Lammergeier at Beachy Head - October 2020

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Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Splash Point & Lower Cuckmere 23/02/21

On Sunday, I had to drive back to Seaford to offer my services to my parents who are still unable to get out. Of course, I decided to make the most of it, arriving at Splash Point for first light where only a trio of Shags were present offshore and the odd passing auk and Common Scoter.

Afterwards, I parked up on Seaford Head and walked the Cuckmere. No doubt the highlight was three Water Pipits which were present on the west side, and at one point, feeding together. Also present were a handful of Scandinavian Rock Pipits, two Knot and a Bar-tailed Godwit. The gull flock was fairly poor although it did contain a good number of adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Scandinavian Rock Pipit in flight

Water Pipits in Lower Cuckmere

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Bob Izzard RIP

Today, I found out the saddening news that local birder, and overall good friend, Bob Izzard, sadly passed away a couple of days ago.

Bob could often be encountered down Cuckmere Haven where he spent countless hours watching and photographing the birds. It was during many of these sessions that Bob would find the odd good bird too. Two that spring to mind straight away are the following: Sabine's Gull at Cuckmere and the very popular Corncrake at Beachy Head. The latter was enjoyed by many during the course of its three-day stay.

Overall though, Bob was a true gent and always had a smile on his face and was generally a joy to be around with. In recent years I sadly didn't see Bob too often due to his illness, but every Spring, he would often tap me on the shoulder as I sat down Splash Point and we'd have a nice chat.

Condolences to Bob's family, and lastly to say, Bob will certainly be missed by all the local birders who were fortunate to know him.

Bob Izzard

Corncrake - April 2013

Sabine's Gull - September 2011

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Lynchmere & Stanley Commons 20/2/2021

Today, I entered Sussex for only the third time this year to embark upon my season of a heathland bird survey on Lynchmere & Stanley Commons. They are far from the classic West Sussex commons which I'm used to, however, there is always a healthy Crossbill population here. The Brambling flock that I found in December has sadly dispersed; in fact, very few finches were present other than some flyover Lesser Redpolls and Siskins.

I found a superb viewpoint that overlooks many wooded valleys which lie to the west of Blackdown, and if I'd given it more time, no doubt a Goshawk would have emerged from this pristine habitat before too long.

A Dartford Warbler was a surprise find on a miniscule segment of heather on Stanley, but it was the Crossbills that once again provided the avian highlight of this area; otherwise, it was just overwhelmingly thrilling to be out and about in Sussex again.

Crossbills at Stanley Common - 
this male was in full song!

Friday, 12 February 2021

Chivi Vireo - Beunos Aires, Argentina 18/11/2016

It's been a while since my 5-week trip to Argentina and the Southern Oceans, however, between now and then a couple of birds have been through taxonomic splits. In 2018, the resident Chivi Vireo got split from the migratory Red-eyed Vireo; from this news I quickly remembered photographing a Red-eyed Vireo-type at Costenera Sur, where upon closer inspection, appears I had clearly photographed a Chivi!

Formally considered to be the same species as Red-eyed Vireo, genetic analysis reveals the Chivi Vireo is closely related to the Black-whiskered Vireo, despite near-identical in appearance to Red-eyed. The subtle differences from Red-eyed include the lack of a red eye(!), yellow under-tail coverts and a yellow wash to the neck sides. 

This site in Buenos Aires is on the edge of the Chivi Vireo's distribution, where they comonly occur further North and West across much of South America.

Chivi Viero at Costanera Sur, B.A.

Friday, 5 February 2021

Virtual SOS Presentation on Weds 10th February

Long time no see, but fear not, at 7pm on Wednesday 10th February, I shall be giving a 35-minute presentation titled 'Autumn Bird Migration in Sussex'. This presentation will mainly be focusing on: The many different species that migrate through Sussex; the ideal weather conditions; and the optimum month, plus potential species that have yet to make it onto the Sussex list!

For further information and to sign up for FREE, please visit the SOS website ( and click on the link 'Virtual Talks'. See you on Wednesday!

Yellow-browed Warbler

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Bored of lockdown!

On Friday, I picked up my binoculars for only the second time this year... not good! I'm very much looking forward when the restrictions subside so I can get back down to the patch and kick-off my Sussex 'year list', which currently stands at 0! 

Anyway, on Friday, I saw my first daytime roosting Tawny Owl for years, close to where I live in Alton. 

I didn't realise there were two birds
in this photo initially, thankfully I hadn't
walked off!

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Been tup North over Christmas

December was a month with little or no birding down south due to a two-week self-isolation in order to spend Christmas with Sara's parents. This meant that, from the 5th, I pretty much did nothing. So, after a nice drive to Bishop Middleham, County Durham (where the Bee-eaters bred some years ago) on the 19th, I was in new territory and therefore wasn't too sure what to encounter.

It was amazing to see the difference in avifauna just around the village compared to down south; Tree Sparrows were very common, as were Grey Partridges, and it took only a few days to realise that there were Willow Tits in the area – a species I hadn't seen in the UK since 2012. Goosanders were also common along the rivers and several lakes. I had expected to see lots of Pink-footed Geese, but two were all I could muster in amongst some Canadas. A Snow Bunting was close-by at a small lake and was seen on several days, whilst the hawthorn bushes were covered in hundreds of both Redwing and Fieldfare! A possible Mealy Redpoll was seen, but without a view of the rump I wasn't too inclined to count it. 

A trip into Teesdale one day was superb, with the likes of two female Black Grouse, many Red Grouse and three Dippers being seen, but perhaps the best sighting of my entire time up there, was a superb Otter seen along the river to the north of the city of Durham. 

Otter along the River Wear

Willow Tit near Bishop Middleham

Snow Bunting at Bishop Middleham

Tree Sparrow

Pink-footed Goose

Red Grouse

Black Grouse 

Dipper along the River Tees

Castle Lake, Bishop Middleham

River Wear north of Durham

Durham Cathedral 


River Tees

Our hike up Noon Hill (530m)

View from the top

Noon Hill in the distance