Monday, 31 December 2018

Goring Gap and Buckland Sand Pits

The sea was busy at Goring Gap this morning, a fitting way to finish the year. Some 90 Red-breasted Mergansers and 85 Great Crested Grebes were feeding, while seven Razorbills, two Wigeon and three Teal paused offshore. 23 Red-throated Divers included a few feeding birds. Eight Kittiwakes, 222 auks (mostly Razorbills but all very distant), four Gannets and three Dark-bellied Brent Geese flew past. On the beach were 76 Sanderlings, 20 Turnstones, 35 Grey Plovers, 10 Oystercatchers and upwards of 150 Dunlin. 128 Common Gulls and 21 Mediterranean Gulls were counted, as were 10 Skylarks.

A very quick stop at Buckland Sand Pit, where I peered through the fence by Dungates Lane, featured seven Gadwall, a few Wigeon calling, three Coal Tits (one singing), a singing Goldcrest and a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker (these sounds creating quite an optimistic soundscape!).

Sunday, 30 December 2018


During my first English Winter Bird Survey visit this morning, at my BBS square on the north side of Lyminster, I recorded a reasonable 48 species. In a familiar scenario, two egrets in a muddy field with cattle turned out to be Little Egrets. Then a third bird came into view, and yes, this time it was a Cattle Egret! I'd imagine this is the same bird someone saw from a train on the adjacent line a few weeks ago. Other highlights during the visit included a Cetti's Warbler, a Chiffchaff, 229 Lapwings, a 2CY Mediterranean Gull, 10 Wigeon, 110 Redwings, a Grey Wagtail, three Meadow Pipits, two Reed Buntings, a Yellowhammer and a Buzzard.

Cattle Egret

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Cissbury Ring

A morning ringing with Val and Mya featured two retrapped Firecrests among a reasonably varied catch which put us at 1,003 captures at the site this year. Sightings while ringing included a Reed Bunting, two Ravens, a singing Mistle Thrush, two Treecreepers (one singing), a Fieldfare, 60 Redwings, a Meadow Pipit, four Bullfinches, 10 Goldcrests, four Buzzards and several Red-legged Partridges.


Thursday, 27 December 2018

Westdean Woods and Burpham

Parking up at Goring Gap this morning, the tide was far out, there was barely any wind and I just couldn't face putting in an hour or two just for the sake of it, so got back in the car and headed to Westdean Woods. I spent a tranquil hour-and-a-half walking along the Monkton Farm track, enjoying nice views of good numbers of common birds. There were around 200 Chaffinches scattered about, with a female Brambling and a female Reed Bunting in their midst. Three Marsh Tits and three Mistle Thrushes were also encountered, while a couple of Yellowhammers were in an adjacent field. Three Red Kites, a Buzzard and a Kestrel were logged. A couple of Siskins, two Ravens, a Treecreeper and a Nuthatch were also noted. Greenfinch, Linnet and Song Thrush were in song. A Stoat dashed across the path.

Robin at Westdean Woods
 Stopping at Burpham, bad views of four Bewick's Swans (three juveniles) were had from the church before another Chiffchaff-watching session at the sewage works. Half a dozen birds were noted. They're fascinating birds to watch in winter, both for their behaviour and plumage variation. I could not see the 'fulvescens' type bird but there were one or two which felt like reasonable abietinus candidates. A Pied Wagtail defended the filter bed against a Grey Wagtail, and occasionally had a pop at the Chiffchaffs, while a Water Rail called and three Redwings, a Reed Bunting and a Fieldfare were logged.

Monday, 24 December 2018

West Worthing and Hedgecourt Lake

A Great Spotted Woodpecker heard from the garden in West Worthing was a notable record for the house.

While dropping Ingrid off at the airport (for a very quick Christmas trip to Edinburgh), news came through of a Ferruginous Duck at Hedgecourt Lake. Unfortunately, I had made the rookie error of leaving all my gear at home but nipped over anyway, under the assumption that at least one or two people will be looking and might be good enough to let me look through their scopes. There were two birders present, including Alan Goddard, but there was no sign of the duck. Only three Pochards seemed to be present, and two calling Water Rails were the highlight of the trip.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Goring Gap

A lazy vigil from the car turned up a surprise in the form of a Bonxie tracking low east along the beach, though the sea was otherwise quiet, with just two Red-breasted Mergansers, a Red-throated Diver and two Gannets. The wader roost continues in strange fashion, with 38 Grey Plovers, three Sanderlings and 25 Dunlin using the field prior to high tide but moving off before it came. The waterlogged fields attracted a good number of gulls - I didn't get a chance to count accurately but something in the region of 500 Common Gulls were loafing, though only two were 1CYs. Nine Mediterranean Gulls - seven adults and two 2CYs were present, though nothing else of note. Some 70 Pied Wagtails were feeding, along with three Meadow Pipits and just three Skylarks.

Monday, 17 December 2018

Goring Gap and Burpham/The Burgh

I spent just over an hour at the Gap first thing, producing six Red-throated Divers, an adult Mediterranean Gull, the wintering female Stonechat and 13 Grey Plovers.

Being such a lovely day I thought I'd spice things up by heading to Burpham, where I easily found the herd of six Bewick's Swans (three adults and three juveniles). It's hit me just how infrequently I see this graceful visitor from the tundra, and how sad it is that the Arun Valley herd is now so diminished. Water Rail and a few Teal were vocal in the valley, where there was a pair Stonechats. Hearing a Chiffchaff calling below the road reminded me of the waste treatment works which I'd driven past previously but never checked out. I ended up spending several hours studying the 10 or so Chiffchaffs present around the filter bed, including a fine 'Siberian Chiffchaff' (form tristis, though looking quite like a 'fulvescens' type). A Corn Bunting flew over, while a Sparrowhawk hunted and small numbers of Kestrels, Buzzards and Red Kites patrolled the downs. A Raven, a couple of 30-strong Linnet flocks and small numbers of Redwings, Goldcrests, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks were logged.

'fulvescens'-type 'Siberian Chiffchaff'

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Goring Gap

An hour at the Gap produced a Guillemot, 10 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Red-throated Diver and two Great Crested Grebes of note.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Goring Gap

A short visit to the Gap this morning produced a Dark-bellied Brent Goose on the beach, a Shelduck, two Red-throated Divers, a Gannet and the most regular wader species.

Thursday, 13 December 2018


Stopping at my parents', I went into town for some Christmas shopping, the walk there and back featuring a Peregrine, a couple of Goldcrests in song, three Redwings and a Pied Wagtail.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018


An adventure with Franko but sadly a dip. Traeth Lligwy held no Royal Tern but offered three Pale-bellied Brent Geese, two Great Northern Divers, two Black Guillemots, three Common Scoters, a Bonxie, several Kittiwakes and Fulmars, two Ravens, c60 Dunlin, a Greenshank, Sanderlings, Turnstones, Oystercatchers, Shags and a Bullfinch of note.

Nearby Afon Goch had Little Egret, another couple of Ravens, possibly the same Greenshank, Shelducks, etc. Red Wharf Bay offered two Bar-tailed Godwits, 11 Knot, two Little Egrets, good numbers of Wigeon and a few Teal, a Rock Pipit and a Grey Wagtail, Shelducks, Dunlin, etc.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Pulborough Brooks RSPB

Another, though very rushed, look for the White-rumped Sandpiper inevitably ended in failure, though a Firecrest was a nice surprise and a male Bullfinch showed nicely near a subsinging flock of 20 Linnets.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Pulborough Brooks RSPB

I was planning on staying in and getting things done today but of course news came through from Pulborough that the White-rumped Sandpiper was still there. I went over for it but the bird was stupidly distant and showing no signs of wanting to move around or feed so after a couple of hours I cut my losses. A Marsh Harrier quartering the brooks was the best bird and a Reed Bunting was heard near the visitor centre.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Canons Farm, Banstead Woods and Pulborough Brooks RSPB

This morning I led the CFBWBG's Winter Tour. We started at the Canons Farm where highlights included Barn Owl, a few Fieldfares and Redwings, Yellowhammer, Meadow Pipit, Skylark and five fly-over Mallards. Spending a fair bit of time in Banstead Woods, we enjoyed prolonged views of a flock of seven Siskins gleaning from tree trunks, while a Mallard was on Piddly Pond and a nice set of woodland birds included Treecreeper in song, Mistle Thrush and Bullfinch, plus 30 more Redwings and a fly-over Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Siskins in Banstead Woods

On the way home I stopped at Pulborough Brooks RSPB in the hope of seeing the White-rumped Sandpiper found by Matt earlier in the day but it was a dip in miserable weather - with a Dunlin being the closest we got and the best entertainment being the numbers of Pintail and Wigeon present. Good to see Louis F-H in the hide though.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Goring Gap and East Preston

I gave the migration watch an hour this morning, coming up with only five Red-breasted Mergansers, three Red-throated Divers and two Gannets. With work to do, I almost called it a day and headed home but I'm glad I did a short loop of the fields as I stumbled upon a Snow Bunting on the central road near the beach. Fortunately it didn't flush straight away but when the next car came along it did fly over to the beach, where I saw it pitch down and fully expected to easily relocate it. However, as I put the news out - with Clive, Garry, Gareth and Nick arriving within minutes - it must have given me the slip as none of us could find it anywhere, despite scouring the beach and fields for a couple of hours. On examining my photographs it seems to be a 1CY female. Also noted were 211 Common Gulls (a significant increase), seven adult Mediterranean Gulls, the female Stonechat, three Meadow Pipits, 26 Skylarks, two Goldcrests, a Sparrowhawk and five Pied Wagtails. It was again a strange day for waders, with no high tide roost to speak of and only Turnstones and an Oystercatcher seen along the beach either side of the high tide.

1CY female Snow Bunting
At Haskins garden centre, East Preston, later, I had a Grey Wagtail.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Capel Fleet and Belmont

As we drove back through Capel Fleet from the wader ringing at 00:10, Paul and I stopped the car to watch a Short-eared Owl by road. Stopping off at Belmont, three Redwings were in my parents' garden in the morning.

Short-eared Owl

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Harty Ferry

Late night wader ringing at Harty saw me processed Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin and Redshank. Knot and Curlew were also caught. The soundscape while we worked included a Barn Owl, Brent Geese, Grey Plovers, Golden Plover, Avocet, Lapwings, Teal and migrating Redwings.

Monday, 3 December 2018


An hour from George V Avenue first thing produced three Red-breasted Mergansers, a Red-throated Diver, two Gannets, two Great Crested Grebes, two 2CY Mediterranean Gulls, three Common Gulls and two Meadow Pipits. A few flocks of Dunlin moved on the tide.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Goring Gap, Pagham Harbour and The Burgh

A quiet seawatch at the Gap featured a Shelduck, a Great Crested Grebe, six Gannets, 14 Common Gulls and five Red-breasted Mergansers. The usual waders present included 60 Dunlin and 17 Grey Plovers but a bonus Golden Plover was in the roost field. A Grey Heron flew east and four adult Mediterranean Gulls and a Meadow Pipit were also noted.

A visit to Pagham Harbour with Adrian provided a nice change of scenery. We didn't walk much at all - just parked up at Church Norton and scanned from the benches. Two Firecrests and a Chiffchaff were along the path. A Whimbrel was present and one of the Bar-tailed Godwits was in full summer plumage. A flock of 150 Knot was otherwise the wader highlight, along with good numbers of Grey Plovers, Dunlin, Ringed Plovers, etc. A swirling mass of perhaps 600 Lapwings was at the back. Wildfowl included a Goldeneye, a Red-breasted Merganser and a Teal, plus a few Dark-bellied Brent Geese and Wigeon. Several Mediterranean Gulls were around, along with a couple of Meadow Pipits and seven Skylarks.

Bar-tailed Godwit

Moving on to The Burgh, we almost turned straight back home due to the mizzly conditions but we were glad that we scanned for a few minutes as we were rewarded with a nice flyby Merlin, as well as couple of Red Kites and flocks of 30 Skylarks and 60 Linnets.

Friday, 30 November 2018

Goring Gap

Two hours of migration watching this morning was fairly quiet in general but a/the Red-necked Grebe heading west provided a clear highlight. Red-breasted Mergansers were hard to count but a bare minimum of 11 were on the sea. Four Dark-bellied Brent Geese, six Great Crested Grebes, a Shelduck, a Red-throated Diver and a Gannet also passed. 10 Skylarks, two Meadow Pipits and two Linnets flew through. TwoAll of the usual wader species were on the beach but I only managed to count Sanderlings, Grey Plovers and Ringed Plovers, the former numbering 90 and the plovers 24 each. Two adult Mediterranean Gulls and 11 Common Gulls were logged. Two Goldcrests were in the seaward section of The Plantation.

Thursday, 29 November 2018


A write-off of a seawatch from George V Avenue this morning - the wind driving straight into the beach shelter, rain on and off and only two Red-breasted Mergansers and a Gannet during the half-hour chance I gave it. I then decided I could use my time more productively today and got some writing done.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Goring Gap

The 1CY drake Eider was still on the sea this morning, along with six Razorbills, 19 Red-breasted Mergansers and 33 Great Crested Grebes. Six Red-throated Divers were logged, including one or two pitching down, as well as two Kittiwakes, five Gannets, a Guillemot and six further auks. Light overhead passage involved 50 of both Linnet and Chaffinch, two Siskins, nine Meadow Pipits, 75 Goldfinches and a Skylark. With the bonus Redshank still present, all the usual waders were on the beach, including 24 Grey Plovers. The female Stonechat, four Mediterranean Gulls and two Common Gulls were also noted.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

West Worthing and Goring Gap

As I left the house this morning, three Redwings flew ftom trees next tto a house a couple of doors down. Wildfowl are the enduring theme of patch birding at the moment and an eventful first few minutes of seawatching/vismissing at the Gap this morning saw an adult drake Goosander pass east along the shore and a 1CY drake Eider bobbing on the sea. Later, a flock of six Egyptian Geese west over land was constituted an unexpected patch tick. Offshore 28 Red-breasted Mergansers and 23 Great Crested Grebes made up the numbers, while 10 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, three Red-throated Divers, 36 Gannets, four Kittiwakes and 16 auks - mostly Razorbills - went through. The Goldfinch tap was still on, with 160 heading east, along with 22 Meadow Pipits and 12 Linnets. The usual waders were on the beach, including 20 Grey Plovers and 16 Oystercatchers, plus a Redshank but the high tide roost was again non-existent, the birds evidently using another site at the moment. Four Lesser Black-backed Gulls (three adults and a 2CY) were in the roost field, along with eight adult Mediterranean Gulls and two Common Gulls. 23 Skylarks, a Jackdaw, a Chiffchaff and five of both Goldcrest and Pied Wagtail were also logged.

1CY drake Eider

Egyptian Geese

three adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls - the scarcest 'common gull' here, with one of the omnipresent Great Black-backed Gulls

Friday, 23 November 2018

Goring Gap

There was a marked increase in the number of Red-breasted Mergansers and Great Crested Grebes on the sea since my last visit, with 34 and 10 respectively. 40 auks were mostly very distant but those passing within ID range were Razorbills, while a Guillemot was on the sea close in. A Common Scoter and two Dark-bellied Brent Geese flew past, while 12 Red-throated Divers, 18 Kittiwakes and 43 Gannets were noted. The usual waders were on the beach, along with my first Redshank for the site since the summer, and four adult Mediterranean Gulls and five Common Gulls were around. What I presume to be the same Reed Bunting as on 18th was calling from the fenced rough at dawn. 30 Skylarks were in the roost field, a Song Thrush (still thin on the ground) was in The Plantation, three Meadow Pipits were on the stubble strip and the female Stonechat was still by the blocked road. Goldcrests had decreased to just three. Two Linnets and five Goldfinches moved east and 12 Pied Wagtails were around. I missed out on the Great Northern Diver reported by an unknown and unseen birder.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Belmont and Banstead Downs

At my parents' this morning, two Redwings were feeding in a berry-laden tree in the car park as I headed for a stroll around Banstead Downs. The biggest surprise during this excursion was a female Reed Bunting which emerged from the south end of the current sheep pen - the rank vegetation in this area looks rather good at the moment. A Lesser Redpoll was on the golf course side of the railway and other species encountered included a party of three Bullfinches, some 60 Long-tailed Tits in various flocks, 20 Redwings, nine Goldcrests and a flyover Common Gull.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Goring Gap

A 2-hour seawatch this morning was rewarded with a nice selection of wildfowl, headlined by a group of three Eiders and no fewer than eight Velvet Scoters heading east offshore, including a group of five and a singleton with a Tufted Duck in its wake. 12 Red-breasted Mergansers, three Teal, 10 Common Scoters, two Great Crested Grebes and a Kittiwake flew east, while four Dark-bellied Brent Geese went the other way and 19 Red-throated Divers, 236 Gannets and 73 auks were also logged passing. Waders present included 30 Grey Plovers and 75 Dunlin, though only 11 Ringed Plovers and four Turnstones. An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was in the roost field, while two Mediterranean Gulls and four Common Gulls were also seen. A female Stonechat was by the blocked road, a Chiffchaff was in the northwest corner and six Skylarks, four Goldcrests and two Song Thrushes were among the other birds noted.

Velvet Scoters

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Goring Gap

The first Pintail of the autumn, a drake, flew west past the Gap this morning. Flocks of 11 and four Golden Plovers flew over and offshore five Dark-bellied Brent Geese, three Red-breasted Mergansers, a Great Crested Grebe and a lone Gannet passed. Goldfinches were still bombing through east in decent numbers, over 600, with six Siskins, 21 Chaffinches and 15 Linnets thrown in, and 24 Meadow Pipits heading the same way. A Reed Bunting and a female Stonechat were in the fenced rough, while an impressive flock of 58 Skylarks toured the fields. Waders on the beach included the usual Sanderlings, Ringed Plovers, Oystercatchers and Turnstones, with a skittish flock of 50 Dunlin and small numbers of Grey Plovers. A Grey Heron flew west and an adult  Mediterranean Gull was noted. A circuit of the site totted up 12 Goldcrests, plus a Chiffchaff, and a Kestrel was hunting. In excess of 300 Woodpigeons  flew through but just what they were doing was unclear.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Cissbury Ring

An early start saw Val, Mya, Terry and I meet at dawn to set the mist nets. It was a pretty lively session with a good variety in the catch, including three Firecrests, a Bullfinch and the odd Blackcap, Redwing, Song Thrush and Chiffchaff (one of the latter interestingly being a 2CY+ caught and ringed on site in August while in post-breeding moult!). I'm always keeping an ear and eye out as much as possible while ringing and scanning between net rounds scored us a fly-over Great White Egret as it headed northeast late morning. A heard-only Lapwing was also noteworthy, as was a marvellous flock of nine Ravens, and some 200 Common Gulls fed in the adjacent fields.  Fieldfares and Redwings moved overhead, along with much smaller numbers of Siskins, Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Linnets. A Tawny Owl was vocal first thing.

Great White Egret


male Bullfinch

Friday, 16 November 2018

Goring Gap

Through light drizzle this morning I spent a pleasant couple of hours wandering the Gap with Gareth. A Golden Plover which dropped into the central fields was the first main highlight, followed by a surprise Black-necked Grebe on the sea (later twitched by Garry and Clive) and 17 Lapwings overhead. The sea was quiet otherwise, with just a lone Great Crested Grebe. The beach held four Grey Plovers and reasonable but uncounted numbers of Dunlin, Ringed Plovers and Turnstones, plus a couple of Oystercatchers. A Grey Wagtail, four Mediterranean Gulls, nine Skylarks, nine Goldcrests, two Pied Wagtails and five Meadow Pipits were among the other species logged.

Black-necked Grebe

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Thorncombe Street and West Worthing

I met up with Ed at his Thorncombe Street patch this morning, finding a showy male Ring Ouzel at Tilsey Farm and enjoying a steady flow of Fieldfares and Redwings overhead. A couple of Mistle Thrushes and Meadow Pipits, a Red Kite, two Ravens and singles of Yellowhammer, Bullfinch and Reed Bunting were among the other notables logged during the visit. Taking in Bramley Mill Pond, another part of the Thorncombe Street recording area, we added two Mandarins, two Little Grebes, five Shovelers and a Gadwall. Back home in West Worthing, a late afternoon fly-over by three Pied Wagtails was notable for the garden.

male Ring Ouzel

Monday, 12 November 2018

Goring Gap

I didn't bother looking at the sea and just did a circuit of the Gap. Overhead 145 Goldfinches trickled east, including one or two Siskins calling among them. 15 Chaffinches went the same way. A Firecrest was by the pumping station, with another in the northwest corner, along with a Blackcap and a Chiffchaff. 12 Goldcrests were dotted around and an unploughed area attracted 22 Skylarks, six Meadow Pipits and 29 Linnets. 10 Pied Wagtails and 220 Starlings were also feeding in the fields. The Treecreeper announced its presence in The Plantation. Five Mediterranean Gulls were logged, along with an increase to 50 loafing Common Gulls, though few waders were around, with a quick look at the beach and the roost field around high tide revealing just 12 Ringed Plovers, three Dunlin and two Turnstones.

Sunday, 11 November 2018


Another depressingly quiet seawatch from George V Avenue did produce a 2CY Yellow-legged Gull, which made it feel worthwhile. Otherwise, the only birds noted moving offshore during the hour were singles of Mediterranean Gull and Great Crested Grebe.

2CY Yellow-legged Gull

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Goring Gap and Brooklands Pleasure Park

My patching fuel gauge blinking with depleted enthusiasm, I just about managed to get up to the Gap for 07:30, hoping for further activity on the sea. Within half an hour the sole bird recorded moving was a distant eastbound Great Crested Grebe. There were barely even any waders on the beach, a single Grey Plover, a flock of 22 Dunlin, a couple of Turnstones and a Little Egret being the only birds feeding. Quite frankly pissed off at the Gap being reverted to a bird exclusion zone, I moped around The Plantation for a while, where there was a clear arrival of Goldcrests, around 20 in all, their whispy exchanges doing something to brighten my depressed outlook but not enough to inspire a full circuit of the site.

News from Gareth and Paul James at Brooklands Pleasure Park of a Pallas's Warbler made me at once glad for these gents and shamefully bitter that it was not among my Goldcrests. I snapped out of it and drove over there, luckily getting a few nice views along the road to the sewage works there before it went missing. Also present were very good numbers of Goldcrests, two Firecrests, a Chiffchaff, two redpolls and a Grey Wagtail. Mingling with the loose crowd reminded me to appreciate the value of being around other birders - the Gap has been a bit of a lonely vigil this year, myself usually being the only birder present in the mornings, and, sadly, conversation with dog-walkers is just as likely to irk as uplift.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Goring and West Worthing

A 90-minute seawatch from George V Avenue this morning largely felt quiet but was rewarded firstly by a distant Little Gull moving east, then by a Red-necked Grebe heading in the same direction. Two Teal, two Common Scoters, nine Great Crested Grebes, three Red-throated Divers, a Mediterranean Gull, over 100 Gannets and a few Guillemots and Razorbills were offshore. A couple of Meadow Pipits flew up from the beach and a migrating flock of 20 Goldfinches flew east.

A Meadow Pipit flew over the garden when I set out this morning and I heard a few Redwings after dark over Worthing last night, including over the garden. This morning a Curlew flew along the beach opposite Marine Gardens.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Cissbury Ring

A lovely morning's ringing on the Ring with Val featured some nice catches, such as a Firecrest, two Bullfinches and several Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests. A Brambling, two Lesser Redpolls, two Reed Buntings, six Siskins, three Yellowhammers, 19 Greylags, a Little Egret, a Treecreeper, eight Pied Wagtails, five Redwings, two Meadow Pipits and four Skylarks were among the other birds noted during the visit.

1CY male Firecrest

1CY female Bullfinch

adult male Chaffinch

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Goring Gap and The Burgh

A brief visit with special guests Paul G and Jazz mid-/late morning produced three Red-throated Divers, two Great Crested Grebes, three Dark-bellied Brent Geese, a Kittiwake, 26 Gannets, 16 Common Gulls, 30 Razorbills/Guillemots (mostly the former), three Mediterranean Gulls, 17 Skylarks, a Little Egret, two Grey Plovers, 20 Oystercatchers and uncounted Dunlin, Turnstone and Ringed Plover.

With seabird movement dying down but the breeze still offputting we decided to check out The Burgh for a couple of hours, where highlights included a fleeting flight view of a group of around 10 Grey Partidges, as well as six Red Kites, 10 Buzzards, four Kestrels, a Reed Bunting, 30 Linnets, three Meadow Pipits and 25 Stock Doves.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Canons Farm and Worthing

A casual stroll around Canons with Geoff - more for a catch-up than anything (the farm felt decidedly uninspiring), produced 15 Meadow Pipits, 40 Linnets, two Yellowhammers, a Pied Wagtail, a Common Gull, 10 Fieldfares, 16 Redwings, six Skylarks and a Treecreeper among other expected species.

In Worthing later, a Grey Wagtail and a Pied Wagtail flew over the shops.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Beddington Farmlands

November began with me back at one of my 'home patches' in the hope of connecting with the Richard's Pipit found by Pinpoint earlier in the week. Christian, Roy W and I scoured the mound to no avail though working machinery in the area favoured by the bird might not have helped our cause. Dejected, I ended up scanning through the gulls on the North Lake before we had to bid an exit, turning up two nice first-winter Caspian Gulls. Other highlights during the visit included a Cetti's Warbler, a Stonechat, three Snipe, eight Meadow Pipits, three Skylarks, a Buzzard and two Reed Buntings.

1CY Caspian Gull

second 1CY Caspian Gull

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

West Worthing and Belmont

No real birding today but noteworthy observations at home in West Worthing and at my parents' in Belmont, with a Siskin over mine as I got into my car in the morning then four Redwings over the Surrey gaff later on, with a Song Thrush around the car park.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Goring Gap and Ashdown Forest

It was a fairly lively morning for movement though I had to leave at 09:00. Waders moving included eight Lapwings in-off the sea (a group of six and two singles), a Golden Plover east and a Snipe west. Wildfowl were represented by 11 Wigeon, four Teal, six Common Scoters, three Red-breasted Mergansers and 38 Dark-bellied Brent Geese. Passerines moving overhead were mainly finches, with two Bramblings, six redpolls, a few Chaffinches, 78 Siskins, 343 Goldfinches and 84 Linnets. Others included two Reed Buntings, 20 Meadow Pipits and five Pied Wagtails. 60 Cormorants included a flock of around 45 and singles of Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Little Egret were logged.

A visit to the Gill's Lap area of the Ashdown Forest made for a pleasant few hours between mid-morning and early afternoon, distant views of the Great Grey Shrike eventually being upgraded to unforgettable close-range views of the hunting bird after a game of patience. Two Bramblings and four Crossbills flew over, while a Dartford Warbler, a Raven, 12 Fieldfares, two redpolls, three Siskins and two Reed Buntings provided further interest.

Great Grey Shrike in the Ashdown Forest

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Goring Gap

A ringtail Hen Harrier arriving off the sea and heading NNW was an excellent way to finish today's guided bird walk. Three Knot on the beach were another highlight, along with two Grey Plovers and small numbers of the usual Sanderlings, Dunlin, Ringed Plovers, Turnstones and Oystercatchers. Some wildfowl movement was evident with two Red-breasted Mergansers, 25 Wigeon, two Teal, five Common Scoters, six Shelducks and 15 Dark-bellied Brent Geese. Singles of Brambling, Rock Pipit and Reed Bunting flew over, along with seven Siskins, 94 Goldfinches, seven Meadow Pipits, 50 Chaffinches and 130 Starlings arrived off the sea. A Red-throated Diver flew east and 55 Cormorants were mainly heading west, including a flock of 35; Gannets numbered just 11. A Great Crested Grebe was on the sea and a Pheasant was an usual sighting by The Plantation, which continued to hold the Treecreeper, as well as two Goldcrests and a Song Thrush. Six Linnets and 20 Pied Wagtails were around, as well as a Chiffchaff, four Skylarks, nine Mediterranean Gulls, 15 Common Gulls and a Little Egret.

Hen Harrier

Friday, 26 October 2018

Goring Gap

Relatively little was moving offshore and overhead this morning but I persisted for a few hours, rewarded for the most part by my first patch Brambling of the autumn as it called twice on its way east. A relatively close fly-by from a flock of three Common Scoters and two Red-breasted Mergansers was another highlight, the mergs breaking off to drop on the sea. 17 Dark-bellied Brent Geese moved west in flocks of nine and eight, but otherwise just 30 Gannets, 11 Common Gulls and nine Mediterranean Gulls were logged offshore. A Rock Pipit and Reed Buntings flew over, while a redpoll, 13 Siskins, 77 Linnets, 180 Goldfinches, 16 Meadow Pipits and two Skylarks were logged. Some 90 Pied Wagtails were feeding in the churned up fields, a Stonechat was still in the fenced rough and two Goldcrests and a Chiffchaff were in The Plantation but I didn't do much of a walk today. Singles of Buzzard and Sparrowhawk put in appearances and the beach held a Curlew, 12 Ringed Plovers, eight Dunlin, six Sanderlings, 12 Oystercatchers and 11 Little Egrets.


male Pied Wagtail

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Goring Gap

A fairly uneventful day, with a push of 333 Gannets, 65 Common Gulls and seven Common Scoters offshore being the highlights, along with two Reed Buntings, and good numbers of Pied Wagtails in the fields - around 40 - with a Grey Wagtail looking a little out of place picking through the plough with them. 20 Siskins and four redpolls flew over, along with around 100 Goldfinches, 29 Meadow Pipits and 10 Linnets. On the beach were two Grey Plovers, 12 Dunlin, 29 Sanderlings, 10 Ringed Plovers, 63 Turnstones, 12 Oystercatchers seven Little Egrets and a Grey Heron. Just two Mediterranean Gulls were around. Singles of Kestrel and Sparrowhawk were noted, along with three Chiffchaffs, two Stonechats, four Goldcrests and two Jackdaws. I enjoyed spending a few minutes watching two Jays foraging boldly in the open at close range on the disturbed ground in the northwest corner, but it wasn't clear what they were gathering.


Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Goring Gap

A couple of season-firsts for me on and over the sea, with four Red-breasted Mergansers and a Red-throated Diver passing. Also moving were two Mute Swans, a Common Scoter, an unidentified auk, 170 Gannets and 14 Common Gulls, while a Great Crested Grebe was close inshore. A Lapwing called from somewhere on the beach before a Carrion Crow betrayed its presence and pushed it off northwest. Three Reed Buntings flew over, along with 46 Meadow Pipits, two Siskins and Grey Wagtail. Two Grey Plovers on the beach were my first of the season for the patch, with 27 Sanderlings (four 1CYs), nine Turnstones, 13 Ringed Plovers and four Dunlin also present. Also noted were two Chiffchaffs, 35 Pied/White Wagtails, 20 Linnets, 10 Skylarks, a Grey Heron and five Mediterranean Gulls.

Great Crested Grebe

Grey Plovers

Monday, 22 October 2018

Goring Gap

My first visit to the patch since Scilly turned out be spectacular for finch vismig. Stuff was going on as soon as I arrived and I found it hard to precisely count each species as mixed flocks bombed high overhead. In the end I was quite satisfied with my estimates as a fair reflection of what was going on: a spectacular 1,465 Goldfinches, 90 Siskins, five redpolls and 170 Linnets mainly going east. Other movers included a Knot, a Curlew, a Dark-bellied Brent Goose, a Buzzard, a late Swallow, three Rock Pipits, three Reed Buntings, five Skylarks, three Chaffinches, a Grey Wagtail, 33 Pied/White Wagtails (with another 25 in the fields). On the ground were six Chiffchaffs, three Goldcrests and a further 11 Skylarks, as well as the Treecreeper calling in The Plantation. Quite a few Gannets started moving around offshore but I neglected counting them for the finches. 10 Mediterranean Gulls, 14 Common Gulls and two Little Egrets were around, as well as Sanderlings, Ringed Plovers and Turnstones which went uncounted today.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Banstead Woods and Canons Farm

Despite the bright conditions, a 2.5-hour vismig session on the 'old patch' from Hither Field with Darragh and Adrian was rewarding enough, with a Brambling, 90 Fieldfares (both my first of the autumn), some 1,100 Redwings, four Blackbirds, 23 Siskins, eight Skylarks, 13 Meadow Pipits, a Grey Heron, three Pied/White Wagtails, 15 Mallards, 230 Woodpigeons, four Linnets and 31 Chaffinches. Starlings also moved through in small numbers. Five Song Thrushes, a Bullfinch and a couple of Goldcrests and Coal Tits were around the viewpoint, while three Buzzards were in the distance.

Moving on to Canons Farm - where we encounter Roy and Ian M - another three Siskins flew over and three Stonechats were in Reads Bottom. Two late Chiffchaffs were between Canons Farmhouse and Reads Rest Cottages. A Fieldfare, 60 Redwings, three Meadow Pipits and a Pied/White Wagtail flew over. Four Yellowhammers, a Sparrowhawk and eight Buzzards were also logged.

Yellowhammer at Canons Farm

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Trevescan, Drift Reservoir and West Worthing

An overnight drive with Ed and Gareth - who did a magnificent job of keeping me alert despite their own sleep deprivation - saw us arrive in the grassy car park field at Trevescan just after dawn. To our delight and huge relief the first-winter GREY CATBIRD (Britain's second) that we had travelled to see showed nicely on three occasions during our visit in the scrub just northwest of Treve Moor House. The surrounding area was busy with small numbers of Redwings, Song Thrushes, Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Siskins flying over, as well as a heard-only Chough, a Snipe, a Grey Wagtail and a couple of Reed Buntings.

Grey Catbird at Trevescan

Unfortunately we didn't have a huge amount of time on our hands so we left after about three hours to fit in a pit-stop at Drift Reservoir, seeing the reported three Ring-necked Ducks distantly from the road.

Back home and after dark, four Redwings seeped their way over my West Worthing garden.

Monday, 15 October 2018

St. Mary's and Scillonian crossing

It was time for a fond farewell to Scilly but we managed to fit in a few hours of birding on St. Mary's before catching the Scillonian III back to Penzance. The focus of our attention was the yellow-less and plausibly Eastern yellow wagtail at the riding centre (presumably the bird heard yesterday), which I managed to get several recording of to send off to experts. A Ring Ouzel flew over Content and other highlights included five Black Redstarts, my first Redwing of the season, a Reed Bunting, a Wheatear and eight Swallows.

yellow wagtail sp. at the riding centre

During the sailing back, we logged an Arctic Skua, a Bonxie, a 2CY Mediterranean Gull and the usual Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Guillemots and Gannets.

The yellow wagtail sp. was later confirmed from sonograms as another EASTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL!

Sunday, 14 October 2018

St. Mary's

It was a day to enjoy St. Mary's in the calm conditions after the storm. Up at Pelistry we checked in on the Wryneck feeding at the base of a hedge opposite the riding centre and had a look at a nearby Ring Ouzel. While in the area a raspy yellow wagtail sp. flew over and migrants included a Spotted Flycatcher, two Black Redstarts, a Redstart and a few White Wagtails. A Turtle Dove feeding with Collared Doves at Porthmellon was a real treat, and another Redstart was there. Holy Vale held a Yellow-browed Warbler and Old Town had a Greenshank and three Whinchats. The juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit was still on Porthcressa beach and a Willow Warbler was by the dump. Other highlights during the day included a Raven, three Water Rails, two Yellow Wagtails, a Raven and 34 Swallows.

Viewing towards Samson revealed a Spoonbill and a Shelduck - both new for the trip.

female Redstart at Porthmellon

Ring Ouzel at Pelistry

Turtle Dove at Porthmellon

Whinchat at the dump

Saturday, 13 October 2018

St. Mary's

After getting soaked to the skin yesterday and not feeling all that good for it afterwards, none of us could bring ourselves to go straight out into the wind and rain again this morning. Heading out to Peninnis for a few hours of seawatching in the afternoon paid off with five Balearic Shearwaters, two Sooty Shearwaters, four Puffins, a Manx Shearwater, three Bonxies, five Guillemots and eight Razorbills. The only other sightings worth mentioning from very limited birding were two Mediterranean Gulls, a Greenshank and a Sparrowhawk.

Friday, 12 October 2018

St. Mary's

An utter write-off of a day. Pretty violent weather inspired a seawatch but getting up to Peninnis Head for dawn proved to be a bad move, with so much rain that only Gannets were ploughing through the conditions, with 242 noted in the couple of hours we were there. A Sandwich Tern from our 'obs' was the only other thing worth mentioning, as we spent the rest of the day recovering inside.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Tresco and St. Mary's

Tresco seemed a good idea on a rainy day like this, and for once the plan came together. Devoting time to a colourless 'yellow wagtail' on the Great Pool and later among Meadow Pipits at Borough Farm delivered a crucial sound recording and an extensive set of images of what has now been established as a first-winter EASTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL. The bird exhibited a pale base to the lower mandible and showed not a hint of yellow on its entire plumage, as well as giving the all-important raspy call which I managed to capture on my iPhone (as my sound recorder had failed to charge). There was another (Western) Yellow Wagtail on the Great Pool which looked a good candidate for Grey-headed Wagtail to me but I'm not sure I'll be able to recover the images from my broken iPhone.

Eastern Yellow Wagtail at Borough Farm

The Great Pool and surrounds also held five Cattle Egrets, a Wood Sandpiper (possibly injured - hence the late date?), a Whooper Swan, a Yellow-browed Warbler, four WaterRails, seven Snipe and a loose group of four Grey Wagtails. 41 Gadwall, 11 Teal, Mute Swan, Buzzard and Stock Dove were trip ticks. Also noted on the island were five Black Redstarts, two Redstarts, several White Wagtails, two House Martins, four Swallows, a Greenshank, two Redshanks and a flock of 70 Linnets. The usual Red-legged Partridges were around and six Little Egrets were on nearby rocks.

Cattle Egrets near Pool Road

adult Whooper Swan on the Great Pool

Wood Sandpiper on the Great Pool

Back on St. Mary's, a twitch to the airfield succeeded with nice views of Richard's Pipit and Lapland Bunting. The juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit was still on Porthcressa beach, a Sandwich Tern was near the harbour and Lower Moors had 80 Swallows, two Water Rails and a Snipe.

Richard's Pipit on the golf course

Lapland Bunting on the golf course

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

St. Martin's and St. Mary's

Beautiful St. Martin's made for a delightful excursion, and paid off within the first hour with a fly-over Red-throated Pipit while I was hanging back from the others to answer the call of nature. We searched for an hour or two in the hope that it had come down but had no such luck. Three Black Redstarts, three Whinchats, two Siskins, a White Wagtail, four House Martins, five Skylarks, a Snipe, two Ravens, 45 Sanderlings, a Grey Plover, 92 Oystercatchers and three Greenshanks were among the other highlights during our visit.

Black Redstart at Little Arthur Farm

On St. Mary's, a redpoll flew up from beside our digs and Porthcressa held the juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit and a Wheatear.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

St. Agnes and St. Mary's

There was only one choice of island destination today and that was St. Agnes. At Porth Killier, the Greenish Warbler which had been found the previous day showed wonderfully and improved on my brief views of a Suffolk bird a few years ago. We watched a first-winter Red-backed Shrike do a few feeding circuits near the Nag's Head Rock and I jammed a brief view of the Wryneck opposite Grinlington Farm. A Yellow-browed Warbler and a Firecrest were in The Parsonage, to where the Greenish had a brief foray. While having a lunchtime drink at The Turk's Head, a Merlin dashed past us. Feeding in the channel was a Kittiwake and a couple of first-winter Mediterranean Gulls, while at least four Lesser Black-backed Gulls were knocking around.

Greenish Warbler at Porth Killier

1CY Red-backed Shrike near the Nag's Head Rock

Wryneck opposite Grinlington Farmhouse

We didn't do much birding on St. Mary's we caught up with the famously showy Merlin on a roof in town, as well as noting Wheatears on Porthcressa and Porthmellon.

Merlin in Hugh Town