Welcome to my blog. If you live in Surrey and birding is your obsession (to get out of bed at some ridiculously early time of the morning, no matter what the weather, to go and look at birds isn't normal behaviour, believe me) and you're still a bit of a novice (like me) then, hopefully, this blog is for you.

Sunday 30 April 2017


It had still been pretty quiet this week until, inevitably, I happened to be away all day yesterday. A drake Garganey was seen, asleep, first thing in the morning on the pools at the Moors.

Luckily, it stayed all day and was still about when I dashed over to Holmethorpe just before the light had gone at 8.20pm. I managed to get pretty decent views of the Garganey, it was now quite active, feeding and swimming around, even taking a brief flutter into the air to keep out of the way of some aggressive Coots.

The drake Garganey at Holmethorpe in the half-light
I went out this morning to see if it was still around but it had gone. Garganey are a relatively regular visitor to the site, we have had at least one sighting for the past few years. This drake was a welcome addition to the patch year list, bringing the total up to 113 for the year – well down on 2016, when we had seen 127 species by April 29.

I've been keeping an eye on the weather and it turned to a breezy south-easterly today, which was good for seawatchers and likely Pomarine Skua movement. And so it proved, with decent numbers passing through the English Channel for Sussex and Kent birders to witness.

I'd made a late start to the morning on the patch,but I couldn't resist the urge to belt down to Splash Point at Seaford to see some migrating Skuas for myself.

Predictably, a large throng of birders were already set up at the Point and I managed to position myself close to Simon Linington, a director of Sussex Wildlife Trust and a top-notch birder, who kept many up-to-date with birds as they flew passed.

Pomarine Skua passing Splash Point
It had already been busy morning, but fortunately there was plenty still going on, and it wasn't long before my first Bonxie flew east, followed by my first Pomarine Skua of the spring.

An Arctic Skua in pursuit of a Sandwich Tern
The stream of birds was constant for the two hours I was there (10.15am-12.15am), with a number of Arctic Skua being added to the list.

Bar-tailed Godwit
Altogether I saw 10 Pomarine Skua, including five together, plus great views of an Arctic Skua pursuing a Sandwich Tern – of which there were numerous. Added to which were Common and 'Commic' Tern, plus at least 10 Little Tern.

On the wader front there were decent numbers of Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit and Knot, plus the odd Grey Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin and Turnstone.

The weather looks less encouraging tomorrow, more south than south east, but being a day off, I'll be heading to Seaford again early in the morning.

Monday 24 April 2017


Hi everyone. It's been a while. In fact, this is the longest I have ever gone without writing a post. In previous years I would have never imagined going through the whole of March and most of April without writing something.

Strange times, indeed. So, why the gap? Some of it has to do with the predictable workload – I now work some weekends on a motorsport project, which is taking up plenty of hours.

Secondly, the lack of birds. The start of spring never really happened locally as the persistent northerly winds put a block on migrant movements. Ray Baker, one of our local patch watchers, has admirably has been walking many miles to keep up to date with bird numbers – he actually counts every bird he sees over a few hours. And he has noted that numbers have been down by half on some days.

On April 3 for example, he counted 845 birds during his five-hour survey. Sounds quite a lot, until compared with the same day last year, when he counted 1,540...

Yes, it has been worryingly quiet, and having been not that dedicated lately, I really couldn't be arsed to venture to the patch that often.

So what has been seen in my absence?

For one thing, a Dartford Warbler. If first arrived on the Moors on February 28, appeared on and off for a few days and then disappeared. Needless to say, I never saw it – I tried a number of times, but drew a blank.

One of two Little Ringed Plovers seen late today on the Water Colour Lagoon 2
island as the rains came
The best birds seen during the past six weeks or so have been a Merlin, seen by Ray, and a Nightingale, another Ray find. For me, the highlights have been a Sedge Warbler (no-one else has seen one) and a couple of Little Ringed Plover this evening in the rain.

That's it.

Elsewhere, if I had been paying attention during the day, I could have gone down to Beachy Head to see the Blue Rock Thrush, but I didn't find out until too late.

April is nearly over and I've yet to see a Wheatear, Redstart or Ring Ouzel. Or, amazingly, a Yellowhammer! Hopefully, the opportunity hasn't gone as we approach the May bank holiday weekend. May! It is amazing how the winter drags on, seemingly forever, and then spring arrives and is gone in a flash.

There are few days are coming up I can look forward to, plus a couple days I have booked off to go to Dungeness a week on Monday – although I was tempted by Portland Bill. Hopefully, the winds will be kind and the Pomarine Skua passage will be in full swing.