Thursday, 10 May 2018

Lyminster, Goring and Ferring Rife

I paid my inaugural visit to my randomly allocated BBS square this morning, just in the nick of time to complete the first of the two required visits. Covering pastoral land just north of Lyminster, the site was a delight, the first birds heard as I got out of the car being a pair of Cuckoos - the bubbling call of females is something I hear so rarely! A Cetti's Warbler, a couple of Reed Warblers and a Reed Bunting were also in voice, while nine Lapwings were a hopeful sight and other highlights included singles of Little Egret, Shelduck, Willow Warbler and Treecreeper, plus two Swifts and six Swallows.

It was then onto the patch, starting with a quick circuit of Goring Gap. The best bits there were a/the female Whinchat in the north-west corner, my first British Sand Martin of the year (!), a Peregrine, a Willow Warbler, a House Martin, five Sanderlings, 13 Turnstones, four Oystercatchers, seven Swallows, a Moorhen, a Whitethroat and a Black-headed Gull. A walk of Ferring Rife revealed five House Martins, six Swallows, a Little Egret, two Grey Herons, a Red Kite, two Buzzards, a Kestrel, two Swifts, five Whitethroats, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, six Mallards, two Moorhens and a Jackdaw.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018


A walk around the Gap this morning was pleasant but quiet in terms of passage migrants, just a Willow Warbler and a Meadow Pipit of note till I came back to where I started and spotted a female Whinchat feeding along the fenceline bording the rough field, which made my day! Gareth and Garry came along for a look and a natter. The Sedge Warbler was remarkably still singing around the scrub in the northwest corner. At long last, two Swifts flew over and a suggestion of hirundine movement involved a House Martin and 10 Swallows, while five Jackdaws seemed to move east. Other bits included a Sparrowhawk, five Buzzards, a Moorhen, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, nine westbound Black-headed Gulls, six Oystercatchers, five Whitethroats, four Linnets, three Sandwich Terns and a Goldcrest. I didn't really look at the sea but two Great Crested Grebes were bobbing around offshore.

female Whinchat

male Whitethroat

male Blackcap

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Goring and West Worthing

A short seawatch from George V Avenue first thing in the morning produced an Arctic Skua, a Curlew, a Whimbrel, a Shelduck, eight Sanderlings, two Dunlin, 41 Gannets, a Fulmar, two Sandwich Terns and six Swallows.

Later in the morning, while working I noticed a Swallow and three Swifts over my West Worthing garden, the latter acting as though they were returning local birds. A neighbour tells me they breed nearby.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Ferring Rife and Goring

A hugely frustrating day. I was working for a big chunk of it but I still potentially had time to do a fair bit of seawatching, though somehow managed to waste/misfire on a load of time. Instead of scanning the waves early morning before work (when it transpired some early moving Poms were going through), I decided to walk Ferring Rife which turned out to be utterly useless. I'm all for being philosophical and hugely appreciate the simple joy of being out and enjoying the common birds but I'm reaching the end of my tether this spring as far as 'migrant-seeking' birding goes. Setting the alarm for 04:45 to go out before a 07:00 work start and getting just a couple of Swallows and seven Whitethroats in return just doesn't cut it. Of course, not every visit will yield 'worthwhile results' but when you consider I haven't had the likes of Swift, Lesser Whitethroat, Yellow Wagtail, Whinchat or Redstart on my new Sussex patch this year, my waning patience might be understandable. I'm unable to patch these days with the intensity applied to Canons in years gone by, but I am lucky enough to still have more than my fair share of free time to devote to it and I've certainly been putting in some reasonable hours.

Finishing work earlier than normal in the afternoon, I could have headed out for a seawatch but instead spent far too long faffing about at home, ultimately getting not very much done, before I read reports of Poms moving along the coast while mid-dinner/washing up. The upshot was that I only got to the George V Avenue shelter after 18:00 for a barely two-hour vigil, rewarded by distant views of a lone Pomarine Skua, as well as the regular 2CY Iceland Gull again fairly close in, plus four Arctic Skuas, three Great Crested Grebes, a Kittiwake, a Shelduck, 49 Gannets, an Oystercatcher and four Sandwich Terns. A Whimbrel was heard.

I'm keen to make the most of the spring while it lasts. To do that I think I might have to re-evaluate my approach and ease off the gas a little as the returns have not matched the efforts and compromises I've had to make, and indeed I can sense they have begun to frustrate my overall birdwatching enjoyment.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Banstead Downs, Banstead, Canons Farm, Banstead Woods and Rainham Marshes

I walked through Banstead Downs to get to the patch for the Banstead Arts Festival Tour, noting a few common warblers on the way. A Pied Wagtail flew over the BP station. It was a very enjoyable walk at the patch despite the lack of unusual migrants. The Wheatear was still in Poultry Field and looked rather like a Greenland race individual. A Little Owl was seen at the farm, along with three Yellowhammers and the busy Nuthatch pair was showing nicely for paritipants in Banstead Woods, where a Treecreeper was again singing in the same area.

Back at Rainham (to pick up my car which had been locked in the previous night - my own stupid fault!), a quick scan revealed four hunting Hobbies, a nice flight view of a singing male Cuckoo and a male Marsh Harrier.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Canons Farm, Banstead Woods and Rainham Marshes

I teamed up with Adrian S early morning then we were accompanied by attendees of the CFBW's Spring Migration Tour for a mooch around the patch. Few migrants were around but we managed a Wheatear, a Mistle Thrush and a Pied Wagtail of note at the farm, along with fly-overs of six Cormorants and five Mallards. Eight Whitethroats and three Treecreepers were counted. Two Bullfinches showed nicely at Heathside and four Yellowhammers performed well. In Banstead Woods, we found a pair of Nuthatches lining teir nest and heard another Treecreeper. A Whitethroat in the Harholt Plantation is notable these days, and two Bullfinches were there.

I took my old schoolfriend Panos to Rainham Marshes in the afternoon to introduce him to some birding. It was a rewarding outing and he loved it. The pick of our sightings included a Greenshank, seven Whimbrel, three Ruffs, two Common Sandpipers, two Marsh Harriers, two Bearded Reedlings, two Common Terns, my first Swift of the year and several Reed, Sedge and Cetti's Warblers.

Greenshank at Rainham Marshes

Whimbrel (centre) with Redshank and Greenshank (right) at Rainham Marshes

Friday, 4 May 2018

Sandwich Bay, Pegwell Bay and Oare Marshes

I teamed up with Christian C and Magnus A at first light for a day birding in Kent. We started at Sandwich Bay, where highlights included my first Lesser Whitethroat, Cuckoo, Reed Warblers (two) and Yellow Wagtails (five) of the year, as well as three Corn Buntings, a Yellowhammer, two Rose-ringed Parakeets, 11 House Martins, six Wheatears and a Rock Pipit. Lapwings and Greylags had young and offshore were two Fulmars, a Gannet, 12 Great Crested Grebes and 12 Common Scoters. Four Avocets were on the Restharrow Scrape, along with six frisky Shovelers.

After lunch, we visited Pegwell Bay, finding a Spoonbill on the sandspit and seeing two Dark-bellied Brent Geese, four Whimbrel, a Yellow Wagtail and 85 Shelducks of note, as well as hearing a Cuckoo and a handful of Sedge and Reed Warblers.

Spoonbill at Pegwell Bay

We headed home via Oare Marshes, which had disappointingly high water levels. However, we logged a Hobby, a male Ruff, 200 Black-tailed Godwits, two Knots, a Peregrine, a Water Rail, six Whimbrel, five Avocets and a Bearded Reedling.

Thursday, 3 May 2018


A painfully quite evening walk around Goring Gap in terms of passerine migrants. A male Wheatear, a Swallow, four Whitethroats and six Blackcaps topped the bill.

male Wheatear

Wednesday, 2 May 2018


In a strong SSW breeze, I headed down to the George V Avenue shelter for a 4-hour vigil. Despite the conditions being challenging and the visibility being very poor from a couple of hours in, I stuck at it and was rewarded with a distant reappearance from the 2CY Iceland Gull, my first patch Tufted Duck, seven Manx Shearwaters, nine Arctic Skuas, 13 Bonxies, three Whimbrel, three Shelducks, five Kittiwakes and a trickle of Sandwich and Common(+'Commic') Terns. Some 20 Fulmars, 293 Gannets, 40 Common Scoters and 29 auks (five of which were within identifiable range and revealed themselves to be Guillemots). A couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were on the sea.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Goring and Ham

A short visit to the Gap early in the morning produced a Whimbrel and a male Wheatear. Later on, another circuit was rewarded with a singing Sedge Warbler in the north-west corner, along with a couple of Willow Warblers. Today I also noted a Swallow, nine Oystercatchers, three Turnstones, three Gannets, two Sandwich Terns, a Moorhen, four Blackcaps, four Chiffchaffs and a Mallard.

Ingrid and I twitched the Stone-curlew at Ham near Sidlesham but failed to spot it in the fading light, although it called loudly three times. A Barn Owl was hunting, as was a Sparrowhawk and a few Red-legged Partridges were around.