Wednesday, 1 March 2017

A Cornish 'pirate' visits Goring

Greater-black-backed Gull - L:CT2 - Goring-on-sea - West Sussex - 25th February 2017

Checking through the gull roosts at Goring always throws something interesting up from time-to-time. Checking the gulls today, I noticed 2 of the young Greater-black-backed Gulls were colour ringed. For a change, they were close to the car, 1 had a black ring with white numbering on its right leg but unfortunatley I was unable to get the details before it departed, but did manage to get details of this individual and checking the Euring website was fortunate enough to receive the following details from Bruce Taggart from the Looe Gull Study group......

"Hi Nick
Thanks for this sighting. Not a great life history I'm afraid - yours is the first sighting of this bird. However it is a good record as not many of our birds head NE, most have a southerly bearing. Interestingly we've never had any records from the English east coast.
The project on Looe Island has colour ringed over 500 GBB Gull chicks since 2010. Last year for the first time we had ringed birds returning to the island to breed.
The project has shown that there is frequent cross Channel movements with numerous sightings in France and the Channel Islands, and birds returning to the south west. I suspect they find a working trawler and follow it back to port. The furthest movement has been a bird that flew twice to NW Spain, returning to Looe in the interim.
Any more sightings of this or any other Looe birds will be valuable.
Many thanks

Bruce Taggart
Co-ordinator, Looe Gull Study Group

Great Black-backed Gull Recapture History
Codes: Pull = Pullus/Nestling; 3J= hatched during calendar year in juvenile body plumage; 3= hatched during calendar year; 5= definitely hatched last year; 7= definitely hatched 2 years ago; 9= definitely hatched 3 years ago; 11= definitely hatched 4 years ago; VV=alive and probably healthy, ring or colour marks read in the field.
Metal Ring Number
Colour Code
Ringing date/ Ringer
Mark Grantham
Place of Ringing
St George’s (Looe) Island, Looe, Cornwall. England
50º20’N, 04º 26’W
Type/ Age
Capture Details
vv sighted
Nick Bond
Goring-on-Sea, nr Worthing , East Sussex

50o48’N 00o24’W
290 km
250 days

Map from Looe Island to Worthing

Friday, 3 February 2017

Winter 2016 - Goring

As followers of this blog may know, one of the area's I try and keep an eye on in winter months is at Goring, especially the roosts that accumulate here on the surrounding fields. This has proved fairly fruitful, with Iceland and Glaucous Gull's being found here in previous winters. Some crisp winter morning's allowed for some of Goring's resident birds to be photographed

Black-headed Gull - this individual had started to moult into it's breeding plumage very early!

Common Gull - hoping a Ring-billed Gull will drop in with these guys one day!

Kestrel - has been favouring the east side of the gap and can sometimes be seen hunting the back fields

Magpie - always look daper this time of year, a bird full of character

Sanderling - this individual on the beach with colour rings, unfortunatley unabe to retrieve any information on this individual as some rings are missing from it's left leg as is the bird's foot. Dave Potter also photographed this individual last winter at Goring. 

December 2016 - Rose-coloured Starling - Crawley

This young Rose-coloured Starling has been residing in gardens in Beachy Road in Broadfield, Crawley and paid this bird a visit in early December. Juvenille's are usually a drab affair, but this bird was already moulting and if it hangs around, who knows, we may well see it as a full adult and a completly different looking bird. The locals are feeding the bird well and were very friendly and inquisitive about the birds presence, hopefully it will hang around....

This photo featured in February's 2017 Birdwatching magazine

December 2016 - Local Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting are pretty regular along our local stretch of beach here in Worthing, I never tire of seeing them and they are generally confiding although this individual was pretty flighty and took some tracking down, not really a surprise considering how busy the area gets with dog walkers/joggers etc, The bird only remained in the area for around 4 days, but proved rather popular with local birders and photographers when it did show. It mainly fed along the coastal path, but I also observed this individual feeding in the ploughed field opposite the beach with Skylarks, flying back to the coastal path calling as it flew

Short video of the bird here on youtube

September 2016 - Sussex Birds

September on the Sussex coast enabled me to catch-up with a couple of scarcities. The Red-backed Shrike at Newhaven Tidemills showed brilliantly during it's stay. I went on a Saturday and the light faded as I was there but was great watching the bird hunt insects and also singing. I also have video footage whilst Yellow Wagtails were calling as they migrated overhead.

The Wryneck at Climping was not so easy and was typically elusive, I managed a quick record shot as it flew up from the beach into nearby cover and only gave very brief flight views before finally coming back to the beach again a couple of hours later, 

Red-backed Shrike - Newhaven Tidemills - September 2016

Wryneck - Climping - September 2016

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Portland April 2016

23rd - 24th April 2016 - Portland weekend

Another weekend visit to Portland, staying for the night a Portland Bird Observatory and catching up with Gary and Glen and all the Portland regulars. Leaving early, I stopped off at Acres Down in the New Forest for a stroll. As soon as I parked up and opened the car door, the distant sound of a calling Cuckoo was a first for the year for me. Pretty surreal as temperatures were barely touching 4 degrees! Plenty of birdsong and at times difficult to pick out the different species as each tried to over-power the other in the continuous dawn chorus. Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiff chaff were abundant, but the highlight for me was a singing male Common Redstart, on territory, there song is one of my favourite and very distinctive. A couple of Crossbills flew over as did some very vocal Siskins. No sight or sound of any Wood Warbler so was time to head to the car to continue my journey to Potland and warm up.

Dolphins - distantly off Cheyne Weare - Portland

 Reed Warbler - Culverwell - found this bird apparantley a first for the year at the 'bill'
Wheatear - always a delight and in good numbers too

Arriving in Weymouth and conditions good, I checked out Lodmoor, parking at the north end and did the circuit dodging dog walkers, cyclists and joggers. There was lots of hirundines hawking the reserve, mainly Sand Martin's but Swallow, House Martin and my first 6 Swifts of the year were seen higher up. Cetti's Warblers were everywhere and another yeartick in the form of a Lesser Whitethroat was rattling away and seen briefly. Was surprised to find no waders on the reserve and little else of note was seen but heard the 'pinging' of Bearded Tits as I walked through the reedbed along with many Reed Warblers. Only 2 Sedge Warbler were seen and heard 

As I drove towards Portland, Martin Cade had tweeted that a pod of bottle-nosed dolphins were heading along the east cliffs off the bill. I decided to check off the car-park off Cheyne and within minutes I was watching the dolphins as the headed north, counting at least 8 and they were constantly being mobbed by gulls. I headed round to the prison as would gain closer views, but despite waiting here, they failed to arrive. Whilst here, the local gull and crow population were going mental, a Common Buzzard floated over-head and not the hoped for Osprey.
Glen had messaged to say they were watching a Ring Ouzel in the crown estate field, so headed down to the obs and struggled to park for a while as car park full as where the road-side verges. There was an army of birders lined up in the top fields and the thoughts of a rarity that had just been found flashed through my mind, but was a false alarm as everyone was watching a Redstart! A quick trudge around the top fields produced some good birds, Redstart, Short-eared Owl, Whitethroat, Wheatears dotted around. The Short-eared Owl was just viewable sat tight in a tree near the barns. There has also been new stables constructed up here now and appears to be some work/developing going on in the barn area, hopefully not too much! In Culverwell, I managed to pick out a Reed Warbler that showed well, returning to the obs, Pete proclaimed it was a first for the year for them so was pleased with that!
By now Gary had arrived and after a quick catch up and seeing a male Redstart in the hand, we headed to Cheyne to look for Wall Lizards, but no luck here today. A Wheatear, Blackcap and Peregrine made the stop worthwhile though. Onto Ferrybridge to see what was on offer there. Little Terns showed well with at least 4 birds present, at times fishing quite close, but the light was all wrong for any decent pics. Plenty of Sandwich Terns also fishing on the Fleet. Back at the obs, the Dolphins were putting on another show, viewed from the garden. We decided to head out for the evening early to catch the FA cup semi-final between Man Utd and Everton also meeting up with Joe Stockwell, followed by a Chinese takeaway and more beers back at the obs to conclude the day!

Peregrine Falcon at Cheyne

Little Terns at Ferrybridge - light all wrong for decent pics but glad to get some record shots 
After a great nights sleep in the cottage at the obs, it was time to go again and hopefully find and see some decent spring migrants. The wind was all wrong for a sea-watch, but a single Bonxie and Arctic Skua were a nice bonus. A Firecrest showed briefly in the front garden along with a single Goldcrest. The wind was stronger than yesterday and was pretty damn cold making searching for any grounded migrants difficult. We checked out the top fields again, there was an obvious fall of Wheatears and was nice to find a male Yellow Wagtail that showed nicely before moving off north, another bird was also seen but again, did not hang around. The Short-eared Owl was sitting out in the open giving stunning, but a little distant views near the barns. A female Redstart was also a nice find as was a female Pied Flycatcher in Culverwell which Gary did well to pick out. Chilling at the obs, I caught a couple of snippets of a reeling Grasshopper Warbler in scrub next to the obs. It literally reeled for no more than 5 seconds at a time and I failed to get anyone else onto it. I thought I was going mad and starting to doubt myself, but Pete confirmed there was one reeling at the bottom of the garden and Julian had heard one earlier too. Later on, I heard it reeling again this time more distantly but enough to clinch need to get the ears checked just yet :-). Time to head home, but got distracted by some good birding at Reap Lane and Barleycrates where giving the barns a good grilling, we found a couple of smart Whinchat, along with 2 Common Redstart. Blackcap and Wheatear were present in good numbers and a couple of Whitethroat passed through. A smart male Sparrowhawk was perched up and seeing what tired migrants he could pick up for tea!
A great weekend and good company, many firsts for the year happily ticked off, just love birding on Portland this time of year, just never know what you may see , on land and sea.
Thanks to Martin, Pete and all at the Obs for another great stay!
 Holly Blue - again ' another first for the year for me'

Monday, 28 March 2016

March 2016

28th March 2016 - *Sussex Mega* - American Wigeon at Pulborough
Gordon Beck had found a drake American Wigeon at Pulborough Brooks on the evening of the 27th and news filtered out via the SOS website and the Sussex Birders Facebook page. Forecast for the morning was bleak as storm Katie rattled in over night, I was up before light but was left questioning my sanity as I looked outside and saw the storm ripping through everything in site. A tweet from Ian Barnard had me moving though as the positive news was put out early that the bird was still present. There has only been one previous accepted record for Sussex so heading out into the storm was a no brainer and was soon on-site having passed several fallen trees en-route. The hide was fairly empty and good scope views were obtained as the bird sheltered on the far bank with 3 other Wigeon, occasionally swimming, feeding before going to sleep on the bank. There was at least 30 Sand Martins on the north brooks along with 2 Swallows, 2 Pintail and a Firecrest was found along the zig zag track which showed well. Good to see so many local birders out in force, it has been a while!

26th March 2016 - Patch Gold!
An hours sea-watch off Worthing was fairly productive with my first Sandwich Terns of the year seen here, 3 in total and all going through singly, other than that there were small groups of Common Scoter and Brent Geese going through. 2 Red-throated Diver and 2 Fulmar all east were also noted. I decided to head to the patch to check for any passerines, looking for Wheatears on the beach here a male Peregrine headed low overhead. No luck with Wheatears, I tried the compound area and soon heard the call of a parakeet, the bird called again and soon picked it up high over the houses above Sea Lane, it circled around a couple of times before heading overhead and headed off high eastwards! A patch tick in the bag, ok, not a migrant but these are pretty scarce on the south coast. I then picked up another familiar call and was soon watching another patch tick in the form of the delightful Firecrest that popped out in the nearest bramble patch, there was at least 2 birds seen with maybe a third. I was amazed to find these birds on the coat in spring, but soon realised via other news feeds, there is an obvious influx of this species along the coast! Coming away from the sea-watch early, I missed a Arctic Skua, Bonxie and a Balearic Shearwater which again is birding for you, you cannot see everything!

25th March 2016 - Arundel WWT and Heyshott common
Managed to see the Great-grey Shrike that Chris Janman had reported on the SOS site, gaining good scope views when the bird eventually gave itself up. 2 Red Kites, Marsh Tit, Stonechat and Siskin were also on site. At Arundel WWT provided a couple of singing Chiffchaffs, Water Vole, Grey Wagtail, Brimstone and Peacock butterfly whilst a Peregrine was seen at the hanger

Local West Sussex birds -
A few local year-ticks been added recently with a trip to the north end of Pagham Harbour and church Norton, taking in the ferry pool, aswell as a quick morning visit to Climping. Highlights included a Spotted Redshank in White's Creek, 2 Avocet at breech pool and 4 on the ferry pool which also hosted my first Green Sandpiper of the year. A Whimbrel was also in the harbour from Church Norton. A visit to a undisclosed heathland found a singing male Dartford Warbler, the same site saw many Siskin's flying about. I connected with one of the Siberian Chiffchaff's at Coldwaltham before another failed attempt for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker's ended the day on a low. Brimstone, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock were all on the wing at various locations. 2 Grey Patridges were in the horse paddock at Climping whilst Red-legged Partridge were seen at ferry pool and the entrance road to Church Norton


18th - 21st March 2016 - Weekend in Weymouth
A family break in Littlesea enabled me to catch up with the Pallas's Warbler at Portesham which showed very well once located, calling several times too. Some nice record shots were obtained but the light was pretty poor for photography. Saw my first Sand Martins of the year at Lodmoor




16th March 2016 -
Another quick look at Shoreham Fort only 2 Purple Sandpipers being noteworthy, birding pretty difficult in a nagging easterly wind. No passerines on offer and very little at Widewater


12th and 13th March 2016 -
Great to be back out in the field again after a 12 day stretch at work was greeted with spring sunshine on each day after the murk had cleared. Stuck local with highlights being 2 Purple Sandpipers and Wall Lizards at Shoreham Fort, 2 Short-eared Owls at the dogs trust field a Shoreham airport, 2 Little Owls, Raven, 4 Fieldfare at Warningcamp, a smart male Blackcap(2016 patch tick) and a Mediterranean Gull at Goring. No Wheatears yet but just a matter of days

Elsewhere in Sussex, the Glossy Ibis is still being seen at Pett Level, the Glaucous Gull was seen in Shoreham Harbour and Goring.


3rd March 2016 -
Had a free morning so headed inland again and spent a couple of hours to no avail in looking for a Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, perfect conditions this morning with morning sunshine and a light breeze. The place was alive though with small woodland birds including Marsh Tit and good numbers of Treecreepers were seen (see below)
I am sure I will be back to try and see this elusive Woodpecker in their regular/traditional haunts, as I said earlier in the year, determined to get out more this year and doing so ! Wish I had the day to explore these parts and light was perfect for photography. Great to bump into George Kinnard and Luke Dray there too...wonder if they found any??

Matter of days til the first Wheatear. Garganey, LRP's and Sand Martins arrive on these shores so should stir things up a bit.
Elsewhere in Sussex, there is a White-fronted Goose and Chichester GP's on trout lake, recently been a pair of Red-crested Pochards on nearby Ivy Lake and a Green Sandpiper has been on Siddelsham Ferry Pool. The Glaucous Gull is still around and frequently seen these days at the entrance to Shoreham Harbour, but has also been seen at Widewater and along the Adur by the new footbridge. Nearby, a Short-eared Owl is still in residence at Shoreham airport.2 Black-necked Grebes are on the Long Pool at Rye and 2 Siberian Chiffchaffs are still at Coldwaltham sewage works. Divers are still around with 5 Great-northern at Selsey and a smart Red-throated Diver is at Arlington Marshes