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.