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Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Goring Gap

I put in almost 3.5 hours scanning the waves this morning. With a strong onshore wind, together with rain towards the end, there were few options for shelter and viewing was a challenge. I managed a few highlights, however, including a Little Tern close inshore, two Kittiwakes, two Bar-tailed Godwits, two Fulmars and three Common Scoters passing. 67 Gannets, three juvenile Mediterranean Gulls and six Sandwich Terns were also logged. A Little Egret and an Oystercatcher were on the beach.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Cissbury Ring and Adur Estuary

A morning ringing with Val, Mya, Sue and John saw a Garden Warbler, three Whitethroats, a Treecreeper and small numbers of Willow Warblers, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs trapped and ringed. My first local migrant Meadow Pipit of the autumn flew over, a couple of Yellowhammers were singing and Bullfinches were vocal in the bushes. Two loud Ravens, three Buzzards and a Kestrel were seen. A Pied Wagtail, singles of Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker, two Skylarks and a handful of Linnets were among the other birds logged.

Garden Warbler at Cissbury Ring

Treecreeper at Cissbury Ring

Willow Warbler at Cissbury Ring

Later on, a short stop at the Adur Estuary produced a Common Sandpiper, two Oystercatchers, four Little Egrets, 14 adult Mute Swans, two Swallows, a Skylark, four Cormorants and a Linnet.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Adur Estuary

A very rushed scan of the Adur from the tollbridge this evening revealed a Common Sandpiper, two Oystercatchers and five Little Egrets.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Adur Estuary and Pulborough Brooks RSPB

In the drizzle early this morning, just before high tide, I had another quick look at the Adur from the toll bridge. A group of five Common Sandpipers were feeding on the bank, along with two adult Dunlin. An Oystercatcher flew over and 17 adult Mute Swans completed the scene. A Sand Martin flew over, while a Swallow hawked low over the adjacent airfield. (Calling in again briefly in the evening, Common Sandpipers increased to seven, and six Little Egrets were fishing.)

Common Sandpipers on the Adur Estuary

It was meant to be the annual butterfly walk back at my old patch in Surrey but this was clearly not going ahead, given the constant rain, so I made for Pulborough Brooks in the hope that the rain may have deposited from new waders. Some 13 Green Sandpipers shared the North Brooks with a Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper, three Black-tailed Godwits, two juvenile Little Ringed Plovers and 26 Lapwings. Skimming the water's surface were 30 or so hirundines, mainly Sand Martins, but with a few House Martins and one or two Swallows mixed in. Ducks included four Gadwall, 18 Teal, two Mandarins and 11 Shovelers. Two Stonechats stationed themselves on tall vegetation further back and seven Pied Wagtails flicked around the edges.

The conditions were far from ideal for looking for small birds but I spent a few minutes watching a lovely family of Bullfinches, both parents and three juveniles. Other passerines included a Willow Warbler, three of both Whitethroat and Blackcap, two Goldcrests, five Chiffchaffs and singles of Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Coal Tit. From their posts, a Buzzard and a Kestrel watched over the meadows. Two Green Woodpeckers and a Great Spotted Woodpecker announced themselves noisily.

Friday, 26 July 2019

Ashburnham Place, Horse Eye Level and Adur Estuary

The morning was spent with Christian, him showing me the grounds of his beautiful new workplace, Ashburnham Place. Two Firecrests, a Kingfisher, four House Martins, four Marsh Tits, a Buzzard, a Sparrowhawk, a Siskin, two Grey Wagtails, five Pied Wagtails, six Swallows and a couple of Green Woodpeckers were the best, alongside a healthy scattering of Treecreepers, Bullfinches, Nuthatches, Goldcrests, Coal Tits, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps.

As I was in the area, I stopped off to look for last week's reported Red-backed Shrike again on the levels north of Rickney. This time I made it to the correct area, and I gave it a reasonable amount of time, but there was no sign of any shrike. Two Ravens displaced a Peregrine from one of the pylons, while 15 Cormorants were sat atop a neighbouring pylon. Eight Meadow Pipits, three Reed Warblers, four Buzzards, a Whitethroat and a Kestrel were also seen.

As I was driving home, in the slow traffic along the A27 I spotted a large wader on the Adur just below the bridge. I couldn't resist stopping off and it turned out to be a lovely adult Black-tailed Godwit. A Whimbrel was more distant, and other birds included three Little Egrets, 15 adult Mute Swans, two Oystercatchers, a Pied Wagtail and two Swallows.

Black-tailed Godwit on Adur Estuary

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Goring Gap, Adur Estuary, Botolphs, Coombes and Brooklands Pleasure Park

A partial walk of Goring Gap this morning produced a juvenile Sedge Warbler, a Grey Wagtail, five Swallows, a Ringed Plover, three Swifts, a Coal Tit, two Green Woodpeckers, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, three Turnstones, a Sandwich Tern, four Skylarks, a Blackcap and two Whitethroats.

My next stop was the Adur Estuary, where from the toll bridge I at last located a couple of waders: a Common Sandpiper and a Dunlin. Two adult Mediterranean Gulls, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, five Swallows, seven House Martins, a Little Egret, 12 Mute Swans, a Pied Wagtail and a Linnet were also logged.

I was curious to check out a couple of spots further upriver. Botolphs had little other than two Treecreepers, a Little Egret, a Buzzard, two Song Thrushes and singles of Mute Swan, Whitethroat, Skylark, Pied Wagtail and Green Woodpecker, but I made a mental note that the surrounding paddocks looked promising.

The Adur itself once again looked very appealing at Coombes, where four Grey Herons, a Little Egret and good numbers of gulls were gathered on the mud. An adult Peregrine was training a youngster up above and 20 House Martins were visible on Lancing College, with some visiting the river with a Swallow. Three Swifts and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were also noted.

adult male Peregrine over Coombes

Brooklands Pleasure Park had a reasonable number of gulls, with three juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls in the ranks, along with a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls. A Common Sandpiper showed well on the main island, a House Martin flew over and two Goldcrests were along the stream. Three Cormorants and the usual family of Mute Swans were present too.

Common Sandpiper at Brooklands Pleasure Park

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull at Brooklands Pleasure Park

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull at Brooklands Pleasure Park

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Knepp Estate, Hailsham and Rickney

After a bright and warm start to my and Darragh's visit to Knepp, the skies drew in and the temperature dropped. However, we did glimpse a couple of Purple Emperors, as well as a Brown Hairstreak and a few Purple Hairstreaks. Birds included a family of three Turtle Doves, a Kingfisher, a Red Kite, a Yellowhammer, two Mistle Thrushes, a Reed Warbler, a Grey Heron, two Great Crested Grebes and a scattering of Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Bullfinches and Treecreepers, etc.

juvenile Turtle Dove at Knepp Wildlands



Just when we were wondering how to spend the last few hours of the afternoon, news emerged of a Red-backed Shrike near Hailsham so I left Darragh to continue the quest for butterflies and shot off for East Sussex without much thought. Once on site, it became clear that I might well not in fact be on site... I realised that the directions were in fact extremely vague and the bird could theoretically have been at any point miles along Hurst Haven. I tried the Hailsham end, logging Cetti's Warbler, Reed Bunting, two House Martins, a Treecreeper, two Swallows and a Sparrowhawk, before deciding the bird was most probably actually seen at the opposite end of the haven. A 15-minute drive later, I only had half-an-hour to spare but checked what habitat I could, coming up with a Lesser Whitethroat, seven Swallows, a Reed Bunting and three Meadow Pipits but again no shrike.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Goring Gap

A 3.5-hour watch from the block produced a Bonxie, two Common Scoters, four Teal, two Common Terns, two adult Common Gulls, three Turnstones, 36 Gannets, 42 Sandwich Terns and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull. Four Little Egrets and 150 Starlings were on the beach.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Goring Gap, Brooklands Pleasure Park and Adur Estuary

Goring Gap first thing was almost immediately written off by grotty weather, with just two Mediterranean Gulls (adult and juvenile), two Little Egrets, two Sandwich Terns and an Oystercatcher noted before then.

Brooklands Pleasure Park had two juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls among the small number of Larids present. An adult Mediterranean Gull and three Lesser Black-backed Gulls were also present, along with the usual Mute Swan family. A Goldcrest was still feeding juveniles by the stream, where a Green Woodpecker yaffled.

Yellow-legged Gull at Brooklands Pleasure Park (bird 1)

Yellow-legged Gull at Brooklands Pleasure Park (bird 2)

Yellow-legged Gull at Brooklands Pleasure Park (bird 2)

Yellow-legged Gull at Brooklands Pleasure Park (bird 2)

Five minutes scanning the Adur Estuary from the toll bridge produced four Oystercatchers, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Little Egret and eight Mute Swans.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Steep Down and West Worthing

A long to-do list sapped most of my inspiration this morning so I ended up just having a short walk at Steep Down, enjoying the songs of Corn Buntings and Skylarks. 17 Linnets and eight Meadow Pipits were present. Two Swallows were visible in the distance, the hedges were busy with Whitethroats. I flushed a pair of Buzzards off some roadkill on the way out, and crossed my fingers that a lorry wouldn't come the other way as one of the birds took off low with the carcass and struggled to gain height. Fortunately it met nothing oncoming!

Walking back from the shops mid-afternoon, I discovered where my local Swifts are nesting, seeing perhaps 20 birds dashing low around a parallel street and some birds entering nest holes or alighting on the edge of eaves. In the evening, an adult Mediterranean Gull flew over the garden.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Pett Level, Pannel Valley NR and Adur Estuary

I eventually made it over to East Sussex this morning after battling through the usual traffic. An initial scan over Pett Level revealed a family of Marsh Harriers, three Whimbrel keeping just out of a flock of 53 Curlew and a couple of Common Terns. But best of all was a Common Sandpiper. My first of the year no less - I'm not quite sure how I managed not to see one for so long. Most of the Aythya ducks were hanging out on the eastern pool, so I spent a good while scanning through the ensemble, made up of Pochard, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Teal and Gadwall, all in alternate plumage. One more scan, however, and almost to my surprise there was the reported FERRUGINOUS DUCK in all its glory. It was distant, and was mostly sleeping, but it was a fine, pure drake. As I moved on, nine Sand Martins and a couple of Swifts flew through.

drake Ferruginous Duck at Pett Level

Feeling somewhat elevated, I set out along the canal at the west end towards the enigmatic Pannel Valley Nature Reserve, encountering a Lesser Whitethroat and a handful of Sedge and Reed Warblers along the way, plus a flyover Raven. It is years since my last visit here, due as much to an - I suppose - unfounded sense that visitors are not particularly welcome, as the testing journey. I entered the first hide and quickly picked up the beautiful adult Curlew Sandpiper feeding opposite, as well as three Little Ringed Plovers (including a juvenile). Another birder joined me briefly before trying the other hide. After a few minutes, I followed him over and he gave me the inevitable news that the Pectoral Sandpiper had just shown for him before flying back towards the hide I'd just left. Without wanting to start to merry dance to and fro, I opted to stay put, enjoying establishing the presence of three Greenshanks and eight Black-tailed Godwits. Thankfully, soon the Pec appeared in flight and touched down for a few seconds to our left before settling on the far side, where it was dwarfed by a moulting male Ruff.

Lesser Whitethroat at Pett Level
Curlew Sandpiper at Pannel Valley NR

Pectoral Sandpiper at Pannel Valley NR

After walking back and taking a few minutes for lunch, I called back at Pett Pools for another look at the 'Fudge'. It was nowhere to be seen, and was presumably still in the reeds at the back, where it had drifted when I left it earlier. After hearing several earlier in the day (and at Rye in the early spring), though, I was glad to finally lay eyes on a male Bearded Tit as it flew over the vegetation. Two Common Gulls, an adult and a 2cy, were my first of the season, and six Sandwich Terns flew over.

On the way home, to break the monotony of the rush hour traffic I pulled off to have a quick scan of the Adur. I barely added to what I'd seen from the A27, with three Little Egrets and a count of 12 Mute Swans the most noteworthy sightings.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Goring Gap, Adur Estuary and West Worthing

I only gave it half-an-hour or so at Goring Gap first thing, and indeed it felt quiet but I did record the first Grey Wagtail, Redshank and two Swallows of the autumn, along with 78 Gannets, two Sandwich Terns, three Swifts and two Mediterranean Gulls (one juvenile).

A very quick stop at the toll bridge overlooking the Adur Estuary produced little other than two Little Egrets, nine Mute Swans, two Oystercatchers, a Sparrowhawk, a Skylark, a Linnet and two Pied Wagtails.

While sitting in the garden having dinner early evening, at least two Mediterranean Gulls hawked overhead with Black-headed Gulls.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Brooklands Pleasure Park

I almost didn't end up birding at all today but couldn't resist popping in to Brooklands Pleasure Park mid-afternoon for a quick look through the gulls. Lo and behold there was a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, as well as a 2cy Mediterranean Gull, two adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls and increased numbers of fledged Herring Gulls. A Goldcrest was busy feeding two young. Two Green Woodpeckers, including a juvenile, were by the stream. Mallard broods of nine and 11 were present, and the pair of Mute Swans with their four juveniles were also on show.

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull

juvenile Green Woodpecker

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Goring Gap, Adur Estuary and Brooklands Pleasure Park

The first Willow Warbler of the autumn called at the seaward end of the Plantation, where the Treecreeper also announced itself. A (the?) juvenile Yellow-legged Gull lingered offshore. Two Dunlin and a pair of Common Scoter flew east, while 64 Gannets also flew past. Five Mediterranean Gulls and six Little Egrets were seen, and 120 Woodpigeons flocked in the fields. A short walk produced three Whitethroats and a Blackcap.

A scan of the Adur Estuary from the toll bridge revealed two Avocets - an adult and a juvenile - along with an Oystercatcher, two Little Egrets, a 3cy Mediterranean Gull, a House Martin and a Kestrel. Juvenile Herring and Black-headed Gulls were present.


Avocets (juvenile left) on the Adur Estuary

Late afternoon I called in to Brooklands Pleasure Park. An adult Yellow-legged Gull was the main feature - I was looking for juveniles but a local adult is a far rarer treat so I spent a fair while enjoying this mighty bird. Also present were a Little Grebe, a Little Egret, a 3cy Mediterranean Gull, three adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Tufted Duck, a House Martin, two Swifts, a couple of Goldcrests and three fledged Herring Gulls. A female Mallard had a brood of nine young ducklings and a Coot pair had three youngsters. Four young Mute Swans with a lone adult are now full juveniles.

adult Yellow-legged Gull at Brooklands Pleasure Park

Mallards at Brooklands Pleasure Park

Mute Swans at Brooklands Pleasure Park

Monday, 8 July 2019

Goring Gap, Pulborough Brooks RSPB, Warnham LNR and Ifield Mill Pond

Goring Gap first thing produced another juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, this one flying east offshore. Gannets increased, with 51 past during my hour's vigil, along with seven Mediterranean Gulls and 30 Sandwich Terns (including several juveniles following their parents).

adult and juvenile Sandwich Terns at Goring Gap

The rest of the day was just brilliant, spent in the company of my oldest birding friend Phil. We spent seven hours at Pulborough Brooks, notching up 63 species. We enjoyed a couple of incredibly exciting encounters in the first half-hour, with a recently fledged juvenile Cuckoo being fed by its Dunnock parents being followed by an adult male Peregrine tucking in to a juvenile Green Woodpecker it had just caught (we later saw the rest of the family in the same tree!). I was really hoping for waders, and was pleased enough with four Green Sandpipers, 60 Black-tailed Godwits, six Avocets, four Little Ringed Plovers, two Dunlin and 21 Lapwings. Four adult Mediterranean Gulls sailed silently overhead and a family party of Egyptian Geese on the North Brooks included five young. A Mandarin, 11 Sand Martins and 12 Teal were also at the North Brooks and further raptors included a Red Kite, four Buzzards and two Kestrels. A Lesser Whitethroat sang by the Hanger Viewpoint and other birds included a Grey Wagtail, seven Pied Wagtails, four Reed Buntings, six Swallows and a handful of Treecreepers and Nuthatches.

juvenile Cuckoo with Dunnock 'foster parent' at Pulborough Brooks RSPB

juvenile Cuckoo at Pulborough Brooks RSPB

Black-tailed Godwits at Pulborough Brooks RSPB

adult male Peregrine with juvenile Green Woodpecker at Pulborough Brooks RSPB

Warnham LNR was visited on a whim in the mid-afternoon. Here we enjoyed a male Kingfisher, eight Common Terns (including two juveniles, though one seemed stuck outside the raft), a Little Grebe, two Great Crested Grebes, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Mandarin, two Treecreepers, a House Martin and a Reed Warbler.

male Kingfisher at Warnham LNR

Mandarin at Warnham LNR

On a further whim we stopped briefly at Ifield Mill Pond, where the best on offer included three Great Crested Grebes (a pair and a full-grown juvenile), a Grey Wagtail, four House Martins and a Nuthatch.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Goring Gap and West Worthing

At Goring Gap early morning, my first juvenile Mediterranean Gull of the year flew east with an adult. A Goldcrest was calling at the seaward end of the Plantation and a Pied Wagtail flew over. 15 Gannets and two Sandwich Terns flew past offshore. A Grey Heron flew west and eight Swifts were overhead. Two Oystercatchers and 12 Little Egrets were on the beach. Blackcap, Skylark (three), Green Woodpecker and Song Thrush were heard.

Swift numbers over the garden increased to a quite impressive 35 screaming birds in the evening!

Friday, 5 July 2019

West Worthing

A fabulous late evening display from 25 Swifts over the garden was truly spirit-lifting, especially after low numbers over the late spring/early summer. How many of these birds are genuinely breeding is another question, but I'm certainly going to savour them while they're still here.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Thorney Island

A visit out of curiosity more than expectation, I stuck to the north end of the island and didn't pass through the security gates, so it wasn't a particularly adventurous visit. This defnitely seems like a promising autumn venue though and I will be back ready for a longer walk round. Birds included five Black-tailed Godwits, a showy Common Tern, two Mediterranean Gulls, two singing Lesser Whitethroats, 10 Sand Martins, 72 of both Curlew and Redshank, a Cetti's Warbler, three Great Crested Grebes, a Sparrowhawk, a Buzzard, four Swallows, 10 Skylarks, seven Little Egrets, two Reed Warblers, five Meadow Pipits (a couple performing song-flights), two Kestrels, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, several Whitethroats including fledglings and two Shelduck chicks with their parent.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Goring Gap and Ferring Rife

The first juvenile Yellow-legged Gull of the season was at Goring Gap today, while movers there included a Meadow Pipit, a Pied Wagtail, 10 Swifts, four Common Terns, two Mediterranean Gulls and a Gannet. Seemingly typical here for the time of year was a dispersing Treecreeper in the Plantation, and a Green Woodpecker called. Seven Little Egrets, Skylark, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff were also logged.

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull at Goring Gap

Ferring Rife provided a few highlights, including a Grey Wagtail, a surprising eight Reed Warblers (two fledglings), 10 Swallows, a Reed Bunting, a Grey Heron, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Coal Tit, a Song Thrush, three Mallards, two Moorhens, a Swift, five Whitethroats, a Blackcap, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Green Woodpecker, a Linnet, and a Sandwich Tern offshore.

juvenile Reed Warbler at Ferring Rife

Skylark at Ferring Rife

Swallow at Ferring Rife