Sunday, 31 March 2019

Lyminster and West Worthing

A walk along my transects in Lyminster produced a Little Owl, two summer-plumaged Golden Plovers, 26 Lapwings, two Meadow Pipits, two Shelducks, two Little Egrets and singles of Cetti's Warbler, Reed Bunting, Treecreeper, Skylark, Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, etc.

At home in West Worthing, a Chiffchaff was in the garden and a Meadow Pipit flew over.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Rye Harbour

A good few hours spent at Rye Harbour with Gareth were full of good birds. We spent most of the time from the viewpoint at Castle Water, where a Bittern was booming at regular intervals but refused to show itself. A Bearded Tit briefly called but also remained unseen, while a pair of Marsh Harriers kept us entertained for much of the day. Other raptors included a pair of Peregrines, a Sparrowhawk and a Buzzard. Spring migrants were few and far between, with just a single Sand Martin, a Blackcap and a couple of Chiffchaffs.

To break up the Bittern stakeout we took a stroll over to the hide at the other end of Castle Water, and on our return we clocked a smart drake Ring-necked Duck in the company of a few Tufted Ducks and Pochards. There had been a report of a probable here yesterday but we hadn't thought too much about it as our main quarry was Bittern and Bearded Tit, though it certainly was a welcome bonus to our day's birding!

drake Ring-necked Duck on Castle Water

A Great White Egret, two Egyptian Geese, weed-dancing Great Crested Grebes, mating Oystercatchers, two Water Rails, a Kingfisher, a few Cetti's Warblers and Reed Buntings, a Snipe and a couple of Curlews were among our other observations. I counted 23 'sitting' Cormorants and one poor female Gadwall was hounded by 10 drakes.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Slindon Park and Goring Gap

Slindon Park made for a lovely walk this morning, with no fewer than nine Firecrests, a Siskin, a redpoll, seven Great Spotted Woodpeckers, three Green Woodpeckers, a Kestrel, two Marsh Tits, eight Coal Tits, three Blackcaps, six Chiffchaffs, four Goldcrests, five Nuthatches, two Treecreepers, a Mistle Thrush, nine Song Thrush, six Meadow Pipits and a Bullfinch, among 43 species logged.

A brief mid-afternoon watch at Goring Gap with special guest Ed produced two Common Scoters, four Gannets, four westbound Black-headed Gulls and a Great Crested Grebe. Chiffchaff and Skylark were in song and a Grey Seal was just offshore.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Goring Gap, Waltham Brooks SWT and Burton & Chingford Ponds LNR

All was quiet at Goring Gap first thing this morning, save for a seemingly new Reed Bunting calling at the seaward end of The Plantation. 12 Red-breasted Mergansers were on the sea but there was literally nothing else. On the beach were 36 Sanderlings, a Ringed Plover, nine Oystercatchers and 15 Turnstones. Two Linnets, a Meadow Pipit and a singing Skylark were also noted.

I cut my losses after an hour, heading to Waltham Brooks, where I joined Chris and Juliet in admiring a handsome - but sleepy - drake Garganey on the flood. Three Sand Martins flying over provided another year tick. A Cetti's Warbler, a Raven, a singing Treecreeper, a couple of Reed Buntings, a Bullfinch, a singing male Stonechat, a Water Rail, a Buzzard and three Meadow Pipits were among the other birds recorded.

drake Garganey at Waltham Brooks

A visit to Burton and Chingford Ponds produced a singing Firecrest, my first Blackcap of the year, six Little Egrets, a Water Rail, two drumming Great Spotted Woodpeckers, six Little Grebes, three Great Crested Grebes, 56 Tufted Ducks, two Treecreepers, three Nuthatches and six fly-over Meadow Pipits.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Ashdown Forest

On the way back down to Worthing today I stopped to bird the Ashdown Forest for a couple of hours, calling in at Old Lodge and Gills Lap. It was a little breezy but a nice day nonetheless, and I reluctantly slapped on some factor 30 for the first time this year, having got away without it for about a month later than usual!

Highlights included a close - but backlit - encounter with the Great Grey Shrike at Wren's Warren, singing Woodlark, Crossbill and Dartford Warbler, a few Siskins and redpolls, five Buzzards, three Kestrels, a pair of Bullfinches, a Red Kite and a couple of Treecreepers.

Great Grey Shrike at Wren's Warren

Friday, 22 March 2019

Goring Gap, Ferring Rife and Worthing

I was joined by Ralph Simpson at the Gap this morning. Movement was limited but included a nice flock of four Eider (one adult drake), 56 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, four Common Scoters, five Sandwich Terns, a Curlew, 31 Meadow Pipits, four Pied/White Wagtails and two Gannets. 27 Red-breasted Mergansers and five Great Crested Grebes were on the sea, while the beach held a Redshank, three Oystercatchers, a Grey Plover, 40 Sanderlings, 28 Turnstones, four Dunlin and a Little Egret. Seven Mediterranean Gulls and three Common Gulls were logged. Other birds included a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Green Woodpecker and a singing Skylark.

A walk up Ferring Rife and back down again produced two Water Rails, three Chiffchaffs, the singing male Reed Bunting, two of both Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Pheasant, two Mallards and 22 Moorhens. Five Skylarks were counted and a singing Coal Tit was notable for the site. An additional nine Dunlin were on the adjacent beach. I also logged 58 Meadow Pipits, a singing Song Thrush and a pair of Long-tailed Tits.

As I got through the door at home in West Worthing, a Meadow Pipit flew over the garden. Later, after dark, poking my head out revealed a steady stream of Redwings calling overhead.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Goring Gap and West Worthing

Meadow Pipits and Pied/White Wagtails were in evidence overhead again today, even more so in fact, with 59 and nine respectively. Three Wheatears arrived, including a female on the beach who was so reluctant to make the final hop to firm ground that she kept sitting tight till the tide rose to her belly and pushed her off. A female Stonechat was in the fenced area, three Chiffchaffs were singing and a Redwing might well be the last bird of the spring. Song Thrush is still thin on the ground so one was notable, the same applying for singles of Linnet and Goldcrest.

one of two male Wheatears

female Wheatear in the sea...

...she then hopped to the next rock as the tide flowed, and so on

Two Canada Geese which circled the Gap before heading north were by far the rarest bird for the site, though, and my first record there. A pair of Long-tailed Tits was still busy gathering nest-building material near the seaward end of The Plantation. A Green Woodpecker called while a Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed and four Skylarks were in the fields. Two Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew west, 10 Mediterranean Gulls and three Common Gulls were in the roost field and a juvenile Woodpigeon was seen. A Sparrowhawk dashed through and the beach held 25 Turnstones, 19 Sanderlings, three Grey Plovers, 12 Oystercatchers and four Dunlin. On the sea were four Great Crested Grebes and three Red-breasted Mergansers.

Canada Geese!

no wonder this Carrion Crow has such poor quality wing feathers...

female Greenfinch

At home in West Worthing, two Redwings were heard calling in the darkness.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Goring Gap, Ferring Rife and West Worthing

With a light and variable wind, it was a quiet morning offshore at the Gap, with a lone Great Crested Grebe the only bird noted. As the tide flowed, I counted the waders on the beach: 27 Sanderlings, four Dunlin, 26 Turnstones, two Grey Plovers and five Oystercatchers. 11 Mediterranean Gulls and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull were logged and a Jackdaw flew north. A Skylark and a Song Thrush were in voice, while a Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed briefly. There seemed to be a little something going on with Meadow Pipits and Pied/White Wagtails, with three and five, respectively, but no consistent directional movement.

Great Crested Grebe at Goring Gap

adult Lesser Black-backed Gull at Goring Gap

Ferring Rife had two showy Water Rails, a singing male Reed Bunting (giving the unpaired version), three singing Chiffchaffs, 23 Moorhens, two Pheasants, five Skylarks, two Green Woodpeckers, a trio of Long-tailed Tits, two Song Thrushes, three Meadow Pipits, a Linnet and three Pied/White Wagtails.

Water Rail at Ferring Rife

Back at home in West Worthing, a Meadow Pipit flew over.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Goring Gap, West Worthing and Newhaven

This morning's seawatch off Goring Gap wasn't too bad, with a Great Northern Diver making its way west, while two Mute Swans and two Sandwich Terns headed in the opposite direction. Backup came in the form of two Common Scoters, 45 Red-breasted Mergansers (mostly flying west), nine Great Crested Grebes, seven Gannets, two Mediterranean Gulls and nine Common Gulls. Six Meadow Pipits flew west and two Ringed Plovers and an Oystercatcher flew along the beach.

As I got through the door at home another Meadow Pipit called overhead.

I was getting some miscellaneous work done at home later when news came through of a Red-necked Grebe in Newhaven harbour. This is a species I hope I'll get at Goring this year but time's beginning to run a little short for the spring window of opportunity, so I dashed over there once I'd finished lunch. Alas, there was no sign of the bird, only five Great Crested Grebes, two Turnstones and an Oystercatcher.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Old Lodge

It was a far from ideal afternoon for a tour around this wonderful part of the Ashdown Forest but we did score singles of Woodlark and Crossbill.

Friday, 15 March 2019


First found by BLC [mum] on 6th March, there was positive news from the previous day but hours of occasionally glancing through the double-glazing in between watching telly on a lazy morning had drawn a blank by midday. My time was nearly up and I was packing my stuff up to head back to Worthing a dipper but there it was, the female Pheasant poking its way around my parents' garden - a true mega for the old home list. It continued to give stonking views on in the flowerbed and on the lawn until I really did have to head back to the coast. Top stuff.

female Pheasant

Tuesday, 12 March 2019


I made my way to George V Avenue this morning to see what Storm Gareth might produce but soon repositioned at Goring Gap were I managed to watch from the car reasonably comfortably. Gareth (non-storm version) showed up too. The highlight was my first Bonxie of the year, along with 14 Fulmars, five Kittiwakes, 60 eastbound Dark-bellied Brent Geese, eight Common Scoters, two Red-breasted Mergansers, 16 Gannets and an adult Mediterranean Gull.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Cissbury Ring

A morning ringing with Val and Mya. We had extra company with the Worthing Conservation Volunteers showing up mid-morning to help us manage the net rides, which we were very grateful for, and they were delighted to be shown Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit and Song Thrush in the hand. We also caught a migrant Chiffchaff with a pollen horn, while another was singing nearby. A Redwing was another decent catch. Observations while ringing included singles of Firecrest, Mediterranean Gull, Red Kite, Raven, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Meadow Pipit and Buzzard, as well as two Yellowhammers, six Bullfinches, three Skylarks and a further dozen Redwings

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Goring Gap

In an hour of observation this morning, 75 Dark-bellied Brent Geese made their way east offshore, in two flocks of 20 and another of 35. A lone bird headed the other way. Also moving west was a Fulmar and a Great Crested Grebe. Five Red-breasted Mergansers flew east and two Gannets passed. Seven Mediterranean Gulls and two 2CY Common Gulls were floating around.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Goring Gap, Brooklands Pleasure Park and Cuckmere Haven

Goring Gap was quiet this morning, save for three fly-over Siskins. There was barely anything offshore: a Kittiwake, three Gannets and four Red-breasted Mergansers. 14 Mediterranean Gulls included a yellow-ringed adult but I was unable to get the full code. The male Reed Bunting was still singing and now looks as though it's intent on holding territory, and a Meadow Pipit was still present. Waders on the beach included 17 Turnstones, nine Sanderlings and 20 Dunlin.

Brooklands Pleasure Park had three Firecrests affording excellent views near the stream, where a Cetti's Warbler called briefly. 10 Teal and two Little Grebes were on the lake and a Chiffchaff was in song. A Siskin flew over.

Firecrest at Brooklands Pleasure Park

Ingrid and I popped in to Cuckmere Haven later on, where we got nice views of the Glossy Ibis on the north side of the road before it was spooked by two sparring Peregrines.

Glossy Ibis at Cuckmere Haven

Monday, 4 March 2019

Goring Gap

A short visit this morning produced three Dark-bellied Brent Geese (two westbound and another lingering), two Common Scoters, 15 Red-breasted Mergansers, 10 Mediterranean Gulls (seven 2CYs), 19 Turnstones, 13 Sanderlings, a Song Thrush (still notable currently) and a singing Skylark.

adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose

Sunday, 3 March 2019


I gave it an hour from George V Avenue, where six Gadwall flying west together over the beach was the highlight, along with two Red-throated Divers, two Common Scoters, 12 Gannets, six Great Crested Grebes, 11 Red-breasted Mergansers and a 2CY Common Gull.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Goring Gap and Ferring Rife

A flock of 80 Dark-bellied Brent Geese moved east high over the sea this morning and Mediterranean Gull numbers rose to 17 birds, including five 2CYs and three 3CYs. Two adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 95 Common Gulls also dropped into the roost field. The territorial male Reed Bunting was in voice again and a Meadow Pipit was present. On the beach were 58 Sanderlings but just 12 Grey Plovers, three Turnstones and six Dunlin. Five Great Crested Grebes were on the sea.

Ferring Rife had a female Sparrowhawk, a singing Goldcrest, a Little Egret, a flyover Rook, 14 Moorhens and a Green Woodpecker. Two Jays were paired up and a Magpie gathered nesting material.
Starling at Ferring Rife

While stopping off briefly in Goring late morning, a Grey Wagtail flew over.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Cuckmere Haven

I eventually secured the Glossy Ibis and a bonus Spoonbill at Cuckmere Haven today, thanks to Gareth and Max. Other stuff noted included two Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 90 Wigeon, a Red-legged Partridge singing, a Raven, five Little Egrets, two Curlews, two Oystercatchers, two adult Mediterranean Gulls, two Rock Pipits, 400 Common Gulls, three Skylarks, a Kestrel, three Stonechats (including two singing males), two Reed Buntings and 23 Meadow Pipits.

Glossy Ibis