Sunday, 28 January 2018

Belmont and Canons Farm

It was a slow start to the day, back at my parents' place in Belmont, getting some work done before I headed out. A drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker in the garden livened things up, though. I headed out to Canons Farm in the late afternoon - I've not managed to return here recently as much as I would like to - and met up briefly with Ian M. 17 Rooks flew from Broadfield, four Little Owls were calling and 25 Fieldfares roamed the fields but little else was logged.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Beddington Farmlands

I ran one final twitch for the Twite in the morning, which thankfully showed to all attendees, who seemed to enjoy their visit. A Dartford Warbler along the fence line on the landfill site was a welcome and unexpected bonus for everybody, and a second-winter Caspian Gull was on the North Lake when I scanned through the larids before people started arriving. Nine Pochards were also on the North Lake and 34 Lapwings were counted, along with a Snipe. Also around were two Wigeon, two Shelducks, an Egyptian Goose, five Meadow Pipits, four Reed Buntings, three Cetti's Warblers and four Skylarks of note.

2nd-winter Caspian Gull

Friday, 26 January 2018

Nonsuch Park

I was meant to be ringing Coots in London with Bill H in the morning but I underestimated how early I would have to get up in order to get there from Worthing. I regretfully aborted the idea when I was only in Kingston and already half an hour late but took the opportunity to pop into old local patch, Nonsuch Park. I was joined for a while later in the visit by Christian C. A Red Kite was my first site record, while signs of spring included drumming Great Spotted Woodpeckers and singing Coal Tit and Mistle Thrush.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Staines Reservoir

Third time lucky with the 'AMERICAN HORNED LARK' at Staines Reservoir, the bird feeding at close quarters on the south side of the causeway but the violent wind ensured neither I nor Ian J stuck around for very long. One Goldeneye flew past us.

'American Horned Lark'

Monday, 22 January 2018

Oldean Common

Having failed so badly with the London area Parrot Crossbills, I thought I'd have a go for the VC17 birds, which split their time between the Berkshire and 'right' sides of the border. Heading to Oldean Common with Phil W, we did get the flock of 16 Parrot Crossbills but only really managing flight views, though it helped that they were very vocal as they passed over. A valuable Surrey tick... Other sightings there included six Hawfinches, at least three Dartford Warblers, a Red Kite, a couple of redpolls and Siskins, and a Stonechat.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Broxbourne Woods and Walthamstow Wetlands

For the third time, Kevin and I visited Broxbourne Woods and dipped the Parrot Crossbills. We've both had enough of this venture now and have vowed never to return to the site. A male Hawfinch brightened the morning up but otherwise the only bird of note was a fly-over Siskin. Later, we popped in to 'Walthamstow Wetlands', eventually getting brief but satisfactory views of the Little Bunting, a London tick for me and only my second decent view of the species anywhere. In the same vicinity were four Reed Buntings and a Cetti's Warbler.

While opening the site up to the public in a controlled manner might be a good idea overall, it was frustrating to see the extreme levels of disturbance as the public jogged around the reservoir banks. It really beggars belief that this level of access has been allowed at such an important site for wintering wildfowl, while the whole situation is bound to be a great frustration for local patchers hoping to find migrant waders on the shores of the reservoirs.

Little Bunting at Walthamstow Wetlands

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Beddington Farmlands and Sutton

This morning I escorted 17 birders to see the colour-ringed adult male Twite which has been around the landfill site at Beddington for nearly two months now. It was a bit of a tense morning - for me at least, feeling a little pressure - and a wet and cold one at that. Thankfully, almost everybody saw the bird at least reasonably well, with those sticking it out till midday enjoying excellent prolonged scope views. I also noted five Tree Sparrows, seven Reed Buntings, a male Stonechat, seven Skylarks, two Meadow Pipits, two Snipe, 34 Lapwings, two Egyptian Geese, four Shelducks, 32 Gadwall, 48 Teal, 17 Shovelers, 15 Tufted Ducks, a Cormorant, 11 Mute Swans, 10 Grey Herons, two Little Grebes, three Redwings, 10 Pied Wagtails and 70 Linnets.

I popped round to visit Phil in the afternoon, a Sparrowhawk dashing through his Sutton garden and two Coal Tits visiting the feeders.

colour-ringed adult male Twite - look at that rump!

Friday, 19 January 2018

Leith Hill, Carshalton Ponds and Beddington Farmlands

A fine morning spent on Leith Hill with Christian C and Linda M featured a Woodlark and a Woodcock of note. Other than a small number of Siskins, the site was sadly devoid of any of its usual 'good' finches. On the way to Beddington to show David D-L around, I clocked two Egyptian Geese at Carshalton Ponds. Teaming up with David, and with the pleasant surprise of bumping into Koje, we scoured the side of the landfill for the Twite - as much to reassure myself of its continued presence ahead of tomorrow's organised twitch as for David to see it - and just as we were losing hope it flew high over our heads, calling. Otherwise, three Snipe, a Shelduck and a Meadow Pipit were the only birds of particular note.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Goring and Pulborough Brooks RSPB

Nothing was moving on the sea this morning but 13 Red-breasted Mergansers and a Great Crested Grebe were noted. 10 Mediterranean Gulls were in the roost field, along with 295 Dunlin, 35 Ringed Plovers, five Grey Plovers, eight Turnstones and 27 Sanderlings at high tide. The lone male Stonechat was still in the northwest corner of the Gap, along with a female Blackcap. Five Skylarks were in the fields, a Kestrel hunted and a Grey Wagtail flew over.

I felt adventurous in the afternoon so ventured to Pulborough Brooks RSPB for a short while, managing distant views of the wintering Temminck's Stint, along with an Avocet, 10 Ruff, eight Dunlin, perhaps 400 Black-tailed Godwits and hordes of Pintail, Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler of note. I also logged a Water Rail, a Yellowhammer and a redpoll.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018


A short seawatch off Goring this morning produced six Dark-bellied Brent Geese, nine Red-breasted Mergansers, 12 Red-throated Divers, two Gannets, three Great Crested Grebes and an auk sp. Two Redshanks were along the shore and all of the daily wader species were present, including, in the roost field at high tide, 425 Dunlin, 45 Ringed Plovers, nine Sanderlings and nine Grey Plovers. I logged five adult Mediterranean Gulls among a gathering of 340 Common Gulls in the field, where there were also two Skylarks.

A quick walk along Ferring Rife revealed the two Stonechats, a Water Rail, a Little Egret, a Grey Heron, two Green Woodpeckers, two Moorhens, a Skylark and a Redwing of note.

Redshank at Goring

Monday, 15 January 2018


A visit inspired by Ingrid's desire to see Curlews was cut short by horrid weather but we did see a handful of Turnstones and Sanderlings on the beach by the river mouth.

Sunday, 14 January 2018


1.5 hours of seawatching this morning produced a pair of westbound Velvet Scoters, 30 Red-throated Divers, 21 Red-breasted Mergansers, nine Dark-bellied Brent Geese, six Gannets, a Kittiwake, four Great Crested Grebes, four Razorbills and 12 very distant auks. Other than 22 Ringed Plovers, the high tide wader roost didn't really materialise for some reason or other but seven Mediterranean Gulls were strewn among the loafing gulls: four adults, two second-winters and - most interestingly - a first-winter bearing a white darvic ring on its left leg with the black code '332H'. Thanks to information from Camille Duponcheel, the bird was ringed as a pullus at Anterwerpen, Belgium, on 17th June last year. Sanderlings, Dunlin, Turnstones and Grey Plovers were present but not fully counted. The improving conditions encouraged a Buzzard to soar over the area and other sightings included a Chiffchaff, one of the wintering Stonechats, five Skylarks and a Kestrel. Last but not least, I finally logged a patch Jackdaw - heard calling beyond the north side of the Gap.

2cy Mediterranean Gull '332H'

Friday, 12 January 2018


Red-breasted Mergansers and Great Crested Grebes increased slightly this morning, with 32 and 14 noted respectively. Otherwise, there was little action at sea other than five Red-throated Divers (including three settled quite close in), a Razorbill and a flock of 21 Dark-bellied Brent Geese. Waders included 50 Grey Plovers, 26 Ringed Plovers, a Redshank, 90 Sanderlings, 180 Dunlin, 81 Turnstones and 64 Oystercatchers. 12 Mediterranean Gulls (10 adults and two second-winters) were in the fields. A Kestrel was my first for Goring Gap, all three wintering Stonechats remained and other sightings included a Skylark, a Fieldfare, 11 Redwings, 25 Pied Wagtails, two Green Woodpeckers and 20 Greenfinches.

Ferring Rife added a Buzzard (patch tick), two more Stonechats, 10 Meadow Pipits, a Skylark, a Little Egret, two Grey Herons, three Moorhens, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and two Grey Wagtails - one, I reckon an adult female, was bearing a BTO ring but despite trying to photograph it from many angles I don't think I got the full code, though there are definitely two '4's! I do wonder where it was ringed...

adult female Grey Wagtail with BTO ring
Red-throated Divers
2nd-winter Mediterranean Gull

Thursday, 11 January 2018


The clear highlight of the day's patch birding was an energetic male Firecrest feeding on the edge of the holm oaks on Ilex Avenue, a site first for me. Just over an hour of seawatching - joined for a while by Gareth J - produced 53 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, three Common Scoters, 19 Red-breasted Mergansers, six Great Crested Grebes, seven Red-throated Divers, two Razorbills and seven distant auks. 13 adult Mediterranean Gulls were in the fields and towards dusk in excess of 2,500 Common Gulls roosted on the sea. Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, Grey Plovers, Sanderlings, Turnstones and Oystercatchers were all present but not fully counted today. Other birds included two Fieldfares, 11 Redwings, seven Skylarks, a Moorhen, a Green Woodpecker, three Great Spotted Woodpeckers (including two in a drumming contest, giving a slight spring-like feeling!) and 19 Greenfinches. A cursory look at the lower part of Ferring Rife produced just another Green Woodpecker to add of any note.

♂ Firecrest

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Arundel WWT

A lovely stroll around Arundel WWT in the early afternoon with Ingrid was made all the better by seven Hawfinches and a very showy Firecrest.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Canons Farm and Beddington Farmlands

A stroll around Canons this morning was fairly uneventful, save for a flock of 18 Skylarks, a Mistle Thrush, two Meadow Pipits and a modest mixed flock of Redwings and Fieldfares.

In the afternoon I joined Kojak in the hide at Beddington, picking out two Caspian Gulls (a first-winter and a second-winter) and a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull. Roy W later turned up for another go at the Twite and, thank goodness, we located it with the 60-strong Linnet flock, albeit briefly. Seven Snipe and 52 Lapwings were present, along with three Shelducks, three Egyptian Geese, 45 Shovelers and four Pochards. Other bits included a good count of 52 Lapwings, a Chiffchaff, two Reed Buntings and a Cetti's Warbler.

Twite at Beddington
second-winter Caspian Gull at Beddington
first-winter Caspian Gull at Beddington
first-winter Yellow-legged Gull at Beddington

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Beddington Farmlands

An afternoon search for the Twite with Christian C and Roy W wasn't successful but the wind didn't help. Sightings included a few Snipe, 20 Lapwings, a Meadow Pipit and a couple of Reed Buntings...

Lee Valley

I was back at Seventy Acres Lake for a dawn survey, noting a female Brambling, 12 Egyptian Geese, four Water Rails, plus a few redpolls and Siskins.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Lee Valley

Highlights of my dusk survey at Seventy Acres Lake included a couple of Water Rails, nine Egyptian Geese, a Kingfisher and a few Siskins.

Broxbourne Woods

Kevin and I had another stab at the Parrot Crossbills in Broxbourne Woods but unfortunately we went home empty handed once again... It was nice, however, to see a couple of Hawfinches fly over the site.

Friday, 5 January 2018


This particular patch visit was enlivened by the company of Ian J, down from Surrey to check out my new stomping grounds. We started with a seawatch, which produced a Velvet Scoter, six Pintails, two Mute Swans, a Dark-bellied Brent Goose, two Red-throated Divers, six Great Crested Grebes, 11 Gannets and 14 Red-breasted Mergansers. Small numbers of Turnstones, Sanderlings and Oystercatchers were along the shore, though we didn't manage meaningful counts of these species. Later, in the roost field at high tide were 330 Dunlin and 73 Ringed Plovers, while four adult Mediterranean Gulls were in the area. Other sightings at Goring Gap included the wintering Stonechat pair, a Fieldfare, a Redwing, four Skylarks, a Green Woodpecker and a Grey Heron.

A quick walk up and down Ferring Rife added two Grey Herons, three Moorhens, a Kestrel, a Redwing and a Green Woodpecker.

Thursday, 4 January 2018


Poor visibility made seawatching even more challenging today, although clearly very few birds were offshore anyway. All I noted was two Great Crested Grebes and eight Red-breasted Mergansers. At high tide, the roost field contained 234 Dunlin, 17 Ringed Plovers and 16 Sanderlings, these scattered at one point by a 2cy Peregrine. Four adult Mediterranean Gulls were in the area. One of the male Stonechats was seen, along with two Skylarks.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018


Wind and rain continued to make birding a struggle, even the sea remaining relatively lifeless. Six Common Scoters flew east and two Red-throated Divers, 15 Red-breasted Mergansers, five Kittiwakes, a Gannet and an auk sp were noted. A mass of 820 Common Gulls was the highlight of the day and six adult Mediterranean Gulls were around. The roost field contained 424 Dunlin, 42 Ringed Plovers and five Sanderlings at high tide, while 28 Turnstones were between there and the shore, where the sea was spilling onto the coastal path. All three wintering Stonechats were noted and a Moorhen was also present.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018


Conditions were offputting again today but I managed more of a purposeful visit. A flock of 10 Pintail was the highlight at sea, where other highlights included 15 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, a Fulmar, a Common Scoter, eight Gannets, 18 Red-throated Divers, 21 Red-breasted Mergansers, five Kittiwakes and a Great Crested Grebe. At high tide, a surprising number of Sanderlings sought respite in the roost field, 210 birds; with them were 387 Dunlin, 16 Grey Plovers, 19 Turnstones and 16 Ringed Plovers. An adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose was feeding in the roost field and four Mediterranean Gulls were counted. The wintering pair of Stonechats were out and about while the Treecreeper was still in the Plantation.

Monday, 1 January 2018


My plans to get out and blitz the new patch for New Year's Day were variously scuppered, mainly by the weather, and my coverage amounted to a short seawatch and a high tide wader count. The sea produced a couple of nice surprises, namely two westbound Bonxies and a Fulmar. Other bits included 11 Red-throated Divers, six Red-breasted Mergansers, 22 Gannets and 26 Kittiwakes. At high tide, 230 Dunlin, 57 Ringed Plovers, 10 Grey Plovers and 25 Sanderlings arrived in the roost field.