Garry Bagnell's Birding adventures



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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.

Wildfowl & yankie wader bonaza

Posted on January 20, 2014 at 5:25 PM

IOW viewed Lepe @ Friday 17th January 2014

Beautiful place for a nibble

Lesser Yellowlegs @ Lepe Friday 17th January 2014 (very distant)

2 Tundra Bean's @ Scotney Sunday 19th January 2014 (getting late in the day)

Long-tailed Duck @ Scotney Sunday 19th January 2014

Well finally, I've spend the weekend in Royal Britannia. With the news of a Common Grackle in Netherlands, I decided to ignore it. Seen plenty in America and they’d be rumors starting that I'm not just going to Netherlands for the feathered birds.

Anyway after leaving work on Friday, I nipped over to Lepe for the Lesser Yellowlegs. The car park costs £2 for up to 2 hours and the walk to the pool is about 10 minutes. The Lesser Yellowlegs was spotted by Lee Middleton distantly. Got a couple of iphone5 shots and then headed home.

Saturday I had to fix the shower in the house. Which I did with a little help from a kind American on Youtube and my good lady Kim who discovered how to adjust it from scolding hot mode.

On Sunday, John Lees popped over at 7:10am. We headed to Ramsgate for the Hume's Yellow-browed Warbler. It was located by Martin Blow and newbie lister Lee Brown within 20 minutes of our arrival. Superb bird to see, nice to hear its distinctive call and this is the first one I've seen that has quite a bright yellowish patch to breast sides. But the overall upper part coloration was very drab and unlike the 100's of bright Yellow-browed Warblers I’ve seen on Shetland.

Next stop was Foreness. Noted 5 Purple Sands but sadly missed the humongous flock of Snow Bunts.

No trip to Kent is complete without a trip to Wildfowl central is it? So off we went to Dungeness. Good birds included 2 Black-throated Diver at New Diggings, ARC had a pair of Goodanders, 3 redhead Smew and every duck you could dream off apart from Pintal plus a Great White Egret.

At the entrance to the RPSB reserve were 6 Tree Sparrows. On the reserve we added a controversial Warbler. It appeared to look like a Chiffchaff but had bright legs and a brighter mantle than what you'd expect with January Chiffchaffs. The Dunge hides are such a good place to get stuck into your packed lunch. Today I ate 2 rounds of Brie and Green Grape sarnieS washed dowin with a bottle of diluted Vimto.Muncthing away I spotted many Pintail and a calling Water Rail that eventually showed well at the base of hide overlooking Burrows pit. (The one before Christmas Dell Boy hide).

My heart starting racing at Scotney, we watched in awe 3 v-formations of 65 White-fronted Geese flying towards Dungeness. They initially flew over us and then all 3 formations banked to the left to reveal their distinctive bill pattern as they dropped into Dunge. Other good birds noted here included:- Long-tailed Duck and 2 Tundra Bean Geese. Got home, just as Kim was serving up a Sunday roast. Bon appetitie.

3 Euro lifers in the bag

Posted on January 13, 2014 at 7:20 PM

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Caspian Plover @ Colijnsplaat - Nieuw-Noord-Bevelandpolder, Netherlands Sunday 12th January 2014

Tundra Bean Geese @Bevelandpolder Sunday 12th January 2014

Fantastic day trip to Netherlands. Went with John Lees and Alan Lewis and we quite simply had a ball. Superb views of Caspian Plover during a 4 hour period. I also ticked Black Swan closeby. Ended the day seeing my first ever Black Woodpecker at Oost - Vlaanderen, Belgiurm in the Maria-Aalter zuid - Hooggoed area. Just like to thank Janneke Kimstra for suggesting this Belgium Black Woodpecker site. We heard the male Black Woodpecker calling a few times and then had 2 flight views in different sections of the wood. Wow what a bird.

Also like to thank all the Dutch birders we met on site, who gave us directions and help in locating the originally very distant Caspian Plover.

Caspian Plover in Netherlands

Posted on January 11, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Caspian Plover @ Colijnsplaat - Nieuw-Noord-Bevelandpolder, Netherlands

This bird is still present today. So i've decided to go for it tonight. Leaving Crawley at 11pm and returning 10pm Sunday night. Currently got 2 spaces. Ring me on 07789-765163 if interested.

Can anyone spot the Phalarope?

Posted on January 11, 2014 at 3:45 AM

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Grey Phalarope @ Hove Lagoons, Sussex Friday 10th January 2014

Who wants a fight then.....?

Posted on January 5, 2014 at 11:50 AM

It felt like the Xmas break has lasted forever this year.I've been working at home most days of the Xmas break, but today I decided to take Kim & Georgie for a pub meal at the Hatch Inn, Ashdown Forest. After the very tasty meal we had a wander around nearby Old Lodge. Within 5 minutes we were watching 4+ Parrot Crossbills. No Common Crossbillls in sight. But 2 males and 2 females even interested my wife enought to take a peek through my scope.

They weren't feeding, whilst I was there. But for a big bird they were very difficult to see in the Pine tree. I guess all 8 Parrot Crossbills must have been in the Pine tree. But I'm just glad they've hung around to the new year. Such awesome birds of the Finch family.

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If only all Owls showed this well

Posted on January 2, 2014 at 4:45 PM


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Pygmy Owl at Lettele, Netherlands Tuesday 31st December 2013

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Hawk Owl @ Zwolle, Netherlands Tuesday 31st December 2013


Connoisseur Gull on the list

Posted on January 2, 2014 at 3:25 PM

Adult Caspian Gull @ Cuckmere, East Sussex Sunday 29th December 2013

Just like to thank Matt Eade for taking time out and taking  me to his local patch, and as expected we got a Caspian Gull. Nice

2013 best year ever.....I think so!

Posted on January 2, 2014 at 10:40 AM

Most years I keep a note of what species I see in Britain & Ireland. But on the 24th March, I decided to have a go at a biggish year list. This particular day I went out of county to see Great Grey Shrike, Goosander, Scaup and dipped a Pallas’s Warbler.

At this point in time I wasn’t sure whether I was going to go for 250 or 300 species. But to get 300, you really need to get 90% of the regular British List (ie 264 species as per Shell Field Guide) which is 238 and get 62 vagrants. Due to me being married with a young family, I limit myself one day’s general birding per week + generally dropping everything to go for a lifer when it turns up.

Of the 264 regular shell species, I saw 240 of them. The 24 species I missed were:-

Cory’s Shearwater, Great Shearwater, Leach’s Petrel, White Stork, Capercaille, Ptarmigan, Quail, Golden Pheasant, Lady A, Dotterel, Red-necked Phal, Pom, Little Auk, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, Water Pipit, Waxwing, Marsh Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Barred Warbler, Crested Tit, Golden Oriole, Scottish Crossbill & Ortolan. Most of those are hard or impossible

For Vagrants I managed to get 66. List is in date order with lifers in red:-

Desert Wheatear 03-Feb-13 Aberdeenshire, Rattray Head

Pine Grosbeak 04-Feb-13 Shetland, Housetter

Bonaparte's Gull 24-Feb-13 E.Sussex, Eastbourne: Princes Park

Red-breasted Goose 19-Mar-13 Hants, Farlington Marshes

Glossy Ibis 23-Mar-13 Hants, Warblington

Great White Egret 30-Mar-13 Kent, Dungeness

American Wigeon 06-Apr-13 Devon, Bowling Green Marsh R.S.P.B.

Pied-billed Grebe 06-Apr-13 Somerset, Ham Wall R.S.P.B.

Rose-coloured Starling 06-Apr-13 Devon, Exminster

Western Bonelli's Warbler 23-Apr-13 W.Sussex, Church Norton

Rock Thrush 25-Apr-13 E.Yorks, Spurn

Subalpine Warbler 27-Apr-13 Suffolk, Landguard (Eastern race)

Cattle Egret 18-May-13 Kent, Shorne Marshes

Dusky Thrush 18-May-13 Kent, Margate Cementary

Red-footed Falcon 25-May-13 Suffolk, Lakenheath Fen

Terek Sandpiper 25-May-13 E.Sussex, Rye Harbour

Savi's Warbler 02-Jun-13 Suffolk, Lakenheath Fen

Little Bittern 08-Jun-13 Somerset, Ham Wall R.S.P.B.

Black Kite 09-Jun-13 Kent, Selling

Bee-eater 09-Jun-13 Kent, Pegwell Bay

American Golden Plover 11-Jun-13 E.Sussex, Cuckmere

Caspian Tern 12-Jun-13 Dorset, West Bexington

Pacific Swift 15-Jun-13 Suffolk, Trimley Marshes

Wilson's Phalarope 22-Jun-13 IOW, Yarmouth

Needle-tailed Swift 26-Jun-13 W.Isles: Harris, Tarbert

Common Rosefinch 26-Jun-13 Perth & Kinross, Loch Tummel

Bridled Tern 02-Jul-13 Northumberland, Inner Farne

Pectoral Sandpiper 01-Aug-13 W.Sussex, Pulborough

Roller 09-Aug-13 Norfolk, Horsey

Citrine Wagtail 15-Aug-13 Shetland, Fair Isle

Swinhoe's Petrel 16-Aug-13 Shetland, Fair Isle

Booted Warbler 27-Aug-13 W.Sussex, Climping

Red-crested Pochard 31-Aug-13 Kent, Dungeness

Yellow-legged Gull 02-Sep-13 W.Sussex, Pagham North Wall

White-rumped Sandpiper 07-Sep-13 Northumberland, Chevington

White-winged Black Tern 07-Sep-13 Notts, Attenborough

Great Snipe 15-Sep-13 E.Yorks, Kilnsea

Two-barred Crossbill 15-Sep-13 S.Yorks, Broomfield Reservoire

Brown Shrike 20-Sep-13 Hants, Hook with Warsash

Wilson's Warbler 21-Sep-13 Co. Cork, Dursey Island

Lesser Yellowlegs 29-Sep-13 Kent, Cliffe

Yellow-browed Warbler 05-Oct-13 Shetland, Geosetter

Thick-billed Warbler 05-Oct-13 Shetland, Geosetter

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler 05-Oct-13 Shetland, Hoswick

Short-toed Lark 06-Oct-13 Shetland, Sumburgh Hotel

Little Bunting 06-Oct-13 Shetland, Unst: Skaw

Surf Scoter 07-Oct-13 Aberdeenshire, Blackdog

Blue-winged Teal 08-Oct-13 Lincs, Lincoln: Boultham Mere

Dusky Warbler 10-Oct-13 Hants, Sandy Point

Radde's Warbler 12-Oct-13 E. Sussex, Sheepcoate Valley

Pallas's Warbler 13-Oct-13 Norfolk, Winterton

Parrot Crossbill 13-Oct-13 Essex, Gunners Park

Semipalmated Plover 18-Oct-13 Hants, Hayling Island: Black Point

Long-billed Dowitcher 18-Oct-13 Hants, Pennington Marshes

Cape May Warbler 24-Oct-13 Shetland, Unst: Baltasound

Ring-billed Gull 06-Nov-13 Hants, Gosport

Green-winged Teal 10-Nov-13 Gloucester, Slimbridge w.w.t.

Lesser Scaup 10-Nov-13 Somerset, Chew

Ring-necked Duck 16-Nov-13 Leicestershire, Eyebrook Reservoir

Orphean Warbler 16-Nov-13 Pembrokeshire, Orlandon kilns

Lesser Grey Shrike 24-Nov-13 Nortumberland, long nanny

Siberian Stonechat 30-Nov-13 Scilly, St. Agnes ("Caspian")

Ivory Gull 22-Dec-13 E.yorks, Patrington

White-billed Diver 27-Dec-13 Devon, Brixham Harbour

Brunnich's Guillemot 27-Dec-13 Dorset, Portland Harbour

Caspian Gull 29-Dec-13 E.Sussex, Cuckmere

So 240 regulars plus 66 vagrants is 306. I did see Waxwings fly over my car in Crawley in January and I did hear Golden Oriole at Lakenheath. But because I didn't tick them at the time, I will keep my list on  306 including 2 in Ireland (Pied Fly and Wilson's Warbler).

The graph above shows my weekly progress in seeing 300 birds in Britian only.

Anyway 2014 is now here. I can't really be bothered to get a massive year list this year. I will keep one, but will concentrate on seeing as many as I can on a new coastal local patch, plus check a few of my local reservoirs and parks when I get a chance.



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