Thursday, 5 October 2017

Catch-up, 23rd September-1st October 2017

Well, it's been a busy couple of weeks but considering that this has been largely due to a fabulous and quite insane trip to Spurn in the unique company of David D-L and Magnus A, that can't be a bad thing. David and I formed the advance line, stopping en-route on 23rd to mop up the juvenile Red-necked Grebe at Roding Valley Meadows, the juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher at Saltfleet Haven and point-blank views of quality waders at Covenham Reservoir, a tight and showy flock of juveniles including a Red-necked Phalarope, a Curlew Sandpiper, nine Little Stints and two Ruff; a second-winter Little Gull also put in an appearance. The next day, we picked up Mag from the station in Hull...

juvenile Red-necked Grebe at Roding Valley Meadows
torn emotions among Great Crested Grebes at Roding Valley Meadows
juvenile Red-necked Phalarope, just my second, at Covenham Reservoir
juvenile Little Stint at Covenham Reservoir
juvenile Curlew Sandpiper at Covenham Reservoir
juvenile Ruff at Covenham Reservoir
We stayed at Spurn till 30th, the only 'standout bird' for me being the stonking adult male Red-breasted Flycatcher which turned up at The Warren on 27th but I will fondly remember the week for the panoply of common migrants including Yellow-browed Warblers, Redstarts, Whinchats, Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, Wheatears, Whinchats, Bramblings, redpolls, Siskins, Lesser Whitethroats (including a potential blythi at Chalk Bank on 25th), Garden Warblers, hirundines, Tree, Rock and Meadow Pipits, etc. Just one Yellow Wagtail for me, on 25th, which might end up being my last of the year, as might a Hobby on 28th. A Bittern was a nice Spurn tick on 26th. Brent Geese had started to arrive, along with a noticeable arrival of Wigeon and Teal; the common waders are always good value, which strong numbers of Bar-tailed Godwits, Knots, Golden and Grey Plovers, etc, along with the odd Greenshank and Ruff. Spotted Redshank, Little Stint, Whimbrel and Common Sandpiper also made it onto the roll-call. Seeing tonnes of Tree Sparrows was also something of a treat. A very enjoyable and wine-enhanced seawatch on 25th produced a Sooty Shearwater, 15 Arctic Skuas, three Great Skuas, two Manx Shearwaters, 52 Little Gulls and a Black Tern, along with nine Red-throated Divers and a trickle of Common Scoters.

adult ♂ Red-breasted Flycatcher at Spurn
Garden Warbler at Spurn
Spotted Flycatcher at Spurn
Whinchat at Spurn
a no-shits-given Roe Deer at Spurn
We did make a little diversion on 27th upon the incredible news that a SCOPS OWL had been seen at Ryhope, Co Durham; as a big owl fan, and this being a species I've forever longed to see in Britain, I was delighted to be able to soak up views of this bark-plumaged beast roosting in an elder before we heading to the Pennines to sort of Black and Red Grouse successfully, both being birthday lifers for Mag.

dream come true... Scops Owl at Ryhope
♀ Black Grouse in the Pennines
♂ Black Grouse in the Pennines
♂ Red Grouse in the Pennines
The return leg featured a pit-stop at Landguard (my first visit to the reserve since the Short-toed Treecreeper there in 2011) for the Red-throated Pipit which was on the fourth day of its unusually long stay. Also there was a Redstart and a couple of Wheatears.

Red-throated Pipit at Landguard, my second
I was back on patch duty on 1st, a visit which featured the Barn Owl, a couple of migrant Mistle Thrushes, a Stonechat and two Red-legged Partridges... it was a pleasure to bump into Steve G. A call from Christian prompted an unplanned but worthwhile trip to the London Wetland Centre, where we had a quick look from the Peacock Tower, counting Snipe, Wigeon and the like.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Canons Farm, 22nd September 2017

A decent morning at Canons partly spend in the pleasant company of Geoff B, with my first Reed Bunting of the autumn for the patch and other highlights in the form of a Yellow Wagtail overhead and a southbound flock of six migrant Cormorants. Among a subdued passage of Meadow Pipits were five moving Pied Wagtails. It was nice to see Skylarks flying around the farm again after their usual late summer/early autumn absence, although only three birds were counted. Another bird that has been very thin on the ground is Common Gull, in fact they've been virtually non-existent and it's only in the past few days that I've started to see the odd one; today two were in Broadfield. Two Canada Geese and a Mallard made it onto today's list of patch mentionables and a Little Owl was calling. Migrant warblers were still around, with six Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap noted.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Beddington Farmlands, 21st September 2017

My good birding friend Christian C tends to have Thursdays off so I joined him for a morning's jaunt at Beddington. It seemed I was missing a hirundine spectacular at Canons but, after dropping Christian back home, I figured there was little point in me heading there to pick up the dregs and opted instead to just return to Beddington to sift through the gulls and keep an eye and an ear open for fly-overs.

A few grounded passerines included singles of Wheatear, Whinchat, Reed Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat, as well as at least four Stonechats and around 20 Chiffchaffs. A few Meadow Pipits were milling around, a late Swift flew through and all three common hirundines were passing through at a very low ebb. One Yellow Wagtail called overhead and at least three Grey Wagtails were knocking around. In the south-east corner, we located the juvenile Wood Sandpiper feeding along with two of the four Green Sandpipers logged. Aside from around 15 Lapwings, the only other wader record was Snipe, with a flock of four disturbed.

Grilling the gulls produced two Caspian Gulls, representives in their first and second calendar years, and an adult Yellow-legged Gull, I think the same bird as I had on 8th September. That's not to mention a rather striking leucistic juvenile Herring Gull! I imagine this bird could cause confusion later in life if it wanders around the country... The roll call of ducks included two Wigeon, 70 Teal, 73 Shoveler and 31 Gadwall, while two Egyptian Geese made a ruckus. A Water Rail hurled itself across the North Lake by the hide and onto one of the islands.

juvenile Wood Sandpiper
second-winter Caspian Gull
first-winter Caspian Gull
adult Yellow-legged Gull
leucistic juvenile Herring Gull

Canons Farm and Hastings, 18th September 2017

A morning walk at the farm produced a Yellow Wagtail, 80 Meadow Pipits, a couple of Common Gulls, a Hobby and two Stonechats. Later, in Hastings we saw a Peregrine over the cliffs.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Canons Farm, 17th September 2017

After work, I popped out to the farm in the hope of tracking down a Sedge Warbler, the fourth patch record, located earlier by Darragh C. I had no luck but did find a Barn Owl and a couple of Stonechats of note, so all was not lost!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Canons Farm and Carshalton Ponds, 16th September 2017

A morning at Canons Farm was dominated by Meadow Pipits, with 118 counted by midday but I was most pleased to encounter two patch year ticks, the first being a Firecrest calling by the compost heap at Legal & General which eventually showed itself, followed a couple of hours later by Golden Plover calls from high over Broadfield, although I just couldn't get on the bird (or possibly birds) involved, despite hearing its progress across the sky. A few Swallows and House Martins were also trickling through and a couple of Canada Geese honked over. Three Little Owls announced themselves from different spots.

Later on, I joined Christian C for an evening jaunt around my original birding spot at Carshalton Ponds, highlights including a Kingfisher and two Grey Wagtails.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Beddington Farmlands and Staines Reservoirs, 15th Sepptember 2017

I spent the morning at Beddington with Christian and Magnus. I was pleased to pick out my first Caspian Gull of the season, a smart 1cy which had mostly moulted its mantle/scapulars. A juvenile Wood Sandpiper was the first decent bird I had seen on the enclosed lagoons for longer than I care to remember, nicely picked out by Christian. Other bits included two Wigeons, 19 Gadwall, 57 Teal, five Cormorants, 56 Shovelers, two Little Egrets, two Buzzards, 24 Lapwings, two Green Sandpipers, three Snipe, a late Swift, a Sand Martin, 46 House Martins, 15 Swallows, three Cetti's Warblers, two Yellow Wagtails, two Grey Wagtails and a movement of 120 Meadow Pipits.

1cy Caspian Gull at Beddington
 Mag and I continued to Staines Reservoirs where we joined Franko M, Lee E and others to pick through the offerings... A Grey Phalarope showing on the North Basin was easily the highlight, with most of the birds on the South Basin being frustratingly distant. These, however, included at least four Curlew Sandpipers and three Knot, a Golden Plover, two Greenshanks, three Ruff, a Green Sandpiper and good numbers of Dunlin and Ringed Plovers. A Red Kite was circling in the distance and a few Sand Martins flew through.

Canons Farm, Lodmoor RSPB and Portland, 14th September 2017

A quick visit to Canons while waiting on news from Dorset was rewarded by a couple of Yellow Wagtails and a continuing trickle of Meadow Pipits, plus the regular Peregrine dealing with an intruder. A Collared Dove was an increasingly rare sighting.

Ian J picked me up and we made tracks for Lodmoor, successfully connecting with my first LEAST SANDPIPER and my second STILT SANDPIPER, both juveniles. Other sightings there included a Great Egret, 11 Mediterranean Gulls, a Green Sandpiper, a Yellow Wagtail, a Kingfisher and a few Sand Martins, House Martins and Swallows. A jaunt onwards to Portland bolstered the day's haul with the showy Buff-breasted Sandpiper there (my third) and a Wryneck which sunbathed on a rock in the observatory quarry for a good 30 minutes before slinking into the grass.

Least Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper

Canons Farm, 12th September 2017

Having got back in the early hours from the Barra twitch, I was late to get going in the morning but joined Geoff B at Canons just before midday for a couple of hours. A Hobby and the regular adult male Peregrine were the best features of our walk, plus a few Meadow Pipits. Around 200 Swallows were feeding over Broadfield.

I went down to the Sussex coast to see Ingrid later on but sneaked in a quick exploratory visit to the area between Goring and Ferring. Three Mediterranean Gulls were in the fields and fly-pasts at sea included a Common Tern, 11 Sandwich Terns and two Gannets. A congregation of waders on the beach included 46 Sanderlings, 78 Turnstones and 80 Ringed Plovers. There were two Wheatears on the wooden groynes.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Barra-Oban, 11th September 2017

A miserable morning post-twitch on Barra featured only a couple of Rock Pipits but the sailing back to Oban produced personal totals of 35 Eiders, 94 Fulmars, a Sooty Shearwater, 31 Manx Shearwaters, five Storm-petrels, 85 Gannets, 20 Shags, an Arctic Skua, eight Bonxies, 30 Razorbills, a Guillemot and 85 Kittiwakes. Several Ravens were also seen as we passed land.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Alston Wetlands and Barra, 10th September 2017

When news came through the other day of an American Redstart on the Hebrides, I was chomping at the bit to get up there but simply couldn't make it straight away due to other commitments. An opportunity came up to travel today with Lee, Jeff and Tony so I naturally jumped at the chance. We stopped off at Alston Wetlands, Lancs, on the way up, the plan being to bag the Wilson's Phalarope that turned up there yesterday, hear positive news on the redstart, continue to Oban and duly bag it. Things didn't quite work that way, with the phalarope nowhere to be seen and a frustrating lack of news either way on our main quarry. A Curlew, a couple of Wigeon, a good few Snipe and a handful of Teal were on site, along with a mini-swarm of House Martins and Swallows. With no time to spare, we had little choice but to head blind towards Oban with the only news coming from Barra being that the weather was horrific. Thankfully, we had the joy of positive news on the bird's continued presence in the nick of time, just as we were thinking of bailing out. Long story short, we eventually got on the ferry from which we had six Bonxie, four Arctic Skuas, several Manx Shearwaters, three Whimbrel, three Bar-tailed Godwits, a Razorbill and a few Guillemots, a few Shags and good numbers of Kittiwakes, Gannets and Fulmars. Singles of Sooty Shearwater and Arctic Tern were the highlights. With double rainbows and sunshine emerging, it looked optimistic. Racing along to Eoligarry, we found the fabled group of sycamores and a couple of birders then enjoyed marvellous views of the AMERICAN REDSTART flashing its brilliant yellow as it fed quietly among the browning leaves for some 20 minutes on what was a surprisingly pleasant evening given the washout forecast. What a success!!! Local birds included Rock Dove and Hooded Crow. Many thanks to Geoff W for putting news out of the American Redstart!

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Canons Farm and Beddington Farmlands, 9th September 2017

A decent early morning session at Canons turned up local 'value' in the form of a Sand Martin, a Grey Wagtail, the adult male Peregrine again, a Stonechat, two Yellow Wagtails, a Cormorant, four Canada Geese, a Grey Heron and a trickle of Swallows and Meadow Pipits overhead. An evening walk with Christian C at Beddington produced a 1cy Yellow-legged Gull, the two lingering juvenile Ruff, two Common and seven Green Sandpipers and continuing reasonable early autumn numbers of Teal and Shoveler (56 and 27) along with the Wigeon again. Six Swifts made for a good count this late in the season for the species.

Stonechat at Canons Farm

Friday, 8 September 2017

Canons Farm, Banstead Woods and Beddington Farmlands, 8th September 2017

I spent a very enjoyable morning at Canons with Ian J but boy was it a lifeless start to the day, the carpet of cloud making it feel like the day the dinosaurs died. Before Ian arrived, I'd scored two Ravens as they cronked quite low east, by far my most satisfying encounter with this species on patch so far. I'm still waiting to see one or two on the deck here! Ian joined me from my sheltered skywatching position along the side of Broadfield and before long a large raptor appeared which immediately 'felt' different - getting the scope fixed, it was clear that we were looking at a fairly pale juvenile Honey-buzzard, just my second record at CFBW in eight years of patching! We enjoyed pretty good views of it for some eight minutes before it vanished behind some trees. It seemed likely that the bird had arrived yesterday and roosted overnight on site or nearby. We completed a walk covering the key areas of the farm and some of the southwestern end of Banstead Woods, featuring common migrant warblers such as Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaff, plus a few Bullfinches. On the way back, it was pissing down but I couldn't help checking the 'corner post' in Owl Meadow - it was a good thing I did as it sported a lone Whinchat.

After heading home to dry off and have lunch, I headed back out into the field and scanned the lakes at Beddington, a fairly uneventul venture but for an adult Yellow-legged Gull, a Wigeon (my first locally of the autumn), a Cetti's Warbler and a rather eye-catching advanced 1cy Lesser Black-backed Gull.

A video of the Honey-buzzard is online here

adult Yellow-legged Gull

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Beddington Farmlands and Ferring, 7th September 2017

I spent three hours at Beddington this morning, briefly in the company of Christian C, Mike N and Frank P. The highlight was being given the opportunity to process a re-trap Cetti's Warbler which had flown into the mist-nets that Mike and Frank were running. There was a suggestion of overhead movement into the light southwesterly wind with eight Yellow Wagtails and 13 Meadow Pipits tallied by the time I left mid-morning to get my jabs for Ethiopia. We also enjoyed some spectacular views of a hunting Hobby throwing some shapes over the mound. After my jabs, I headed down to see Ingrid and we had a couple of Yellow Wagtails in the furrowed field by the Asda in Ferring.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Oare Marshes, 6th September 2017

I teamed up with Cory from the States for a short day's birding at Oare Marshes but one filled with several avian rewards! An ambulance was on call at one of the houses along the approach to the reserve so we parked up and watched the mixed Yellow and Pied Wagtail gathering in the fields for a bit; a Wheatear and a Lesser Whitethroat were in the same area. Once on the reserve, the first unexpected encounter involved a juvenile Cuckoo feeding on caterpillars in a dead tree on the grazing marsh - the first I've seen for some time - closely followed by the strange sight of a juvenile Hobby trekking low across the surface of The Swale. Two Greenshanks dived over onto the East Flood and good numbers of Grey Plovers were on the Sheppey side, along with three Marsh Harriers and a couple of Buzzards. A couple of Bearded Reedlings teased us with their calls from the reedbeds but remained unseen, as did a few Cetti's Warblers. A Peregrine buzzed the flood, repeatedly setting up the waders, and later on a juvenile Osprey gave good scope views as it circled to the west. It later took its turn at stirring panic among the waders as it cruised low over the East Flood, where highlights included nine Curlew Sandpipers (one adult and eight juveniles), the adult Long-billed Dowitcher and four Knot. Two Wigeon also put in an appearance.

Best of all, while Cory was back at the car, a curious call overhead alerted me to a Pectoral Sandpiper which circled the west side of the reserve twice before disappearing to the southeast! Hopefully Cory wasn't too gripped as he has seen loads in the States. Walking back to the car, conversation with a group of three other birds revealed that they had also clocked the Pec. This is the third I have found in Britain, following birds at Dungeness RSPB and Tice's Meadow over the last few years.

Beddington Farmlands, 5th September 2017

A hasty post-work check of the lakes produced a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull, a Green Sandpiper and a trickle of Sand and House Martins, as well as singles of Sedge Warbler and Grey Wagtail.

Canons Farm and Beddington Farmlands, 4th September 2017

It was miserable weather at Canons and my walk 'only' produced the 12th and 13th Whinchats of the autumn for the site. After getting Linda M onto the birds I bailed out and headed to Beddington to join Dodge, Swifty and Prof in the hide for a bit. A couple of Grey Wagtails flew over and two Cetti's Warbler had found their voices again but the most exciting moment came when watching a Hobby clock something above it, ascend and then effortlessly pluck a Swift (one of three) from the sky after a short and merciless pursuit. Duck counts included 40 Teal and 43 Shoveler, while 22 Lapwings were counted.

Canons Farm and Beddington Farmlands, 3rd September 2017

Just before my early shift finished mid-afternoon, news came through from Steve G of a Pied Flycatcher in Lunch Wood at Canons. As soon as I clocked off I raced over there and it was good to bump into Shaun F along Reads Rest Lane. We encountered Steve by Reads Rest Cottages and all three of us marched to Lunch Wood for a brief and unsuccessful search for the flycatcher, just the fourth patch record. The weather was grim so it was hardly surprising that the flycatcher had gone to ground. I decided to revive my initial plan of heading to Beddington for the evening, which turned up a couple of successes in the form of a vocal Firecrest along the hedge on Cuckoo Lane and two juvenile Ruff which were feeding on the North Lake the second time I checked it, just as the light was fading and I was heading for the car. One was a male and the other a reeve. Other sightings included two Greenshanks and two Common Sandpipers but just three Green Sandpipers.

Ruff at dusk

A recording of the Firecrest

Canons Farm and Banstead Woods, 2nd September 2017

Paul G and I led the annual CFBW Bird Group's Autumn Migration Tour around the farm, with a quick jaunt into the woods. Patch birders were most excited by the Sand Martins over Broadfield. Of the three, I only saw the one. Other highlights included a Garden Warbler, a surprisingly scarce autumn migrant on the patch, a Wheatear, four Meadow Pipits and a trickle of Swallows. The Tawny Owl hooted again in Lunch Wood. I saw a Spotted Flycatcher and the adult male Peregrine prior the the walk starting.

Canons Farm and Banstead Woods, 1st September 2017

A brilliant day on the patch. The magical fallen tree near the Watchpoint had the Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchat and Lesser Whitethroat in it all at the same time! A couple of Wheatears were nearby. Paul G found a Firecrest in Banstead Woods and I gave it a short stake out to no avail.

1cy male Redstart
Spotted Flycatcher

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Canons Farm, 31st August 2017

I was glad to be back on the patch again this morning and it was another productive session. A familiar rather flat-sounding tacking call near the old Watchpoint had me searching around for a Redstart. On the sunny side the hedgerow there it was, a gorgeous first-winter male and my first of the autumn locally. In the same area an unusually showy Lesser Whitethroat was very active and one of the morning's three Little Owls popped into the open. Other birds of particular interest included a Hobby, four Meadow Pipits, a sprinkling of Swallows and House Martins, a Willow Warbler and a Wheatear, as well as a fairly late Swift.


Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Staines Reservoirs, 30th August 2017

It was a rainy visit today with Paul S as we marvelled at the delights on offer across the draining South Basin. It was nice to bump into Lee E on the causeway and compare counts! At the beginning of my scanning, a Turnstone appeared on the edge of one of the islands but soon vanished into the ether. Other bits included a juvenile Black Tern, around 20 Common Terns, four Greenshanks, a juvenile Ruff, nine Black-tailed Godwits, two Snipe, a scattering of Ringed Plovers and Dunlin, a Black-necked Grebe (and, more unusually for Staines, two Little Grebes) and two Shelducks. Some 80 Shovelers were feeding, along with 50 Teal.

Beddington Farmlands, 29th August 2017

I had time for an evening stroll around the lakes and to Hundred Acre and back. Highlights included a Greenshank, four Common Sandpipers, 11 Green Sandpipers, two Little Egrets and two Cetti's Warblers... A Painted Lady was a welcome distraction on the way in.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Leith Hill, 28th August 2017

I didn't make it to the first proper autumn Leith Hill Tower vismig session a couple of weeks ago so made sure I attended the session this morning. I joined Matt P, David S and Steve C, all in high hopes that the next Surrey mega would be around the corner... It turned out to be a quiet first few hours, apart from a couple of waves of House Martins. Birds around the tower itself provided a welcome distraction, including two of both Spotted Flycatcher and Marsh Tit, plus a Firecrest. By the time the other birders were getting ready to depart mid-morning, our highlight was a couple of southbound Sand Martins and two Grey Wagtails heading the other way. An immature Grey Heron also flew through.

With David already gone, Matt and Steve were packing up their scopes just as 'raptor time' was due to begin and it was kicked off in style with a juvenile female Goshawk which appeared just in the nick of time. We watched it jostling with a male Sparrowhawk for about ten minutes before it landed out of sight in a stand of pines a couple of kilometres or so away. I was left to my own devices and soon picked up a Yellow Wagtail, two Red Kites and a Hobby. Buzzards were out in force and I put down 40-ish in my notebook, this including a flock of 14. I was glad of Paul S's company for the rest of the watch, during which we watched further waves of House Martins go through, including a rather worried-looking flock bomb their way north, only for the Hobby to appear hot on their tails a couple of seconds later!

juvenile female Goshawk (below) with male Sparrowhawk (photo: Matt Phelps)

Canons Farm and Oare Marshes, 27th August 2017

A quick stroll around Canons in the morning was a little less eventful than the last few visits, but the company of Geoff B, Ian J, Paul G and Martin L made it all the better. Anyway, it wasn't bad, with three Yellow Wagtails, a Lesser Whitethroat and 20 House Martins providing some local-level quality. Ian and I went straight on to Kent - stopping off in the countryside en-route to Oare Marshes we picked up a family of five Spotted Flycatchers, a Whinchat and a Hobby. A slightly rushed but absolutely serene evening at Oare was something to savour - it was warm and pleasant with many birds thanks to the high tide and of course the time of year! Highlights were the adult Long-billed Dowitcher showing rather well, a juvenile Little Stint, eight Ruff (including my first juvenile of the year, a female), six Whimbrel, five Snipe, four Knot, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 25 Common Terns, 10 Sandwich Terns, a Bearded Reedling and at least seven Yellow Wagtails. Hurried and rather rough higher counts included 500 Grey Plovers on the other side of the Swale, 600 Golden Plovers, 2500 Black-tailed Godwits, 600 Redshanks, 60 Ringed Plovers, 70 Dunlin, 150 Lapwings and 90 Avocets. The most unusual sighting was my first Oare Marshes record of Rose-ringed Parakeet as one squawked overhead!

adult Long-billed Dowitcher

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Canons Farm, 26th August 2017

Another brilliant morning on the patch with highlights including Whinchat, Tree Pipit, Peregrine, three Yellow Wagtails, the staying Lesser Whitethroat and a Red Kite. A Tawny Owl proclaimed itself, along with the usual Little Owls.


Friday, 25 August 2017

Canons Farm and Beddington Farmlands, 25th August 2017

A most gratifying morning at the farm saw me build up a decent tally of early autumn migrants, namely eight Yellow Wagtails and singles of Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchat, Lesser Whitethroat, Wheatear, Swift and Meadow Pipit, along with a light scattering of Whitethroats, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs. I do love the autumn! A couple of hours at Beddington in the evening scored yet another Whinchat, along with a Snipe, a Little Egret and a 1cy Yellow-legged Gull (I think the same very white-headed bird from the other day) of note. A Cetti's Warbler was calling and the hordes of Starlings were taking advantage of the aerial plankton feast.

Spotted Flycatcher at Canons
Whinchat at Beddington

Canons Farm and Arundel WWT, 24th August 2017

I only had time for a very quick circuit of the farm in the morning, so I performed a whistle-stop check of the most crucial areas. Not a bad result considering, with a Whinchat, three Yellow Wagtails and a Willow Warbler.

Later on, Ingrid and I spent a couple of hours for lunch at Arundel - wild birds were few and far between but included a few Buzzard, a Shoveler and a Teal.

Whinchat at Canons Farm

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Canons Farm and Beddington Farmlands, 23rd August 2017

A circuit of Canons this morning produced a hat-trick of decent fly-overs, with a Yellow Wagtail followed by two Tree Pipits and then three quite unexpected Snipe! I managed to fit in a couple of hours at Beddington before work in the evening, searching the mound and scanning the lakes. A Mistle Thrush was the best sighting, this being a surprisingly difficult bird at Beddington and actually a patch tick for me! I may have seen one years ago when I first started visiting, but I deleted the species a while ago as I couldn't actually recall any encounters. Two Pochard, four Shoveler and five Teal were on the South Lake. Two juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls were among the hordes of Larids, while a Wheatear, two Little Egrets, 21 Lapwings and singles of Common Sandpiper, Egyptian Goose and Cetti's Warbler were noted.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Portland and Farlington Marshes, 22nd August 2017

Captained by John B, I headed with Magnus A to Portland in the early hours in the hope of connecting with the Yellow Warbler discovered near the bird observatory yesterday afternoon. Abject failure, it was down to a very light overhead trickle of Tree Pipits and Yellow Wagtails to keep us busy. In hindsight, I should have shot down there as soon as news broke but I simply didn't expect to get there in time for the bird to still be showing, or perhaps for there even to be any light. Six Common Scoters and a Dunlin flew past at sea, while at least four Ravens, two Wheatears, a few Willow Warblers and a Peregrine were also seen.

We gave up and started off for home at about 13:00. John fancied dropping in at Farlington Marshes on the way home for Pectoral Sandpiper as a year tick. Incredibly, it transpired that the bird was in the process of buggering off just as we were parking up. It was nice to relax and stretch our legs for a couple of hours though, highlights including a Green Sandpiper, two Greenshanks, a Ruff, two Yellow Wagtails, three Wheatears, three Stonechats, several Grey Plovers, a Common Sandpiper and two Bearded Reedlings.

Canons Farm and Beddington Farmlands, 21st August 2017

I started the birding day at Canons, finding little unexpected but a Meadow Pipit and a Willow Warbler provided some value, along with the nesting pair of Swallows and 13 migrant Swifts. Two Little Owls were calling and my first patch Rook in a while flew over.

Spending the evening at Beddington, highlights there included an adult male Wheatear, a quite showy Yellow Wagtail, two 1cy Yellow-legged Gulls, eight Green Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper, a Sedge Warbler and an Egyptian Goose. There was an increase in ducks since my last visit, with seven Teal, two Pochard and six Shovelers logged.

♂ Wheatear
1cy Yellow-legged Gull
1cy Yellow-legged Gull
adult ♀ Peregrine

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Oare Marshes etc, 17th August 2017

An awesome day at Oare Marshes! Magnus A and Simon W joined me for a few hours at Oare Marshes. We bagged the adult Long-billed Dowitcher, the adult Bonaparte's Gull, an adult Curlew Sandpiper, two adult Spotted Redshanks, two juvenile Little Stints, four Whimbrels, two juvenile Little Ringed Plovers, two Ruffs, a Greenshank, a Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 180 Golden Plovers, 150 Avocets, 60 or so Grey Plovers and three Turnstones among a typical suite of waders and wildfowl. A handful of Mediterranean Gulls were around, including at least four juveniles, as were six Yellow Wagtails and two Bearded Reedlings. Two Peregrines, an adult female and a juvenile male, repeatedly buzzed the East Flood and a fresh juvenile Common Gull was also nice to see. Trickling through were small numbers of Swift, Sand Martin, House Martin and Swallow.

There was just enough time for having a stab at viewing a known Honey-buzzard area elsewhere in Kent and we were delighted to score a brief view of a singleton which flew over the car as we watched from the road!

My camera seems to be a little broken, which is a real pain in the ass, and adds to my recent run of breakages which includes my mobile, my laptop and one of our dining room chairs... I'm going to take the camera in for repair tomorrow so I may be limited to phonescoped shots for a little while.

adult Long-billed Dowitcher creeping about
the Bonaparte's keeping up appearances on the East Flood - later seen on The Swale
adult Curlew Sandpiper
Golden Plovers - note the juvenile shining bright in the foreground!
juvenile Little Ringed Plover
we hit it lucky with a Honey-buzzard in a known area

Beddington Farmlands, 15th August 2017

I had time for a quick morning walk with Christian C at Beddington. Unfortunately, the Cattle Egret was nowhere to be seen but we did find the juvenile Wood Sandpiper on Jim's Pit, along with around six Green Sandpipers. Other highlights included a surprise first-summer Caspian Gull ringed 'G0UT', seen quite a bit on the Thames recently by Josh J, as well as two Little Egrets, a Common Sandpiper, a couple of House Martins and a few Swifts still moving through...

Jim's Pit doing its thing: Common Sandpiper left, Wood Sandpiper right

2cy Caspian Gull 'G0UT'