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

Monday, 8 October 2018

Bryher and St. Mary's

Shortly after arriving on Bryher we were spending time in the close company of the extremely confiding TAWNY PIPIT behind Popplestone Bay as it busied itself just a few feet away. Scouring the island for migrants we came up with three Spotted Flycatchers,  and singles of Whinchat, Reed Bunting and Skylark, but little else. A Whimbrel, two Greenshanks and two Water Rails were logged. From the boat we counted eight Grey Herons between Bryher and Samson.

Tawny Pipit on Bryher

Spotted Flycatcher on Bryher

The little birding we did on St. Mary's featured a juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit on Porthcressa beach and a Sandwich Tern.

juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit on Porthcressa beach

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Penzance, Scillonian crossing and St. Mary's

Ian, Mag, Phil and I set off in the early hours to meet with the Scillonian II at Penzance, a day later than planned due to rough seas the previous day. A drake Eider in the harbour was a nice send off from the mainland but the crossing was quiet with just singles of Bonxie and Manx Shearwater featuring alongside the usual Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Guillemots and Gannets.

adult drake Eider at Penzance harbour

After a very quick drop-off at our digs up on St. Mary's at Buzza, we got straight into the birding, connecting with the Buff-breasted Sandpiper on the airfield (distantly with two Golden Plovers) then the first-winter Barred Warbler at the bay end of Porth Hellick. Two Yellow Wagtails dropped onto rooftops in Hugh Town and other bits logged during the day included two Water Rails, seven Greenshanks, eight Snipe, a Kingfisher and two House Martins.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper on the airfield

1CY Barred Warbler at Porth Hellick

Greenshank at Lower Moors

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Goring Gap and Ferring Rife

Movement over Goring Gap this morning included a Rock Pipit, a Reed Bunting, eight Siskins, 53 Chaffinches (a noticeable start-up of these), two Grey Wagtails, 55 Pied/White Wagtails, 32 Linnets, 14 Rooks, two Jackdaws, nine Swallows, 26 House Martins, a northbound Song Thrush and 61 Meadow Pipits. Offshore, three Dark-bellied Brent Geese, two Great Crested Grebes, five Sandwich Terns and 22 Gannets flew past. Five Mediterranean Gulls, an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull (intermedius-type) and four Common Gulls were around. On the beach were 16 Sanderlings, 33 Turnstones, 31 Ringed Plovers and six Little Egrets. The Treecreeper was still calling somewhere in the Plantation. 10 Skylarks, seven Chiffchaffs, a Goldcrest and a Song Thrush were also present, as well as singles of Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

A walk along part of Ferring Rife produced 11 Little Egrets, 32 House Martins, a Grey Wagtail, a Meadow Pipit, a Kestrel, a flyover Pied/White Wagtail, two Swallows, a Chiffchaff, a Goldcrest, a Moorhen and two Common Gulls. A Great Crested Grebe was on the sea.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Goring Gap

In thick fog, the beach finally hosted a decent wader this morning, with a juvenile Little Stint keeping company with two Dunlin, 32 Sanderlings, 35 Ringed Plovers and 25 Turnstones before being flushed by a metal detectorist. Two Golden Plovers dropped into the rost field. Overhead movement was hindered by the fog but by early afternoon a Rock Pipits - my second patch tick of the day - had flown west, while over vismig figures included 25 Meadow Pipits, 18 Pied/White Wagtails and two Rooks. On the ground was a male Stonechat, two Blackcaps, 13 Chiffchaffs, two Goldcrests, 13 Skylarks a Song Thrush, along with 20 Robins. The Treecreeper was heard in the Plantation and a Jackdaw flew over. A Wigeon and eight Teal alighted just off the beach, while offshore three Dark-bellied Brent Geese, six Common Scoters, 12 Gannets and 25 Cormorants flew past. 19 Little Egrets, 17 Oystercatchers, a 2CY Lesser Black-backed Gull and eight Mediterranean Gulls were also logged.

Little Stint
Dark-bellied Brent Geese

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Goring Gap

The sea was the busiest it's been since the spring, though that's not saying much. Five Dark-bellied Brent Geese, four Wigeon, a Teal and a Curlew moved west, while 23 Gannets flew past and a Sandwich Tern blogged. The favourable overcast conditions were blighted by overly breezy conditions for much vismig but a Yellow Wagtail, a Reed Bunting, three Linnets, 24 Meadow Pipits, 13 Siskins, five Swallows, a Chaffinch, five Swallows and 14 Pied/White Wagtails passed over. 10 Siskins were settled around Ilex Avenue and other grounded migrants were represented by 11 Chiffchaffs, two Blackcaps and small numbers of apparently freshly arrived Blackbirds and Robins. A flock of 13 Greenfinches behaved like a migrant group. A Kestrel was hunting near the pumping station. Four Skylarks were in the fields. On the beach, 13 Little Egrets, 17 Oystercatchers, 22 Ringed Plovers, 18 Turnstones and three Sanderlings were logged on the ebbing tide. A Mediterranean Gull and three Common Gulls were noted.

Teal and three Wigeon

1CY male continental-ish Blackbird



Monday, 1 October 2018

Goring Gap

Visible migration this morning included a Golden Plover, a Reed Bunting, 63 Pied/White Wagtails, 10 Siskins, 10 Linnets, 90 Meadow Pipits, two Grey Wagtails, 13 Swallows and a Rook. Grounded were nine Chiffchaffs, a Wheatear, a Blackcap and a Skylark. Movement offshore was limited to three Sandwich Terns, three Lesser Black-backed Gulls and two Gannets. Also around were two Mediterranean Gulls and 10 Common Gulls. 17 Little Egrets and 19 Oystercatchers were on the beach, along with two Dunlin and modest numbers of Sanderlings, Ringed Plovers and Turnstones.

female Stonechat 

Red Admiral