Monday, 10 February 2020

Stormy Spoonbill surprise

After a relatively quiet but clement morning on the patch on Saturday I - no doubt like many other birders around the country - spent Sunday catching up on various household chores and computer stuff, interjected with just the odd glimpse out of the window with the bins as and when the rain eased off.

Around 16:30 the rain stopped again and I decided to brave opening the bedroom window to have a quick scan of the North Brooks with the scope. I almost immediately clapped eyes on a large white bird among some Canada Geese which, despite the wind and poor light, I quickly realised was a Spoonbill!

Only my second patch record, and the first one at Pulborough since 2018, I hurriedly got some record shots and circulated the news. A little while later it flew off, presumably just to roost, as it was back on the North Brooks again this morning. At closer range and in better light, Alan Kitson was able to observe it was an adult and bearing a yellow flag on its left leg, indicating it's of Dutch origin. (thanks to Ed Stubbs for pointing this out)
Photo: Alan Kitson

Friday, 31 January 2020

Woodcock watch

The noticeably brighter evenings this past week have certainly lifted the spirits and allowed just enough light for me to get to the Brooks a couple of times after work, with one particular species in mind.

A couple of failed attempts at getting the usual year tick Woodcock flying from roost over the car park at Pulborough had me heading for Wiggonholt Heath instead. I've seen the species flush up from there and the Black Wood area before so had a hunch there must be a fair few roosting there somewhere.

On Tuesday night I got to Black Pond a little after 17:00 and, after a few false alarm Snipe flew over, sure enough I was rewarded with two Woodcock in close succession a little after 17:20; both heading north over the trees towards the main reserve.

Another try the following night again produced two Woodcock plus at least 20 Snipe, flying up from the heath in small groups - all heading north over the trees. By the time most of the Snipe went up it was almost too dark to make out any definition in their shapes but I'm sure there must be a Jack Snipe hiding in there somewhere...

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Pulborough, 25th-26th January

A productive weekend of pedestrian birding in which I covered ten miles on foot across the two days, and was rewarded with five patch year ticks.

The clear highlight was the redhead Smew which I just missed at West Mead yesterday morning (seen by Gary Trew and the 'dawn of the ducks' crowd) but caught up with on the North Brooks today.

Other bits of note were the lingering ringtail Hen Harrier, a cream cap Marsh Harrier, 3 Ruff, 2 Dunlin, hundreds of Black-tailed Godwit, up to 8 Little Egret, 120+ Common Gull, 3 Barn Owl, 2 Peregrine and singles of Green Sandpiper over towards the sewage works on Saturday and Brambling over the Hanger on Sunday - the latter a very welcome addition to the year list in what seems to be a very poor winter for the species. Indeed, I didn't record a single one at Pulborough in 2019. Hopefully a good omen for 2020!

Showy Water Vole at Redstart Corner pond on Saturday

Friday, 17 January 2020

Scotland, 11th-14th January

Just back from a great long weekend in Scotland with Ed Stubbs, Sam Jones and Abel Barker, which saw all of us come home with at least one lifer - in my case Capercaillie, Snow Goose and Crested Tit, plus my first proper views of Red Grouse can you believe! Despite all the excitement of encountering new species and the stunning scenery, and as twee as it may sound, I'd have to say the best moment for me was hand feeding Coal Tits at Loch Garten.

Ed has written an excellent report of the trip on his blog, but I just thought I'd share a few of my pics and videos on here.
Snow Goose, New Cumnock

Red Grouse, The Cairnwell

Bilberry growing through the snow

Mountain Hare

Atop The Cairnwell


Capercaillie poo!

Abernethy Forest




Friday, 3 January 2020

2019 Pulborough patch review

Well, 2019 really seemed to fly by. I didn't manage to beat last year's 149 on the Pulborough patch list but 143 is still a pretty respectable total, especially given the rather poor showing from waders this year. The best birds of the year were arguably the two Red-necked Phalaropes, an adult male in June and a juvenile in September - the first and second records of this species on the reserve.

Although I've got rather out of the habit of regularly blogging my patch stuff, I thought I'd still do a bit of an annual round-up - for posterity as much as anything. As was the case with my 2018 round-up, it's largely biased towards birds, with a particular focus on scarce and rare species and interesting high counts and arrivals of a selection of commoner species. This is just an overview of my own records and a few highlights that I've been able to glean from other birders and the internet. Please do comment or drop me a message if you notice any glaring errors or omissions, as I'm sure there'll be a few!

As ever, all credit must go to the RSPB team for their hard work on making the reserve better and better, not just for birds but a whole host of wildlife. One personal highlight was hearing my first Field Cricket singing on the heath on 19th May. Do keep an eye on the official RSPB Pulborough blog for more up-to-date info and great photos from the staff and volunteers.
If I do a similar year review at the end of 2020 I plan to write it in the form of more detailed species accounts in taxonomic order, akin to a county bird report, but for this year I've stuck with the monthly summary format and added a simple species list at the end.

All photos used are my own unless otherwise stated. I don't think I have but if I've inadvertently used anyone's photo without giving a credit, please let me know!


January

It was altogether a rather more sedate start to the patch yearlist than in 2018 and, after last winter's glut, the only Hawfinch of the year to be reported was one on the 2nd - sadly I didn't manage to find the observer's name, so if it was you please let me know! As is so often the way, 'easy species' suddenly prove hard to come by when the birder is looking to add them to a new yearlist, and so it proved with Marsh Harriers once January began as it took me until the 12th to catch up with one!
Frosty South Brooks, mid-January. Photo: Phil Thornton
Two Black Swans were an incongruous sight at Winpenny on the 6th and there was a report of a Crossbill on the heath on the 11th. A ringtail Hen Harrier or possibly two were seen by separate observers from Hail's View and over the North Brooks on the 12th (Christine Lindsay) - and again on the 21st - while a Woodcock flew past Hail's View on the same day. As ever, those in desperate need of adding the latter species to their year lists were rewarded with flyovers by simply standing on the edge of the car park at dusk - thanks again to Gary Trew for this top tip! Seven Ruff on the 5th proved to be my highest count of the year.
Fieldfare. Photo: Mike Jerome

A particularly difficult species to catch up with on the reserve nowadays, three Grey Partridges were a treat for the regular Friday crew, seen across the river from Winpenny on the 18th (Chris & Juliet Moore et al). The overwintering Woodlark flock persisted in Upperton's Field, most reliably seen at dusk when the birds flew to roost, peaking at nineteen on the 18th.
Woodlarks flying to roost
By the end of the month a singing male was being heard towards the heath. I finally caught up with the overwintering White-fronted Geese duo on the 27th. Never numerous and always a delight to see, there were two Firecrests together in brambles near the visitor centre on the 20th.
White-fronted Geese

February

A pair of Great Black-backed Gulls - not a common sight on the deck at Pulborough - and a Merlin were seen fairly regularly early in the month while Gary Trew reported eight Woodlarks, twenty Golden Plover and one Dunlin on the 5th. Another 30+ Golden Plover flew south past Hail's View on the 10th.
Great Black-backed Gulls
A first winter Caspian Gull was briefly on the North Brooks on the 9th - a first site record, while a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen on the South Brooks on the same day and again on the 10th. Gary Trew reported 500 Black-tailed Godwits and a Chiffchaff with a 'Siberian-like call' on the 12th. Indeed, Chiffchaffs generally started appearing and singing around the reserve well before the end of February - rather earlier than usual as they don't tend to winter onsite - perhaps local wintering birds slowly relocating or early migrants brought up from the continent on the same warm winds that delivered some very early hirundines to other parts of the country.
Caspian Gull (third bird from the front), 9th February
Carey Lodge had 600+ Black-tailed Godwits on the 13th, including the ringed individual 'WY-YX' which has been visiting the reserve every winter since 2009, and was originally ringed as an adult in Iceland in 2003. The two White-fronted Geese remained present, reported on the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th and 19th.
A drake Goosander in front of Little Hanger hide on the 16th was a first for me at Pulborough; it stayed for a short while before flying, circling the North Brooks a few times and then heading off northwest.
Goosander leaving the North Brooks, 16th February
Two Mediterranean Gulls flew south on the 17th, while a Great Crested Grebe was at Winpenny on the 22nd - a nice find by the Friday gang and one of two I missed this year, it's turning into possibly the commonest bird I've still yet to see Pulborough! The first returning Redshank on the 23rd provided a pleasant reminder of the approach of spring.

March

The two White-fronted Geese continued their long stay throughout the month, last being reported on the 25th. On the 1st they were joined by a single Brent Goose. The first of several Merlin sightings of the month also came on the 1st. The 2nd produced the first Curlew of the year, and flyover Crossbill(s) heard over Green Lane - my only record of this species here this year.
Curlew
Two Curlews were present on the 3rd, followed by two Green Sandpipers on the 8th. Wader arrivals continued with another Curlew on the 11th and the first Little Ringed Plover on the 17th (at least three by the end of the month).
Little Ringed Plovers

The first Sand Martin of the year was seen on the 4th, followed by the first double figure count on the 22nd. The first House Martins (two to three) were over the North Brooks on the 24th. The first Swallow of the year arrived on the 30th followed by double figures on the 31st.

Two Little Gulls flew past Christine Lindsay's flat overlooking the North Brooks on the 4th, while single first winters were seen on the 15th and the 18th.

A Cattle Egret in the cow field between the North Brooks and the village on the afternoon of the 10th was a patch tick for me; it stayed until dusk when it flew off southwest, presumably to roost at Arundel.
Cattle Egret in the cow field between the reserve and the village, 10th March
A Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was heard calling in the vicinity of the paddocks on the very eastern edge of the reserve in the middle of the month; a very welcome sound anywhere these days and a tantalising suggestion that the species may just about still be hanging on as a breeder locally after a record of a single bird frequenting this area of the reserve at the very end of 2018.
Redshanks at West Mead

A Stone-curlew (or possibly two - two sets of calls a couple of hours apart) on the 22nd was undoubtedly my nocmig highlight of the year (video of sound recording below) although it was a good spring for overnight Common Scoter migration with calls recorded on four nights between the 18th and the 25th.

Garganeys were seen on the North Brooks on the 28th and from Hail's View on the 29th.
Always a delight to hear, the first Willow Warbler of the year was singing in Black Wood on the 29th.
Garganey


April

Continuing the Garganey theme from the end of March, the species became rather a mainstay of April, with at least two drakes seen on and off throughout the month.

The last Merlin sightings of the 'winter' came on the 2nd and the 5th.
Bullfinch
Among all the other migration excitement, April is now increasingly punctuated by steady Mediterranean Gull movement, and this began in earnest with four on the 2nd, followed by various other records throughout the month, including an impressive single flock of 16 north on the 12th.
The flock of Mediterranean Gulls flying north on the 12th
The first Whitethroat of the year arrived on the 9th, while Paul Davy had a Great White Egret on the North Brooks on the same day, which only stayed briefly before flying off south - luckily I was able to scope it from the attic as it proved to be my only record of the year here, the species almost matched by Cattle Egret records in 2019 - perhaps not all that surprising really given the remarkable winter for the latter species.
Whitethroat. Photo: Paul Davy
It proved to be a good spring for Whimbrel, with the first two of the year arriving on the 11th and remaining until the 12th; these were then followed by two more on the 24th/25th, four on the 26th/27th and seven on the 30th. The 30th also saw the only record of Oystercatcher on the deck (several nocmig records) with one on the North Brooks (Gary Trew).
Whimbrels. Photo: Paul Davy
A month of many 'firsts for the year' continued with two Greenshanks and the first Lesser Whitethroats on the14th and the first Nightingale singing by Little Hanger hide on the 16th (Gary Trew) - by the 20th there were four of the latter singing around the reserve. The first Cuckoo, meanwhile, arrived on the 18th, along with two Wheatears, the latter rather thin on the ground this spring.

On the 21st I put another patch bogey bird to bed when an Osprey circled over the North Brooks at c.09:25 then flew northwest and appeared to dive down into the Arun over towards Stopham. Seemingly the only record of the year for the reserve.
Yellowhammer
Another Greenshank was present on the 20th, followed by two together on the 24th. The first Hobby of the year came on the 25th, closely followed by the first Swift on the 26th, while a single Avocet was present on the 26th and 27th.
Little Ringed Plover. Photo: Carey Lodge
Spring proved to be very much springing for the breeding waders with the first Lapwing chicks arriving towards the end of the month, and Redshanks getting busy making their own...
Redshanks - full of the joys of spring

Lapwing


May

The seven Whimbrel lingered on from April into the first week of May at West Mead, often surprisingly hard to find in the long grass. The first Wood Sandpiper of the year arrived on the North Brooks on the 7th.
Garden Warbler, 5th May. Photo: Gary Trew
Waders continued arriving into the second week with a Greenshank and three Ringed Plover on the 8th, a single Avocet on the 9th, then two Avocet, six Ringed Plover and a dozen Dunlin on the 10th and the 12th. The Avocet pair remained until the 14th.
Greenshank at West Mead

Avocets
The first two Spotted Flycatchers of the year were near Little Hanger on the 10th (John Russell), followed by at least three in Black Wood on the 14th. My first and, tragically, only Yellow Wagtail of the spring flew over West Mead on the 11th. The first Honey-buzzard of the year was seen in flight for around four minutes from West Mead on the 10th (Alan Baker/Warren Buckthorpe/John Dodds/Dave Sneller).

Paul Davy had an unexpected find on the evening of the 16th in the form of a Pink-footed Goose at West Mead, which stayed until at least the 21st.
Pink-footed Goose at West Mead
A Cattle Egret in splendid breeding plumage was briefly at West Mead on the 18th (Paul Davy)
Cattle Egret. Photo: Paul Davy
Black-winged Stilts are more or less annual on the reserve nowadays it seems but are always a joy to see. Two on the North Brooks on the 21st were a nice find for Gary Trew after a tip-off from another birder whose identity will remain a mystery.
Black-winged Stilt, 21st May. Photo: Gary Trew
The first returning Nightjars arrived back by the third week of the month - with three males putting on a tremendous show on the heath on the 24th (video below) - and a Woodcock was seen in flight over the heath on the 19th.


June

Following on from last month's bird, another Honey-buzzard flew high east at 11:00 on the 8th - an exciting sight for Dick Senior and could have easily been bird of the month were it not topped by the bird of the year a few days later. On the afternoon of the 13th a tweet from Anna Allum alerted me and many other birders to the presence of a Phalarope spinning on the North Brooks - Alan Kitson was one of the first onsite to confirm its identity as a Red-necked Phalarope - a first site record for Pulborough! This handsome adult male stayed overnight and into the 14th, enabling many birders to catch up with it.
Red-necked Phalarope - Dave Carlsson
Further signs of return wader movement continued with a Green Sandpiper on the 15th and, rather unexpectedly, a Wood Sandpiper on the 18th - presumably a failed breeder. By the end of the month wader migration had really stepped up a gear, with two each of Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper and Black-tailed Godwit on the 25th, and three Green Sandpiper on the 26th.
Green Sandpiper. Photo: Paul Davy
Sadly it wasn't such good news for the breeding waders this year, with a reduced survival rate on Lapwing and Redshank chicks, compared to last year. Snipe were seen by the dedicated surveying team, well into the breeding season, and drumming was heard in April and May. A pair of Redshank bred unusually close to West Mead hide, allowing great views of the adults displaying and defending their four chicks against predators - even perching in trees at times.
Treetop Redshank near West Mead. Photo: Phil Thornton
Redshank chick at West Mead. Photo: Phil Thornton
Better news for Nightingales though as family groups were seen around the reserve early in the month, including at least five together along Adder Alley on the 9th.
Kingfishers in the mist along The Arun


July

High summer is often the time when birders' attentions are distracted by other wildlife, and Pulborough certainly offers plenty of non-avian species of interest to even the casual naturalist. Following on from my White-letter Hairstreak sighting last summer, it was great to hear that the presence of a colony was confirmed in 2019, with several individuals seen around the Elms near the top of the Zig Zag path, including duelling males.
White-letter Hairstreak, Zig-Zag, 3rd July. Photo: Carey Lodge
Despite only the North Brooks holding the remaining water onsite, return wader passage continued gaining momentum with 18 Black-tailed Godwits on the 2nd and 43 by the 8th. Six Avocets were on the North Brooks from the 5th to the 15th, with five still present on the 16th. Little Ringed Plover numbers increased too, peaking at nine on the 12th. A Wood Sandpiper which arrived on 28th July stayed for a fortnight, eventually leaving on 11th August, seemingly finding enough food in the same few small pools every day. The morning of the 30th produced an impressive huddle of 31 Redshanks and 2 Greenshanks on the North Brooks.
Redshanks and Greenshanks in flight

Wood Sandpiper. Photo: Paul Davy
Finding ringed birds and discovering their movements is always a fascinating pastime, and it turned out one of the Avocets was a male ringed as a chick at Needs Ore near Beaulieu in June 2014. It has since spent every winter at Poole Harbour in Dorset. In 2019 it successfully bred with an unringed female at Normandy Lagoon near Lymington, rearing four chicks. Many thanks must go to Graham Giddens - who ringed the bird - for this comprehensive info.
The ringed Avocet on the North Brooks
As was the case last year, a very early returning Whinchat was on the North Brooks on the 6th. It certainly makes one wonder as to the origin of these birds.
Black-tailed Godwits
Paul Davy had a nice find on the 12th in the form of a juvenile Cuckoo being fed by its Dunnock foster parents near Wiggonholt church. It was present again the following day enabling many birders to enjoy this special sight - a first for some, including me.
Juvenile Cuckoo
Polecat was an unexpected sight running past me near Banks Cottage on the 6th, with other sightings around the reserve around the same time. Regular sightings of Water Vole were also recorded, in what seemed to be a good year for them, with Nettley's Hide and Redstart Corner seemingly the most reliable spots at which to see one.
Water Vole. Photo: Phil Thornton
The first Common Gull of 'autumn' flew south over the North Brooks on the 13th while a Whimbrel flew west calling early on the 19th.
Common Gull

Kestrel
A Great White Egret was on the North Brooks on the 19th and 21st. The 27th was arguably the best day of the month, producing a Garganey, thirteen Green Sandpipers on the North Brooks, a juvenile Mediterranean Gull south and a singing Willow Warbler at Banks Cottage - my first post-breeding dispersing bird.

Late July and early August saw the emergence of plenty of lovely fresh Painted Ladies, presumably the offspring of the many migrant individuals which came flooding into the country earlier in the year.
Painted Lady


August

August got off to an auspicious start with a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull briefly on the North Brooks for twenty minutes on the morning of the 3rd - a target species for me on the patch and seemingly the first site record for many years.
Yellow-legged Gull, 3rd August

A Great White Egret flew over on the 4th, while a juvenile Cetti's Warbler was observed skulking through the vegetation on the North Brooks on the 7th.
Wader highlights this month included a single Ringed Plover on the 8th and thirteen Green Sandpipers on the 9th.

Last month's Cuckoo performance was, remarkably, repeated by a different juvenile being fed by Reed Warblers along the banks of the Arun from the 11th to the 17th, at least.
Juvenile Cuckoo
My first nocmig Tree Pipit on the 13th was followed by one along Adder Alley on the 26th (John Russell) and one over the heath on the 29th. A staple of early autumn migration at the Brooks, Redstarts began appearing around the usual areas - the fencelines in the centre of the reserve - from around the 14th, peaking at four on the 17th.
Redstart. Photo: Andy Ashdown
There was a flurry of sightings of Marsh Tit in Black Wood towards the end of the month - an encouraging sight and sound as the species continues its sad downward trend, both locally and nationally. A very pleasant find on a rainy day was a Wood Warbler on the edge of the heath on the 18th, with the same bird or another seen again in Black Wood on the 23rd.
Marsh Tit in Black Wood. Photo: Chris & Juliet Moore

Following on from records in May and June, the third Honey-buzzard of the year came on the 21st, with one soaring over the North Brooks for several minutes (David Campbell/Chris & Juliet Moore). The same bird or another was reported from West Mead the following day.
Honey-buzzard (right hand bird), 21st August. Photo: Chris & Juliet Moore
In another excellent migration season for them, it was only a matter of time before Pulborough hosted another Pied Flycatcher, and sure enough I was lucky enough to find one on the edge of the heath early on the 29th.
Pied Flycatcher, 29th August
North Brooks at its late summer low, mid-August. Photo: Paul Davy


September

In an otherwise rather quiet month for waders (aside from 25+ Snipe on the 4th) - probably due to the continued low water levels - the standout bird was undoubtedly the juvenile Red-necked Phalarope which I found busily feeding on the North Brooks at dawn on the 11th. Thankfully this one stayed a good deal longer than the June bird - a whole week in fact - meaning many birders got to see it.
Red-necked Phalarope. Photo: George Kinnard
While everyone was getting in a spin over the Phalarope, the first ten Pintail of the autumn also returned on the 11th, hot on the heels of the first Wigeon on the 8th.

The Marsh Tit residency continued into September with one heard in Black Wood on the 2nd (my 140th species of the year here).

The usual selection of migrant passerines passed through in reasonable numbers. At least six Wheatears were out on the hay bales on the North Brooks on the 1st, while the 8th produced two each of Spotted Flycatcher and Whinchat. My last Whinchat of the year was present on the 26th. I had my last two Willow Warblers of the year on the 15th. After a disappointing spring for the species, there was a steady stream of Yellow Wagtails through the reserve this month, peaking at at least seven on the 8th, my last record of the year coming on the 22nd.
Spotted Flycatcher. Photo: Paul Davy
September always see visible migration step up a gear and highlights this month included a dozen Golden Plover over on the 29th and at least 700 hirundines south-east on the 22nd, mostly House Martin. Two Sand Martins on the 24th were my last of the year here.

October

Aside from a Cetti's Warbler along the Arun on a few dates and a steady increase in wintering wildfowl and Lapwings, the first half of the month was largely without fanfare. I had my first Pulborough Redwing of the second winter period on the 6th and the first Fieldfare on the 26th.

A possible Yellow-browed Warbler was reported along Adder Alley on the 17th, and again at Hail's View the following day. A flock of circa fifty Siskins west over the Hanger on the 18th was my highest count of the year. The first Merlin of the winter was seen by Gary Trew on the North Brooks on the 22nd. At least three Marsh Harriers were seen on the 26th.
Merlin. Photo: Chris & Juliet Moore
Four Golden Plover flew over on the 19th, while the same day also produced at least 24 Mediterranean Gulls on the South Brooks. A Ring Ouzel was a nocmig first for me on the 17th (video of sound recording below). A male Hen Harrier - an increasingly uncommon sight these days - flew south on the 17th (Nick Paul). I had my last Swallow of the year on the 26th.
The very end of the month produced a flurry of excitement, with a rather late Wood Sandpiper found by Gary Trew on the 29th, followed by a nice trio of Cattle Egret, Brent Goose and Pink-footed Goose for Chris & Juliet Moore the following day - plus a flyover Curlew.
Brent Goose, 30th October. Photo: Chris & Juliet Moore


November

The aforementioned Brent Goose and Wood Sandpiper both lingered into November, staying until the 1st and 3rd, respectively. A Merlin was also seen on the 1st, with sightings of this enigmatic species becoming more regular again through the month. Over a hundred Pintail were present on the 2nd.
Wood Sandpiper, 1st November. Photo: Chris & Juliet Moore

A ringtail Hen Harrier was seen quartering over the South Brooks on the 15th, 21st and 23rd, and over the North Brooks on the 24th. A Black Swan was also on the Mid Brooks on the 23rd. A gang of Ravens became a regular feature in the last few months of the year, peaking at six on the 3rd of this month. Black-tailed Godwit numbers continued to grow, with at least 250 present on the 3rd.

Two Short-eared Owls were present on the 15th, with one lingering for several days thereafter.
A Great White Egret was in front of Winpenny on the 22nd, then flew off towards the visitor centre (Chris & Juliet Moore, et al)
Great White Egret, 22nd November. Photo: Chris & Juliet Moore
The wintering Woodlark flock returned to Uppertons Field, with thirteen seen flying up from there on the 10th.

A redhead Smew was present, briefly, on the 24th - first at West Mead before flying over to the North Brooks and then eventually flying off east - perhaps the same bird which arrived at Rye Harbour ten days later, which as far as I can tell is the only other record of the species anywhere in Sussex so far this winter?
Smew at West Mead, 24th November. Photo: Mike Jerome


December

A Short-eared Owl was seen a few times early in the month - generally on the North Brooks (video below). A Black Swan was again with the Canada Geese on the Mid Brooks on the 8th, while at least three Marsh Harriers were around the reserve on the same day. Eight Woodlarks were seen in Uppertons Field on the 10th (Gary Trew). The second Goosander of the year, a redhead, was briefly on the South Brooks on the 14th - seen from Hail's View before it flew off south.

Two White-fronted Geese were observed from Winpenny on the 18th (Carey Lodge) then seen again on the 20th, 23rd (Chris & Juliet Moore) and 24th (Paul Davy).
White-fronted Geese, 18th December. Photo: Carey Lodge
After a few false alarms earlier in the winter, a month's worth of rain in the middle of the month saw the Arun and Stor rivers both overtop their banks overnight on the 19th/20th and by the morning the Brooks was well on the way to being one unbroken water body - the first 'bank to bank' flood on site since 2013.

It didn't take long for deeper water birds to start moving in, with a Great Crested Grebe on the South Brooks on the 20th, seven Pochard on the 23rd (and four on the 26th) and a steady invasion of Tufted Ducks, peaking at at least 24 on the 27th - by far my highest count of the species here.
Water gushing into the reserve from the Arun. Photo: Phil Thornton

The footpath from the reserve to the village underwater. Photo: Phil Thornton
On the morning of the 21st a flock of 24 Barnacle Geese flew in near Winpenny, staying for a couple of hours before flying north - the same morning also produced thousands of ducks, 450+ Black-tailed Godwits and single flyovers of Ruddy Shelduck and Grey Plover, the latter two my only records of both species at Pulborough this year.

On Christmas Eve, Paul Davy had a Cetti's Warbler singing by Little Hanger hide while on Christmas Day another or the same one was singing at Winpenny.
Barnacle Geese over the Mid Brooks, 21st December


Sadly the flooding will have severely impacted the small mammal and invertebrate populations, the latter evident from the amount of bugs in the hides - especially Winpenny - within days of the water level rising. An unusual sight on a couple of occasions was a Grass Snake in Winpenny hide, and on Christmas Eve an Adder had to be rescued from inside!
Grass Snake in Winpenny hide, 23rd December. Photo: Chris & Juliet Moore


2019 Pulborough total bird list

1. Brent Goose
2. Canada Goose
3. Barnacle Goose
4. Greylag Goose
5. Pink-footed Goose
6. White-fronted Goose
7. Mute Swan
8. Egyptian Goose
9. Shelduck
10. Mandarin Duck
11. Garganey
12. Shoveler
13. Gadwall
14. Wigeon
15. Mallard
16. Pintail
17. Teal
18. Pochard
19. Tufted Duck
20. Smew
21. Goosander
22. Red-legged Partridge
23. Grey Partridge
24. Pheasant
25. Little Grebe
26. Great Crested Grebe
27. Grey Heron
28. Cattle Egret
29. Little Egret
30. Great White Egret
31. Cormorant
32. Osprey
33. Sparrowhawk
34. Marsh Harrier
35. Hen Harrier
36. Red Kite
37. Buzzard
38. Water Rail
39. Moorhen
40. Coot
41. Oystercatcher
42. Black-winged Stilt
43. Avocet
44. Lapwing
45. Golden Plover
46. Grey Plover
47. Ringed Plover
48. Little Ringed Plover
49. Whimbrel
50. Curlew
51. Black-tailed Godwit
52. Ruff
53. Dunlin
54. Woodcock
55. Snipe
56. Red-necked Phalarope
57. Common Sandpiper
58. Green Sandpiper
59. Redshank
60. Wood Sandpiper
61. Greenshank
62. Black-headed Gull
63. Mediterranean Gull
64. Little Gull
65. Common Gull
66. Great Black-backed Gull
67. Herring Gull
68. Caspian Gull
69. Yellow-legged Gull
70. Lesser Black-backed Gull
71. Feral Pigeon
72. Stock Dove
73. Woodpigeon
74. Collared Dove
75. Cuckoo
76. Barn Owl
77. Tawny Owl
78. Little Owl
79. Short-eared Owl
80. Nightjar
81. Swift
82. Kingfisher
83. Great Spotted Woodpecker
84. Green Woodpecker
85. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (audio recordings)
86. Kestrel
87. Merlin
88. Hobby
89. Peregrine
90. Jay
91. Magpie
92. Jackdaw
93. Rook
94. Carrion Crow
95. Raven
96. Coal Tit
97. Marsh Tit
98. Blue Tit
99. Great Tit
100. Woodlark
101. Skylark
102. Sand Martin
103. Swallow
104. House Martin
105. Cetti's Warbler
106. Long-tailed Tit
107. Willow Warbler
108. Chiffchaff
109. Sedge Warbler
110. Reed Warbler
111. Blackcap
112. Garden Warbler
113. Lesser Whitethroat
114. Whitethroat
115. Goldcrest
116. Firecrest
117. Wren
118. Nuthatch
119. Treecreeper
120. Starling
121. Blackbird
122. Fieldfare
123. Redwing
124. Song Thrush
125. Mistle Thrush
126. Spotted Flycatcher
127. Pied Flycatcher
128. Robin
129. Nightingale
130. Redstart
131. Whinchat
132. Stonechat
133. Wheatear
134. House Sparrow
135. Dunnock
136. Yellow Wagtail
137. Grey Wagtail
138. Pied Wagtail
139. Meadow Pipit
140. Tree Pipit
141. Chaffinch
142. Hawfinch
143. Bullfinch
144. Greenfinch
145. Linnet
146. Lesser Redpoll
147. Crossbill
148. Goldfinch
149. Siskin
150. Yellowhammer
151. Reed Bunting


Nocmig only

Common Scoter
Stone-curlew
Ring Ouzel

Escapes

Bar-headed Goose
Black Swan
Ruddy Shelduck
Presumed Australian x Ruddy Shelduck