip but soon returned for other birders to enjoy. After carefully comparing images, it seems likely to be a different bird to the St.Agnes individual. Other highlights today included a Black Redstart, two Merlins, three Common Scoters, 75 Sanderlings, a Greenshank, a couple of Bramblings, five Siskins, two Wheatears, a Firecrest, three Skylarks, a Swallow, two Sparrowhawks, two Water Rails and nine Kittiwakes.

juvenile Spotted Sandpiper

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

St.Mary's and Tresco

An initial walk on St.Mary's through The Garrison saw us encounter the BLUE ROCK THRUSH again, showing at much closer range, and a heard-only Yellow-browed Warbler. We scoped across to Samson and counted a record total of eight Spoonbills, while a summer-plumaged Great Northern Diver was feeding just off that island and five Bar-tailed Godwits were in flight with a flock of Curlew. Two Mediterranean Gulls were in The Roads. A Black Redstart was on The Garrison and we had three Wheatears and a Brambling. A Stock Dove on a rock off Porthcressa Beach was out-of-place.

Our day on Tresco was successful, with an ISABELLINE WHEATEAR found by Steve Broyd, a more obliging Yellow-browed Warbler, an adult male Waxwing flycatching from wires, two Black Redstarts, juvenile drake Scaup, two Pochards, 30 Siskins, a Swallow, a Peregrine, three Snipe, three Greenshanks, four Redshanks, a Water Rail and two Wigeon.

Isabelline Wheatear

adult male Waxwing

1cy drake Scaup

Back on St.Mary's in the evening we managed flight views (and more importantly calls) from the RED-THROATED PIPIT found on Peninnis Head, before it cleared off towards Gugh/St.Agnes.

Monday, 21 October 2019


On our third attempt we caught up with the Spotted Crake at Lower Moors, which performed nicely alongside the path. Later on, a first-winter Citrine Wagtail was found at Salakee Farm and we connected with this in the end too as it creeped about a cattle field. Watching a fine male Hawfinch opposite the riding stables in the evening was a fine way to end the day. Other highlights today included two Yellow-browed Warblers, two Pink-footed Geese, two Bramblings, two Merlins, three Peregrines, a Greenshank, a few Snipe, a couple of Water Rails, an adult Mediterranean Gull, a flock of 16 Stock Doves, a Cetti's Warbler, five Swallows, three Wheatears, three Siskins and hundreds of Redwings and Fieldfares.

Spotted Crake at Lower Moors

male Hawfinch at Pelistry

Merlin at Pelistry

Sunday, 20 October 2019

St.Mary's, St.Agnes and Gugh

We headed round to The Garrison before getting a boat over to St.Agnes, at least that was the plan. On the way along Porthcressa beach, we passed Dick Filby and Tim Vaughan who were on their way to Peninnis Head. Not long afterwards - while we were on the Lower Broome Platform - Dick radioed out that they'd had a Chestnut-eared Bunting fly from one of the lower fields on Peninnis! We wasted no time in charging over there, but it soon became clear that they bird had moved through as quickly as it reappeared. We figured our chances of being heroes in relocating the bird were comparable with our odds of finding a new mega on St.Agnes - and there were British ticks on offer on that island for some of the team - so at the last moment we decided to resume the original plan. We were of course the only birders on the boat to St.Agnes, but it turned out to be a good move!

A productive day on St.Agnes saw us connect with the SUBALPINE WARBLER and the SPOTTED SANDPIPER, while we spotted two Lapland Buntings and a Merlin. Other stuff noted included a Spotted Flycatcher, a Whinchat, a Greenshank, a Willow Warbler, 35 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, good numbers of Redwings - with a few Fieldfares mixed in, three Wheatears, a Grey Wagtail, three Siskins and a Skylark. Stepping a few feet onto Gugh paid off with a big Scilly tick when a Yellowhammer flew east over us!
1cy Spotted Sandpiper on St.Agnes

1cy Spotted Flycatcher on St.Agnes

The only birds of note seen and heard on St.Mary's before/after our trip to Aggy were a juvenile Hen Harrier over Peninnis Head, two Ravens over Porthcressa Bay and a Water Rail at Lower Moors, plus a Wheatear on Porthcressa Beach, scores of Redwings and a Grey Wagtail. A Lapwing flew from St.Agnes to St.Mary's while we were on the boat.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Penzance, Scillonian crossing and St.Mary's

While Ian, Phil, Mag, Paul and I waited on the Scillonian III, we enjoyed a summer adult Red-throated Diver fishing just off the boat. A Grey Wagtail and a few Shags were around, then we set off. The way over was quiet, but there was a Sooty Shearwater, three Arctic Skuas and a Bonxie, as well as decent numbers of Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills and Gannets, and a couple of pods of Common Dolphins.

adult summer Red-throated Diver

Our first day of birding on St.Mary's saw us eventually connect with the BLUE ROCK THRUSH on Peninnis Head after what felt like a painful foreverness, and a couple of near-misses, but in reality we were very lucky compared to others who have truly struggled to see this bird. We connected with no other rarities or scarcities by sundown, but a Whimbrel, a Greenshank, a small number of Wheatears and Stonechats were around, and at Lower Moors in the evening we heard three or so Water Rails.

1cy Blue Rock Thrush on Peninnis Head

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.