Garry Bagnell's Birding adventures



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Little Bustard right on cue

Posted on January 2, 2015 at 4:20 AM

Little Bustard is a bird most British Twitchers dream of.

Reason being the last twitchable one was from the magic1996. This had mouth watering birds including:- Double-crested Cormorant, Little Bustard, Caspian Plover, Great Knot, Long-toed Stint, Cedar Waxwing, Spanish Sparrow  & Indigo Bunting

My first BIG year of twitching was in 1996 and due to the ease of getting new birds I didn't leave the south east with out the exception of day trip to East Anglia. That year I added 22 lifers.with birds such as American Coot at Stodmarsh, Little Bittern at Epsom Stew Ponds, Golden Orioles (yes plural) at Lakenheath

Anyway fast forward to 30th December 2014. News breaks of a Little Bustard at East Guideford, East Sussex (Alan Parker). A few keen souls search the following day without any success. Then another Little Bustard is found at Fraisthorpe, East Yorkshire (Kevin Bernard).

Very fortunately I had a free day on the 1st January 2015. Just had to stay tee total at my Mother-in-llaws new years eve party. I left the party at midnight and went back home to meet John Lees and George Kinnard for a 1am departure. Picked up John Benham at Leatherhead at 1:30am and two hours later we had a lattee at Roadchef Watford Gap.

We arrived at Fraisthorpe at 7am. Car park was already full so we had to park along access track to car park. I tried to have kip before venturing out of the car into the darkness. But too many people were chatting outside the car to make this possible. Once daylight broke it took about 30 minutes for the Little Bustard to be located. It was sat in the middle of a kale field.

See if you recognise anyone in the crowd shots:-



The Little Bustard never really did much all day. It occasionally eat a few insects on the Kale, moved a couple of meters and tried to close it's eyes regularly. We would liked to have seen the Little Bustard fly, and see its amazing wing pattern.

We left the Bustard in peace at 10:30am and went to see Johnny Holidays Blyth's Pipit. Got hope at 19:30pm. The estimated petrol cost of Brighton to Yorkshire and back was £100. So not a bad day out for £25 each and very nice to see over 1000 twitchers enjoying the New Year.

Sadly the next day the Little Bustard was not seen, with approximately 100 people left disappointed. I don't think the Little Bustard ever left the site and probably died in its sleep.



Happy New Year PEEPS!

Posted on December 30, 2014 at 8:20 AM

Just like to wish everybody that visits my website a happy new year.


Sorry for the lack of posting on here during 2014.

It was a combination of lack of birds, patio & lawn construction, computer problems and lack of motivation on my part.

Anyway 2015 is almost here and a liitle bustard was found in sussex today. So I'm hoping my first post will be me putting a Little Bustard on my British List. Fingers crossed.

Total Bird species for each European Country

Posted on August 7, 2014 at 1:35 PM
Rank Country Species 1st Russia 780 2nd Portugal (Inc Azores) 600 3rd United Kingdom 596 4th Spain 563 5th France 541 6th Italy 527 7th Germany 514 8th Kazakhstan 513 9th Sweden 501 10th Turkey 476 11th Norway 473 12th Ireland 464 13th Netherlands 463 14th Denmark 452 15th Finland 450 16th Poland 446 17th Greece 442 18th Belgium 436 19th Ukraine 425 20th Hungary 424 21st Austria 416 22nd Bulgaria 402 23rd Switzerland 397 24th Czech Republic 394 25th Malta 384 26th Romania 383 27th Serbia 381 28th Slovenia 376 29th Cyprus 374 30th Azerbaijan 371 31st Iceland 370 32nd Croatia 369 33rd Slovakia 364 34th Georgia 361 35th Armenia 359 36th Albania 353 37th Latvia 344 38th Lithuania 342 39th Estonia 339 40th Macedonia 335 41st Montenegro 330 42nd Belarus 317 43rd Bosnia and Herzegovina 316 44th Moldova 300 45th Luxembourg 289 46th Liechtenstein 247 47th Andorra 161 48th Monaco 107 49th San Marino 96

Patio's 'r' us

Posted on July 27, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Future British & Irish Lifer Predictions

Posted on July 7, 2014 at 6:15 PM

Purple Emperors for beginners

Posted on July 6, 2014 at 2:05 PM

On Saturday I shot down to Selsey for a chance on the Black-browed Albatross that was spotted at Portland at 7am. I didn't really expect to connect with it but it was nice to get out birding for a few hours.

Whilst down there I had a chat with Chunky & Simon King, Owen Mitchell and Adam Bowley. Adam mentioned that the Purple Emperors had been showing at Botany Bay in Childdingfold Forest, Surrey. I've never twitched any butterflies before, but Purple Emperors are the 2nd biggest British Butterfly and pictures of them do look quite awesome. We discussed what weather is best to see them and Adam felt today was just a bit too windy and cloudy.

 I stayed at  Selsey for a couple of hours and I eventually left at 12:30pm. On the way back it was nice to see 3 Green Sands, 1 Common Sand and 1 sum pl. Spotted Redshank at Siddlesham Ferry Pool and a family party of Peregrines at Chichester Cathedral. Glad to see the R.S.P.B. educating passerby's with their considerable knowledge of this nesting Falcons.

Purple Emperor @ Botany Bay, Surrey Sunday 6th July 2014

White Admiral @ Botany Bay, Surrey Sunday 6th July 2014

So on Sunday at midday the sun came out and I thought I would have a go at the emperors. The site is quite easy to find, if you leave Petworthon the A283 towards Guildford, you will eventually come to the village of Chiddingford. If you take the first major right in the village, go over a bridge and then take the next left towards Dunsfold. The wood is signposted less than a mile up on the Right hand side. The car park is small and will only allow parking for 4 cars. The Purple Emperors are best seen from an area called the "Triangle". This can be reached by walking along the path for 1/2 mile, and as soon as you come to a fork you've reached the "Triangle". The Purple Emperors generally show when its Sunny and little wind at the very top of the Oak trees at the fork.

I saw them within 15 minutes of arriving at the Triange.If you take the right hand fork I spotted a couple of White Admirals.

I will go and see a few more Butterfies before Autumn Bird Migration kicks in.

Happiness strikes Dorset

Posted on June 2, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Short-toed Eagle @ Morden Bog, Dorset Sunday 1st June 2014

1999 will long be remembered as a good year on Scilly. Good birds included Short-toed Eagle, Siberian Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, White’s Thrush, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Baltimore Oriole, 2 Upland Sandpipers, 7 Raddes Warblers, Nighthawk etc etc. It was an amazing autumn and I managed to get some of the goodies mentioned above. But I never saw the Short-toed Eagle. I didn’t really feel Short-toed Eagle would ever be twitchable in Britain again, unless it was found on an Island.

On Saturday 31st May, I started laying patio slabs at 8:00am. I left my mobile indoors and when I returned indoors for a comfort break at midday, I had a peep at my phone. The first thing I noticed was a text from RBA mentioning a Short-toed Eagle for a 10 minute spell at 10am. I instantly thought this bird would never be seen again and continued with my patio. Just after 4pm, George Kinnard rang me to say the Short-toed Eagle has been relocated and was sitting in a tree. At this stage I still had a couple of hours concrete making and slab fitting to do. My wife was also helping me and was extremely ungrateful when I aborted a shopping trip due to see a Crag Martin. So I made the decision not to go, I need to rephrase that… my wife made the decision I was not going to go.

I finished laying my last patio slab at around 7pm and then spend an hour tidying up. I tried to go to sleep at 9:45pm, but my body just wasn’t having it. I left home at 1:00am Sunday morning and 1 and ¼ hours later picked up George. This journey should only take 45 minutes, but theA24 dual carriageway was shut for re-surfacing so I had to take a detour around lots of small villages.

We arrived at Morden Bog at 4:30am and there were birders and cars everywhere. The walk to the viewing point took only 10 minutes. It was still dark and everybody waited eagerly for daylight. Once the daylight came, the Eagle couldn’t be seen due to mist. Christoper Bishop from Norfolk thought he could see the Eagle and positioned my scope to where he was looking.

Bingo 15 years of hurt as come to an end. The 2-3rd CY Short-toed Eagle was in view. Then the mist obscured it…then in view and vice versa. The whole occasion was superb, but the distance and the mist and wanting to see it fly made me feel very sleepy. I returned to the car at 6:30am for a well-earned sleep. My body was exhausted from the patio work and it was no surprise that I feel asleep for 2 hours. I woke up and made my way to the view point. Many people had wandered closer to the bird, so I decided to join them. Here the views were superb. Probably the best views I’ve ever had of a Short-toed Eagle. At 10am the Short-toed Eagle decided to leave its tree that has been its temporary home for 18 hours. The Eagle soon found a thermal and got higher and higher and eventually lost to view.

An amazing experience,…and really nice to see beaming smiles back on the faces of the people of Britain.

At 18:15pm the Eagle was back. The pager advertised this event as probable, but this sighting was good enough for some twitchers to whack it on their BUBO list. Approx. 30 twitchers witnessed this unique event.

It’s their list and if they are happy with a distant spec and feel that it’s the real deal. Then good luck to them. But if you have any doubts, best wait for the next one.

I'm almost back

Posted on May 28, 2014 at 8:45 AM

Sorry I haven't posted much recently. Been very busy at weekend digging a hole and putting things in it. But I did manage to see a nice dickie bird at Flamboro in April. See attached video.

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Chinese Pond Heron... Ardeola awesomeicus

Posted on February 23, 2014 at 9:45 AM


Chinese Pond Heron @ Saltwood, Kent Saturday 22nd February 2014

I originally went to Saltwood (near Hythe) in Kent on Saturday 15th Feb 2014. I arrived on site at 6:30am and left 2pm with a breakfast stop at the the Railway Cafe. Not the best cooked breakfast. Only 1 sausage and you have pay 10p for a tomato ketchup sachet. This long vigil didn't provide the goods.

So after the Chinese Pond Heron was seen in a combination of private gardens and public areas during the period Monday 17th to Thursday 20th February. I thought I would have another pounce.

On Saturday 22nd February my daughter Georgie was participating in a Swimming Gala at Crawley K2. I volunteered to help the organisers out on the day. So if I went for the Heron, I would have to be home by at the latest 5pm.

For some reason I woke up many times during the Friday night. At 4:50am I had enough of the restlessness and decided to get up, make some sandwiches and drive to Saltwood. I arrived at Turnpike Road, Saltwood at 6:30am. I was the second car to park. But with the next 30 mins many more cars arrived and at about 7am the Chinese Pond Heron flown to the top of a pine. It sat there for 2-3 minutes and then flew across the road into the obscured Ash. At this point everybody got out of their cars and scoped the Heron at a safe range.

The Heron can only be a Chinese Pond Heron. The 2 similar Pond Herons:- Javan and Indian don’t have such dark hood and breast parts. The head and upper breast are deep purple in colour. The Heron has got many white streaks in the head plumes. Chinese Pond Herons are the only one of the three pond herons which are migratory. They migrate from Japan to Indonesia. Which is 2600 miles. The nearest breeding population to Britain is India, which is 4400 miles away. Considering these days that Britain now gets birds from Far east. Namely:- Pale legged Warbler, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Dusky Thrush, Long-billed Murruelt, Tufted Puffin, Glaucous-winged Gull, Slaty-backed Gull, Pacific Diver etc. We also getting mega amounts of Yellow-browed, Dusky & Radde’s Warblers these days. Maybe due to global warming European Heron populations are expanding. Maybe the Chinese Pond Heron range is increasing as well. The only direction they can expand is come West. Maybe they are much closer than India now.

Nobody has traced any Chinese Pond Heron’s to be held in European Zoos. This bird is also included into the excellent “Rare Birds of Britain & Europe by Ian Lewington, Per Alstrom & Peter Colston” book.

The frequency of the Chinese Pond Heron turning up at Turnpike Road has become spasmodic. I guess this is because it is not faithful to feeding in just one garden and it is probably roaming a massive area for garden ponds now.

I guess this bird will be added by a very cautious BOU to category D. But if you keep a British and Irish list, I suggest you go. I would put an £100 bet on this bird being wild. According to HBW they breeders arrive back between March and April. So I guess this vagrant may decide to leave within a fortnight.

Chinese Pond Heron extracts from the superb HBW Volume 1

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Chinese Pond Heron @ Saltwood, Kent Saturday 22nd February 2014  

Need to go back another day.

Posted on January 26, 2014 at 2:05 PM

Possible Ferruginous Duck  @ Kingfisher Lake of Blashford Lakes complex. Hants Sunday 26th January 2014 (Crap views in pouring rain today)

1 of 3 Corn Buntings @ Burpham West Sussex 26th January 2014

Grey Partridge : Burpham W Sussex Sunday 26th January 2014

Left my house at 8:30am in the morning. Due to heavy rain forecast for the day I thought I would try to see the Ferruginous Duck today in Hampshire. I arrived at Kingfisher lake and parked my car at the end of Hurst Road. I did'n't attempt to see it last year, and its been a few years since I've seen one. Well to be honest, I wish I didn't bother going for this today. Viewing this bird through a fence, at quite a distant in heavy rain and constantly diving and when it did submerge it generally had an Island in the way. Can't say for sure if this is the Ferruginous Duck. It had a white vent, didn't note a white eyes and head shape didn't look peaked enought for me Maybe I need to go back for another look when it's not raining.

Ring-billed Gull showed on arrival at Walpole Boating Lake, Gosport. Other birds of note were 48 Brent Geese in the neaby MOD football field.

I ended the day at Burpham. No Bewick's and I was just about to go home thoroughly soaked and then it stopped raining and the sun made an appearance. Game on,....time to check out the Burpham National Park for some raptors. Birds noted were Red Kite, 6 Buzzards, Sparrowhawk, Raven, 6 Grey Partridges, 3 Corn Bunting, flock of Goldfinches, Skylarks etc. Not a bad way to end such a crap day.



Welcome to my website

My Name is Garry Bagnell. I am 46 years old and I absolutely love watching Birds.

My main birding achievement was being featured in the hit BBC-4 documentary "Twitchers-A very British Obsession". It was broadcast 9 times and I loved the whole experience.

I do keep THREE Bird lists. The list I am most passionate about is my COMBINED BRITISH & IRISH LIST. My combined WEST & EAST SUSSEX LIST brings gives me a similar pleasure and can be found on the BUBO website. European family holidays have led me to keeping my third list, which is my WESTERN PALEARCTIC LIST. This list is kept on the NETFUGL website.

My website also contains a Blog, Twitching write ups, British & Irish Rare Birds Stats,Tweets on  my TITBITS page and Jokes

Also if you need to contact me my phone number is 07789 765163 or alternatively email me on 

NOTE:- You will only see comments from me on Facebook, Twitter, Birdforum ( Any rude remarks  or negative comments on other websites WILL NOT BE ME.  

Garry Bagnell Twitter



Summary of my Birding Life

1977 - Age 10 - Started watching birds in my parents garden, then went to local parks/ woodland. Become a YOC member. Went to the Crawley & Horsham RSPB group indoor meetings. They organised monthly outings, went on a few car & coach trips in the local area.

1981 - During my many bird watching trips I went to Arundel W.W.T. for a day’s bird watching with Mushaq Ahmed. He pointed out Peter Scott to me. I went over to chat to him and he kindly singed my bird book I had on me. On the 26th July I went to Gatwick Airport with a school friend called Martin Arter. I bought a Civil Aircraft Marking Book (CAM) and I spent the rest of the day ticking off planes in my CAM. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to give up Bird watching as Plane Spotting was going to occupy a lot of my spare time.

1989 - I remember watching the news and seeing lots of birdwatchers descending on Maidstone, Kent for a Golden-winged Warbler. I was thinking about going for it, but sadly never did. So I suppose this is now, my most sought after bird for my British Isles List. Will we ever get another chance?!

1990 - Bought a house with a girlfriend.

1992 - Discovered Birdline, and had another attempt at Birdwatching/Twitching. Restricted my Birding watching/Twitching to the Southeast of Britain. I also joined the local Crawley & Horsham R.S.P.B. group as treasurer. (Shame nobody mentioned the long staying '93 Blackpoll Warbler at Bewl to me, but the R.S.P.B. members I use to chat with weren't major twitchers).

1997 - Got married for the first time.

1998 - I resigned from the post of Crawley & Horsham R.S.P.B Group Treasurer after a 6 year period. I decided to Join two chess clubs:- Crawley & Coulsdon.

1999 - Whilst working at National Grid on a year’s contract, I met Neil Howes and he showed me his Nationwide Birding Notebook. I was amazed at how many birds Neil had seen and how far he travels to see them. It made me think if I should get back into Birding/Twitching and give up the Plane Spotting. For the time being I decided to juggle both hobbies. I went to Scillies for the first time (absolutely loved it) and during my 3 day stay I found a Richard's Pipit, Ortolan Bunting (very brief view) .My Dad died of cancer during the year, so my wife and I decided to move in with mum and and help her out financially.

2000 - Big changes were made to to my life this year. Gave up Plane Spotting (a hobby I had for 19 years), smoking (17 year addiction),left my first wife and gave her the house.

2002 - I met Kim in June and decided to give up playing competitive Chess as it was not fair to Birdwatch and spend weekends playing in Chess Tournaments. During my 4 year Chess career, I achieved a chess grade of 87 (BCF) and it was still rising. I also played Chess for Sussex in the U125(BCF) division. I also got 2nd and 3rd position in some Chess tournaments.

2003 - Got married for the 2nd time to Kim. Started to twitch Ireland...please don't mention the 2000 Blue-winged Warbler that now really hurts.

2004 - My daughter "Georgie" was born. New British Birds were becoming less and less frequent, so I turned my attention to local birdwatching, which started by listing the bird species I see at Weir Wood Reservoir.

2005 - This year on 3rd March a very good friend of mine died, his name was James Havers. He died at the age of 39, whilst eating a meal at Gatwick Airport with Birding friend Andrew Bashford. James was an exceptional good birdwatcher who spent much of his short life doing bird survey work in the Crawley and Horsham area. He took me to see many scarce breeding birds he had found in the region, and he also showed me a wintering Little Bunting found in Ifield Church, Crawley '94.

2008 - Started playing darts at the Fountain Pub in Roffey.

2009 - I formed a Darts Team at the White Knight in Crawley and I decided to stop playing at the Fountain. On the 2nd August my Mother sadly died from Cancer at St. Catherines Hospice. The 6th September my family & I left Rusper and moved into my Mum's house. Since then we have spent £40k on house improvements. During the year I was selected to be filmed for a BBC4 documentary called Twitchers- A very British tradition. (Should be televised on 3rd November 2010).

2010 - Twitchers: A very British Obsession was broadcast on the 1st November on BBC-4. The programme was about twitching birds in Britain and featured Brett Richards, Craig Family, Lee Evans and myself.

2011 - Seeing Sabine's Gull at Brighton Marina on the 15th September is my 300th BOU species for the combined West & East Sussx County List.

2013 - Seeing Wilson's Warbler on 21st September on Dursey Island, County Cork might turn out to be my 500th British & Irish Lifer (BOU/ IRBC basis).  This is dependant on Elegant Tern, Slaty-back-Gull, Alder Fly & Long-toed Stint getting accepted. I met up with a Washington Post journalist & photographer who met me and John Lees in Norfolk. He took photograhs of John and I enjoying my 300th British year tick (BOU), which happened to be a Shore Lark. The article was published in Denver Post, Washington Post and Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday 15th December. The article was portrayed how competitve birdwatchers are in the UK compared to the US.


Latest Updates

Jokes - Five Minute Management Course added 13th January 2012


Long-toed Stint photo added 23rd January 2012 with a few words


Website that reciprocate my website link

Sussex Ornithological society Best website in Sussex

Penny Clarke Penny's hot birding and life

Paul Herrieven Brough Birder

Ross Newham Bald Birder

Steve Nuttal Belvide Birding

MQ Spurn blog

Barry Hunt Barry Birder

Rob Stokes Kent birding adventures

Widerscope Nick, Seth, Danny & Sam

Michael Booker  Sussex Birders

Other good places to check out

Weir Wood  Friends of Weir Wood Official Site

Mark Reeder of birds & pies

John Hague Drunkenbirder

Pete Antrobus Pods World

Gunnar Engblom Birding Blogs

Mr Black Reservoircatz

Serious stuff

British Birds Official magazine of the BBRC

BBRC Official website

BUBO Popular listing website

Netfugl Western Palearctic listing

Surfbirds Great photos and forum

Birdforum Main discussion forum

Rare Bird Alert Best pager in Britain

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Since 11th Feb 2012