Sunday, 17 February 2019

Tilgate Forest, Tilgate Park, Cowdray Forest and Ashdown Forest

It was a bit breezy really but Phil and I met up for some birding at Tilgate Forest. The clear highlight came when Phil realised that he'd left his camera's memory card in his computer at home so went back to his car to drop off his gear. At this moment, an adult female Sparrowhawk touched down in a stream only about 15 yards away from me. I expected her to instantly notice me and spook but she went on to bathe for the next five minutes or so. With a small step or two every 30 seconds, I managed to get in a better position to photograph the bird. Once I'd lifted the camera to my eyes, I dared not switch to binoculars or shift sideways for better light but it was an encounter to cherish nonetheless. Also noted on site were two Crossbills, a redpoll, five Siskins, three Bullfinches, a singing Mistle Thrush (another was singing along the lane as we drove in), a Buzzard and two Treecreepers.

adult female Sparrowhawk

We ventured into Tilgate Park to give a nod to the adult drake Ferruginous Duck from the German reintroduction scheme. An adult drake Mandarin showed nicely on the bigger lake, where a pair of Mute Swans were courting in the sunshine and a Great Crested Grebe fished. A Treecreeper and a few Siskins were also logged in the park.

German-released adult drake Ferruginous Duck

adult drake Mandarin

A very quick look in the Cowdray Forest off the end of Parish Lane produced a pair of Marsh Tits and another singing Mistle Thrush.

We'd planned on getting to Gills Lap in the Ashdown Forest while still sunny and warm but we arrived much later than planned, by which time the day was meeting a rather dull conclusion. Aside from three Crossbills, 55 Meadow Pipits gathering to roost, three Yellowhammers and three redpolls, there wasn't much to see.

Meadow Pipit

Saturday, 16 February 2019

The Burgh and West Worthing

A misty and quickly aborted visit yielded four Grey Partridges, a male Marsh Harrier, a Red Kite, a Kestrel, two Buzzards, six Skylarks, two Meadow Pipits, two Fieldfares, a Redwing, a singing Mistle Thrush, 14 Pied Wagtails, a Yellowhammer and seven Reed Buntings.

Grey Partridges

As I pulled into my road in West Worthing, two Mute Swans flew over, making me curse that I hadn't quite timed my arrival at the door perfectly in order to add them to the house list!

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Burton and Chingford Ponds, Borden and Goring

Burton and Chingford Ponds this morning produced two Firecrests, three Pochards, 42 Tufted Ducks, three Gadwall, 12 Little Grebes, a Great Crested Grebe, six Great Spotted Woodpeckers, three Green Woodpeckers, two Buzzards, a Marsh Tit, seven Coal Tits, five Treecreepers (one singing), a Nuthatch, 15 Redwings, a singing Mistle Thrush, a Grey Wagtail and five Siskins.

I revisited a nice site I discovered a couple of years ago near Borden, spending a couple of hours there early afternoon. Just as I was about to head off, my target species appeared, with an immature female Goshawk soaring across my view.  Other raptors were a Sparrowhawk, two Red Kites and nine Buzzards, while three Cormorants flew over. I was delighted and somewhat perplexed to find three Woodlarks, a singer and a courting pair, around some arable fields. The singer of the pair followed the other bird within a tree, while both birds bobbed incessently and flicked their wings and tail. Two Crossbills, 30 Siskins, a singing Mistle Thrush, two Treecreepers including a singer, a Redwing, a redpoll, 11 Meadow Pipits, a Fieldfare, six Stock Doves, two Nuthatches and a Skylark were also noted.

immature female Goshawk near Borden

Goring Gap had 10 Mediterranean Gulls and 82 Common Gulls. Another adult Mediterranean Gull was seen along the greensward as I drove home.

adult Mediterranean Gull at Goring Gap

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Pagham Harbour

Church Norton had a Firecrest and a Chiffchaff in the bushes near the car park, while I saw the wintering Whimbrel for the first time this year from the benches. The tide was low, but waders included a Knot, 85 Grey Plovers, nine Ringed Plovers, 800 Lapwings, 47 Oystercatchers, 300 Dunlin and 13 Turnstones. Making my way along the spit, I viewed across the harbour mouth and thanks to over-the-phone directions from Nick and Gareth connected with the Hooded Crow - a bird I thought I'd lucked out on this year. A Sandwich Tern fishing offshore was a pleasant surprise, and other highlights included a pair of Peregrines, five Mediterranean Gulls, seven, Little Grebes, 270 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, seven Pintail, 150 Teal, 50 Wigeon, 56 Shelducks, two Meadow Pipits, five Skylarks, and singles of Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Little Egret and Reed Bunting. A Sparrowhawk flew over the car as I drove out through Sidlesham.

Hooded Crow (left) with Carrion Crow


Sunday, 10 February 2019

Lizard Point

A full 10 hours of scanning the sea, following eight hours off Porthgwarra yesterday. The only notables offshore were five Red-throated Divers, a Bonxie and five Shelducks, with only Fulmars, Gannets, Kittiwakes, Guillemots and Razorbills making up the numbers. An adult Mediterranean Gull and 50 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were offshore. Two Chough and a Raven flew over, and two Rock Pipits kept us company, one occasionally bursting into song.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Porthgwarra and Hayle Estuary

With news of a Black-browed Albatross off Lizard Point the previous evening, the first morning of my weekend in Cornwall at Liam's started at Porthgwarra. We felt pretty optimistic that it might well pass through, and a Sooty Shearwater (plus another seen by others) early in the morning further inspired us. I logged a surprising seven Manx Shearwaters - and this was only about half of the birds called - as well as a Great Northern Diver, a Bonxie, four Curlews, and of course Rock Pipits, good numbers of Fulmars, Gannets, Shags, Razorbills, Guillemots and Kittiwakes.

We felt safe enough to leave at about 3pm to look through the gulls at Hayle Estuary, picking out the regular 3CY Caspian Gull and three Yellow-legged Gulls (a displaying pair of adults and a near-adult). Also there was a Greenshank and 220 Curlew, plus Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Wigeon, etc.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Goring and Holmethorpe Sand Pits

A seawatch from George V Avenue produced a Fulmar, 21 Dark-bellied Brent Geese (13 west), seven Red-throated Divers, a Great Crested Grebes, 16 Gannets, a Kittiwake, 37 Razorbills/Guillemots and an adult Mediterranean Gull.

On the way to Cornwall, I stopped at Holmethorpe Sand Pits where the juvenile Black-throated Diver was showing at last knockings on Mercers Lake.

Thursday, 7 February 2019


A seawatch for almost an hour and a half off George V Avenue first thing produced the first local Fulmar of the year, two Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 23 Red-throated Divers, a Great Crested Grebe, 12 Gannets, two Kittiwakes, 18 Razorbills/Guillemots and a small handful of Red-breasted Mergansers.

I had grand plans for the day but was put off by the gusty conditions in the end, so the only other birding I did was to pop over to the Gap at high tide, where there were 11 adult Mediterranean Gulls (some in fine nick), 74 Common Gulls, three Grey Plovers, 15 Ringed Plovers, 20 Dunlin and four Skylarks.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Burpham/The Burgh and Cuckmere Haven

It was a case of revisiting old friends this morning, with the 10 Bewick's Swans again west of Burpham church, and the Siberian Chiffchaff showing nicely with 10 Chiffchaffs at the sewage works. I walked a little bit of The Burgh too, and in my meanderings logged a Cetti's Warbler, a male Stonechat, two Marsh Harriers (including an adult male), 16 Fieldfares, three Redwings, three Yellowhammers, six Reed Buntings, 23 Linnets 20 Skylarks, three Grey Partridges, 65 Lapwings, two Greylag Geese, six Mute Swans, etc.

Bewick's Swans and Mute Swans

Siberian Chiffchaff (left) and Chiffchaff

Siberian Chiffchaff

Cuckmere Haven was too misty and a bit of a waste of time, though 300 Wigeon, six Redshanks, a Sparrowhawk and a Redwing were logged through the murk.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

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

Starting at Goring Gap was very uneventful, with visibility at sea limiting observations to a sole Red-breasted Merganser and two Great Crested Grebes, though a short walk produced the two male Reed Buntings, a Redwing, a Green Woodpecker and a Song Thrush.

A look from the bridge at the Adur Estuary produced four Redshanks, a Curlew, 11 Lapwings, a Rock Pipit, a Meadow Pipit and two Little Grebes. At Shoreham Harbour, I enjoyed watching the showy male Black Redstart flitting around the fort, where there were two Meadow Pipits, and a glance offshore revealed good numbers of Razorbills and Guillemots flying by, along with a Kittiwake and a few Gannets.

adult male Black Redstart at Shoreham Harbour

Brooklands Pleasure Park had a Firecrest, six Goldcrests, a Little Grebe, a drake Pochard, seven Teal, two Grey Herons and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Returning to the Gap briefly around midday, the roost field contained 66 Grey Plovers, 19 Ringed Plovers, 136 Dunlin, nine Sanderlings and two adult Mediterranean Gulls.