Jerry's version would also be common in the UK. Notice too is common.
"catch sight of" is more formal and means only "glimpse", so it doesn't work as an exact synonym for notice or spot in this situation. On fraze.it, there are some quotes from NY Times and Time from this century!
I can imagine using "spot" more when relating the story later, not at the time. Apart from "spot", I'd say that informal terms in this situation are the same in the UK, US and wherever Alan is from.