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.

Friday 4 August 2017


The month's seem to be flying by this year. It's August already and as far as birding is concerned I've done very little since my last post in June.

Gavin Haig of the excellent Not Quite Scilly blog recently wrote an post concerning 'phasing'. This is a state of mind where birding doesn't hold the same appeal as it once had. It's someone birders drift in and out of and is someone I can definitely relate to. I'd say my interest in birding is always there in some form or other, but I have to be honest and say I have fluctuated into this phasing state on many occasions this year. There have been numerous times I simply haven't been arsed with it all.

The local patch has been shelved for a couple of months and when I have had the time to go birding I've chosen to go on a twitch more than do patch work. Of late, I've gone over to Cliffe Pools a couple of times to try and locate the juvenile Marsh Sandpiper that has been present for some weeks now.

The first attempt was a couple of weeks ago, prior to a visit to my mum's in Margate. I managed to get to Cliffe about 15 minutes before a Peregrine had flown over the area and had sent all the waders and gulls up into the air. It meant the Marsh Sandpiper, having been in a spot where views were good on Radar Pool, had cleared off and completely disappeared. It wasn't seen again all that day.

A juvenile Black-winged Stilt at Cliffe Pools
I did get see to see the successfully breeding Black-winged Stilts and their young, with the help of a lift from Dominic Mitchell, who I happened across on my walk, and also a couple of Spoonbill.

I gave the site another go last Saturday, prior to a trip up north to Lincolnshire for work. I bumped into two pals I hadn't seen for a while, Mark Elsoffer and Steve Minhinnick (the infamous Smutty Birders from Tices Meadow), and while the banter was good, a successful twitch was looking decidedly suspect.

The Smutty Birders on tour
The Marsh Sandpiper again was playing hard to get. But luckily, another group of birders from Ashford turned up and as we viewed from the mound at the south west area of Radar Pool, namesake Neil briefly spotted the wader in the distance. At the same time another birder closer to the location flagged up the sighting on his pager, so we knew we were at last on to a winner.

After another walk alongside Radar Pool down to a closer position we eventually were on to it. A smashing little wader, the Marsh Sandpiper had obviously given up sleeping and was feeding alongside some Greenshank. The two Spoonbill were also in attendance.

Distant – but it's there. The Marsh Sandpiper on Radar Pool
So after that lifer, a more local first coaxed me into patch action yesterday lunchtime. Gordon Hay had rung the day before to say a Wood Sandpiper was on the Moors with a couple of Green Sandpiper. This bird had first been seen by Ray Baker a couple of days earlier, so it was good to discover that it was still in the area.

The weather had been atrocious all day on Wednesday and unseasonably windy yesterday, so I was fairly confident the Wood Sandpiper would still be about. And fortunately it was, sleeping with the two Green Sandpiper on the southern Moors pools next to the railway line.

A patch lifer – a Wood Sandpiper on the Moors at Holmethorpe

It eventually woke up to preen so I got to see it properly next to its green cousins. A really nice bird for the patch.

So now my birding juices have begun to flow again, although my predominant urge, with the weather as it is, is to go on a seawatch. Unfortunately, the best place for that currently is in Cornwall at Porthgwarra. What a great place that must be. Another year perhaps...


  1. Neil, had you been driving all night man, head on the wheel?

    1. Actually, that just about sums up that day. Went to Lincolnshire after Cliffe and didn't get home until gone 3am!

  2. Hi Neil - all three sandpipers look like Green to me...?

    1. Basically, that's because they are! One of those occasions where I convinced myself I'd seen the Wood Sand that had been announced the day before, and didn't here the voicemail message later that explained that is was actually a juvenile Green Sand. My usual incompetence.

    2. Easily done, Neil - I've recently seen multiple very fine birders collectively cock up a relatively straightforward identification, only for the truth to come to light later through photographs. Happens to us all!

  3. November is the month when the weather is the most pleasent. Because its the start of winters and everything looks excited after hot summers.

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