About Me

I am a novice to birding and have become interested since walking Frank our dog, a cross Flat Coat / Springer around Hastings Country Park and the surrounding area, I realised the little brown birds weren't just sparrows.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

The New Forest Revisited

On the 7th March this year we visited the New Forest in search of the Goshawk and were rewarded with good views of a displaying pair, this time we were in search of Honey Buzzard. But firstly we stopped in a mature woodland on the Boulderwood Arboretum Drive near Lyndhurst for Redstart and Wood Warbler and got we soon had good views of the Redstart but not the Wood Warbler
From here we drove to the other side of the A31 to an area known as Godshill south east of Fordingbridge.This area is a vast heathland with woodland interspersed and here we trecked up to a ridge and waited and waited for a Honey Buzzard many Buzzards appeared but alas they were always  common
Whislt scouring the skies there were birds flitting around the gorse bushes we were in hope of a Dartford Warbler but each time they turned out to be Stonechats

Paul shouted out a think I've heard a Dartford, Jan calls out over there, something flits between the gorse and the hunt is on to find it, eventually one comes into view and then its mate obviously finding food for their young as they kept dissappearing into a bush and then emerging and flitting around the gorse again and returning to the same place.

Dartford Warbler
As we continued walking along the ridge a couple more pairs of Dartfords were seen, this is encouraging as not one has been seen in Sussex yet this year, Still no sign of the Honey Buzzard only a few more common ones but we did hear and see my first Garden Warbler. As we headed back to the cars the temperature rising to 20deg. C. a large bird of prey appeared from nowhere right above our heads and without the Bins I could tell it was a Red Kite  totally unexpected but a great sight. From here we moved on to another wood near Fritham this time to try for the Wood Warber, taking a break for lunch and listening hard no luck but the distant Cuckoo came nearer and eventually we saw him flying through the trees.

After lunch making our way back to the cars we found a common Lizard basking in the sun and a couple more Stonechats sitting on top of Gorse bushes - from here we went onto Acres Down (where we saw the Goshawks in March). The temperature was about 20 deg. C. above that of last time and we took shelter under a tree. 

Continual skanning of the skies only produced common Buzzards but for the hour we spent there we had other birds to watch, firstly this Meadow Pipit
Meadow Pipit
and then we noticed a pair of Redstarts flying to and from a hole in a tree,obviously feeding their young

Redstart flies in with food   

Redstart flies out again

Still no sign of a Honey Buzzard
So we set off for the wood at the bottom of the hill to try for Wood Warbler again, searching through the woods not far from the car park Paul hears a call we cross a stream through a bog following the call and eventually there he is,we all mange to get good views and Alan gets this pic.

and then this one

Wood Warbler
Another superb days birding and 3 more species to the list all warblers but the Honey Buzzard
has still to come.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Rye Harbour

This week my trip out was around Rye Harbour LNR on a fine and sunny but early morning. Having been round various partsduring the week walking the dog I wanted to look a bit closer with the scope.

First stop was at the Wader Pool. The usual gulls, Oystercatchers, Redshanks and a few Avocet were feeding and with closer inspection six Dunlin, a couple of Grey Plover and Bar Tailed Godwits were also seen together with a few Ringed Plover.
Ringed Plover
Next stop was at the corner of the track where last year the Wheatears were nesting but although there was no sign of them around the old nest site but this male was on a post near by.
Male Wheatear
With nothing on the sea and low tide I went on to the Ternery Pool, the water levels are dropping slowly creating more room on the islands for the Terns

The Black Headed Gull chicks have started to hatch.
From here a quick look on the Quarry with not much to report I set for the Barn Pools, passing along Narrow Pit a couple of Cettis called and a call I was not familiar with but after talking to a couple of birders turned out to be a Nightingale and was heard again on my way back. On the Barn Pools I counted 30 +
It was time to head for home as the grass needed cutting, but a qhick stop at the Viewpoint on Castle Water turned up Sedge and Reed Warblers. A look in the close tree hoping for a Turtle Dove led me to a fine Hobby who watched me watching him for a good 10 minutes before flying over the reed beds catching something and perched back in the tree but this time out of sight.

Hobby watching me watching him

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Old Lodge

Another early start to meet up with Paul in Ashdown Forest at 7.30am but surprisingly it only took 65 minutes to get there as it was a Sunday.The forcast was for the drizzle to clear and it to be a nice day but still cooler than average for the time of year.

It didn't take long to find our first specimen a female Crossbill.

Our target to find my first Redstart and should be found by its song similar to that of a Chaffinch but totally different, within 5 minutes Paul had heard one, the trouble now was to see it. There it was on the ground for 2 seconds and then up in a tree and out of sight. At least I had seen it. As we continued along the trail we heard another and this gave good views but dissappered before too long. 

Next Paul shouted a Wood Lark over there on the log and we all managed to get our scopes onto it but unfortunately the long grass blurred this picture.

But in the next breath he had found a Tree Pipit singing at the top of a tree .
We didn't know which one to look at, but both stayed around long enough to get good views.
2 New species to my life list. Today was looking good already and it wasn't 9am yet. As we walked around the reserve we saw a further 3 male Tree Pipits displaying with their parachute actions, A Marsh Harrier was seen in the distance, things then went quiet for a while until a Crossbill was heard which turned out to be a juvenile asking for food. We heard a couple more Redstarts deep within the trees but then one appeared at the top of a fir and this time stayed long enough to get this pic.
It was only 10.30 had completed the trail and seen more than what we had hoped for, so we all agreed to head off to Arlington Resevoir to try and twitch the Red Rumped Swallows seen there yesterday.
With a dozen or more birders along the dam we were hopeful but there must have been over a hundred or more hirundines over the water so what was the chance of seeing them? What luck they were flying low along the dam wall right in front of everyone but far too fast to get the camera in the scope so a a few pics were attempted with just the camera, in fact just over 100 taken and finally I got something worthwhile.
It looks like a swallow with a tint of orange

Here it is enlarged and a bit more below
On the way home I stopped off at Herstmonceux Church in search of the 2 Common Cranes reported yesterday but I was pushing my luck they had moved on.  Another good day with 3 new species to my list.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

An early evening at Pannel Valley

This evening's dog walk was along the canal to the scrape but this time I  took the scope hoping to get a better view of the Little Ringed Plovers now I new where to look. along the canal Reed Buntings, Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers were singing in the sedge and I heard my first Cuckoo of the year at last.
A Hobby flew up from a bush next to the canal and headed off for Carter's Flood.

At the scrape the usual ducks Shoveler Shelduck Tufted Gadwall and Mallard and the Little Ringed Plover was sitting on eggs. Across the scrape 14 Avocets were feeding a single Common Sandpiper and 2 Common Terns were taking a break.
Sadly the windows in the hide are all locked and the photos are taken through glass.
Our last reward of the evening was a Marsh Harrier flying low over the valley as I left the hide for home.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Purple Herons

Today was to be another sea watch but with the unfavourable weather conditions in that south westerly breezes were forcast and we wanted south easterly the event was cancelled. But with reports of there being 2 Purple Herons at Dungeness the temptation was too great and so arrived at 9.00am with ground wet from the overnight rain. A quick walk round the reserve to the Dengemarsh hide, passing plenty of Reed Buntings, Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers, Swallows and Swifts overhead. From the hidewhich was quickly filling up there was 2 nesting Sandwich Terns on the raft, a Ruddy Duck, Great Crested Grebes and Cootes, a Grey Heron flew over. Some one shouted Purple Heron as one flew from around the ramp to the cottage at the back of the pit landing in thick reeds out of sight. Good views (showing off its yellow neck and legs against the dark body). After waiting 15 minutes I decided to carry on round the trail and found a couple of Wheatears.

A half hour look on the sea turned up a flock of 20 Common Scoter and something I couldn't recognise like a gannet but with long dark grey wings, white long neck like a divers.

As I had plenty of work I should be doing in the fine weather I headed for home but did a detour along Dengemarsh road in case i got a better view of the Purple Herons, glad I did as on the bridge a dozen or so birders were there and within 5 minutes of arriving the pair flew out of the reeds flew for a 20 seconds or so and then dropped back into the reeds, one appeared to edge forward and so could get a glimpse of it standing, it then turned round and went out of sight. Another new one to my list. now standing at 187 life, 175 this year.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

100 in a Day

An early start leaving home just after 4.00am to meet up with Paul, Sandra, Christine and Jan at Pulborough Brooks for 6.00am. Our target to see 100 different species the results as follows.
The start was Pulborough Brooks (dry and cloudy)
Common Crossbill, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Green Woodpecker, Greater Spotted Woodpecker,Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Black Cap, Whitethroat, Chiff Chaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Rook, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Shelduck, Mute Swan.

2nd stop was Rackham Woods. (cloudy)
Red legged Partridge, Pheasant, Collared Dove, Nuthatch, Jay, Goldfinch.

3rd place but while travelling, Amberley Wildbrooks (light rain)
Greylag Goose, Mallard,  Starling,

4th. stop was Ivy Lake - Chichester (light rain)
Canada Goose, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Moorhen, Coote, Black Headed Gull, Dunnock, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull.

5th. stop after driving through more rain we next arrived at Selsey Bill sea watch (drizzle and westerly breezes).
Great Black-backed Gull, Little Tern, Brent Goose, Common Scoter, Fulmar, Gannet, Cormorant, Whimbrel, Turnstone, Arctic Skua, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, Meadow Pipit,

6th stop Church Norton / Pagham Harbour (sun trying to come out).
Little Egret, Kestrel, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Skylark, Mistle Thrush, Sedge Warbler Sparrow Hawk.

7th stop Sidelsham Ferry.
Wigeon, Little Grebe, Redshank, Med. Gull, Cettis Warbler.

8th Stop, Thorney Island / Thorney Deeps (sun out)
Grey Heron, Black tailed Godwit, Common Sadpiper, Greenshank, Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon, Reed Bunting, Buzzard, Osprey a long way in the distance.

9th stop West Dean Woods
Little Owl, Willow Warbler, Long Tailed Tit, Marsh Tit, Treecreeper, Hobby.

10th stop Benbow Pond
Egyption Goose

11th stop Ambersham Common
Stonechat, Coal Tit, Linnet, Yellow Hammer,

12th stop Burton Mill Pond
Grey Wagtail,

13th while travelling Waltham Brooks

14th back at Pulborogh Brooks at 5.30pm - 6.30pm.
Teal, Pintail, Shoveler, Swift, Swallow, Sand Martin, House Martin, Pied Wagtail, Nightingale.

Total if I haven't missed any out was 102 it was tight and a lot harder than we all thought but great fun.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

A Good Fall of Migrants in Hastings Country Park

This morning's dog walk in warm brilliant sunshine was to be exceptional, setting off through what we call Fyr's wood to the sound of Chaffinches and Chiff Chaffs and coming out into the open to the sights and sounds of the Common Whitethroat we headed off to the top of Warren Glen through the Quarry passing more Chiff Chaffs plus the usuall Tits and Finches. Passing the Highland Cattle went down the upper western path of the glen. On hearing a really close Greater Spotted Woodpecker drumming I looked up to find it and straight infront of me a Treecreeper landed and slowly crept up the tree, as I followed it up still hearing the Woodpecker I noticed a Blackbird in the top of the next tree, a little bit more focus and it was my second Ring Ouzel in seven days. I never did find the woodpecker but another sign of Spring was the 2 Adders rustling through the undergrowth a bit further down the path.

We headed for the plateau between Warren and Fairlight Glens in case of Dartford but no luck but were rewarded with a Peregrine perched on the dead tree. What a good dog walk I thought as we headed back for home only to find a Lesser Whitethroat and a Wheatear on the gorse back on the Firehills

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Seaford, Pevensey and After

An early start this morning, and met up with Paul, Sandra and Christine at 7.00am who had already been seawatching for half an hour, they had delight in telling me what I had missed. However it wasn't long before  I was looking through the new scope trying frantically to focus on the flocks of Brent Geese and Common Scoter eventually got the hang of it and enjoyed seeing 13 Little Gulls flying east, several more flocks of the Geese and Scoter. A distant Arctic and Pomarine Skua were also seen along with several Whimbrel, a few Swallows in off the sea and a single Wheatear.
A quick look at the Kittiwake colony also revealed a couple of Rock Pipits before setting off to the top of Seaford Head.

Never having visited here before I was surprised that the habitat was similar to the fire hills except for the aircraft radio beacon. Once away from the car park and dog walkers we found a Common Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat, the rest of the party looked over the cliff edge at the perched Peregrine while I carried on looking at the bushes. On their return a Ring Ouzel came out onto one of the rides then flew towards us landing on a bush giving us all excellent scope views meanwhile a croaking Raven flew over but the Ouzel was of more interest. We then headed off towards Hope Gap enjoying the splendid views of the Seven Sisters albeit very hazy.
Here we saw the Raven again on the cliff edge undisturbed by the passing walkers, a group of 6 Wheatears and several more Swallows in off the sea. A quick wander around Hope Gap found a Stonechat and a Willow Warbler before our climb back up to the car park. We now set off to Arlington Reservoir as Paul had received news that an adult Bonapartes Gull was on the water. On arrival we were greeted by several birders who put us in the right direction although it was on the opposite side to us we were able get fairly good views and also of 16 Little Gulls which presumably were the ones seen at Splash Point earlier in the day.

With the sun still shining and only 2.00pm I stopped off at Pevensey Levels but it was very quiet with only a handfull each of Lapwing, Grelags and Mallard.

The evening dog walk was to be on the level with all the walking already done so a gentle stroll along the canal to Pannel Valley and once there a quick pop into the hide ended up into a visit into the next hide as there was a pair of Little Ringed Plovers displaying plus about 15 Acocets feeding at the back of the Scrape.
On the return a Barn Owl was quartering over Carters Flood. A lovely end to another good day's birding.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Pevensey Levels

A return to the levels this time gave us a delightful spring morning compared to the down pour back in February.
Immediately getting out of the car we were rewarded with a Marsh Harrier quartering the reedbeds, and a Kingfisher that flew along the river under the road bridge and perched briefly on the bank before flying off down stream. Over the pools there were several tumbling Lapwings whilst in the margins 2 Green Sandpipers and a Greenshank were feeding but bird of the day was to be the female Merlin perched on a fence post at the back.
Our next stop was at the Wallers Haven Bridge on the Ninfield to Boreham Street road, although fairly quiet a Buzzard, and a pair of Kestrels put in an appearance and a Little Grebe in summer plumage showed on a pool.
Last stop was at Horse Eye Level in search of our target specie Yellow Wagtail, eventually one was heard and found and we all got good views of the male, however on trying to get closer to it, it dissappeared. A Ruff flying over, and another Greenshank was seen and a Sedge Warbler was heard singing in the dense reeds. On returning back to the cars after returning a young lamb to its mum after getting through a fence we heard a Cetti's.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Rye Harbour and Dungeness

Five of us met on the Saturday instead of Sunday due to the poor forecast for tomorrow. Todays forecast was for sunny skies to begin and showers later, tommorrow heavy rain all day. We set off at 8.30 from the Harbour car park with already 13 species in the bag through the cararan site we gained another half a dozen or so including a female Blackcap and a singing Chiff Chaff a walk to the Parkes Hide turned up the usuall Ducks and Swans, Skylarks, Linnets, Meadow Pipits, Redshanks, Lapwings. On the Ternery Pool we were greeted by hundreds of squawking Black Headed Gulls and around a hundred Mediteranean Gulls.
Paul closely scrutinsed the gulls hoping to find a Little Gull when I was asked to take a photo of that one, I think it is a Bonaparte's he says. It turned out to be a first winter bird moulting into its first summer plumage and should be in North America or Canada. This is only the fifth time one has been seen in Sussex, others in 2002, 1951, 1948, and 1878 and it is the first time for Rye.

After that excitement we went into the opposite hide over looking the quarry and found around 100 Sandwich Terns roosting on a shingle island, Shelduck, Knot, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, half a dozen Avocet in the distance. On the way back to the car park we found 3 newly arrived male Wheatears that made 48 species so far.

From here we went on to Dungeness stopping off first at the ARC pit in search of Garganey reported to be in the small pools to the north without success but later a a couple of males flew in. We looked through the viewing screen and the pit was fairly empty but a birder told us of the Penduline Tits that were on the willow trail, we hot footed it and found quite a crowd watching them Penduline Tit

From here we went around the reserve finding three Slavonion Grebes still in winter plumage
and a couple of Black Necked Grebes coming into summer plumage, on Denge marsh pit we found the Great White Egret and a female Ruddy Duck and in the car park a couple of Tree Sparrows on the feeders. We totalled up the species to 80 including the Barnacle Goose seen at Scotney Pits. Another excellent day birding but Paul and I had to go back to the willow trail for another view of the Pendulines we were on our own this time and got even better views.
Thanks to who ever it was for taking this photo of the Penduline Tits and putting it on the DBO website.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

West Dean Woods

An early start to be at West Dean for 8.00am was needed and despite the heavy rain when I left home I arrived to blue skies and in plenty of time. A quick visit to Stapleash Farm brought my next first a pair of Little Owls sunning themselves in their usual tree. Before setting off in the forest we managed to find a pair of Red Legged Partridge, a singing Chiff Chaff, Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and a couple of Buzzards.
A distant calling of a Willow Tit was heard also a Hawfinch but neither could be located.

As we set off along the bridle path up the hill a Woodlark was singing and displaying in the stubblefield. Seconds after a Red Kite soared over. On reaching the summit of the hill we came across a mature conifer plantation which was buzzing with Gold Crests and Firecrests but they were impossible to get a scope on.
Continuing on we found more Marsh Tit, Treecreeper, Coal Tit, Nuthatch heard another Willow Tit close by this time, but was not to be found. A herd of 20 Fallow Deer passed by, and a pair of Bullfinches were seen on our return walk past the unopened woodland Daffodills.
After lunch in the car park our next stop was a quick visit to Benbow Pond near Midhurst where an Egyption Goose and a pair of Black Swans were being fed by the visitors to Cowdray Park. From there we went off to Ambersham Common in search of Dartford Warblers which didn't show, but we managed a couple Stonechats and a party of at least 20 Crossbills in the conifers were added to our list.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Crests and Creepers this week

This week the weather has been somewhat Spring like, and after a quiet time locally spring like things are now happening. Sunday's early morning dog walk turned up a Firecrest in the bottom of Warren Glen and a Goldcrest along footpath 3, so surprised that my next opportunity to go there was on Wednesday morning and to my delight found another or maybe the same Firecrest. plus a total of 5 Jays around the area.
The afternoon walk from Dogs Hill was good a couple of Ringed Plover were seen together, alot of Lapwing were displaying and there were 2 pairs of Golden Eye on the Barn Pools
A revisit to Warren Glen on Thursday produced only a pair of Green Woodpeckers, so Franks walk in the sfternoon was to Rye Harbour, but no sign of the Wheatears that have been reported all along the coast but on the Ternery Pool  there were hundreds of Black Headed Gulls and I counted at least 2 dozen Mediteranean Gulls.

On Friday the weather turned wet all day although not heavy rain it was misty and drizzle, Franks walk turned up an unexpected Treecreeper just off Barley Lane near the head of Fairlight Glen.

Saturday morning although heavy mist was surrounding the headland down in Warren Glen I caught sight of 2 more crests but unsure as to what they were and then on the way back home in the wood by Fyrs Way a Firecrest was flitting around. The afternoon saw us over at Guestling Woods finding lots of Tits hearing all sorts of different calls and seeing a Treecreeper plus sperb views of a Greater Spotted Woodpecker.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

The name Lesser Spotted Woodpecker although so much smaller than the Greater Spotted obviously gets it name from being elusive and so much harder to see and so is lesser spotted by birders.
Well after an early start 8 of us met up in some remote part of West Sussex and took a walk around the woods. Turning up last I had already missed Treecreeper, Nuthach and a Barn Owl but within 55 minutes we had also seen Teal, Pintail, Wigeon, Shoveler, and a herd of (or as Brenda said a flock of) Fallow Deer out on the water meadows. After Paul playing his recording of the LSW call ki ki ki ki --- ki to our amazement not one but two appeared in the distance and we were all able to get good scope views, they then took off and flew towards us and landed in a large Oak giving us even greater views. 1 hour of our trip had passed and the job was done. So where to go next?

Next stop was at Coates Common, however neither Crossbill or Woodlark were there so we set off on a circular walk to Burton Mill Pond where we came across Treecreeper, Nuthatch, the usual Tits, Goldcrests, flocks of Chaffinches, with a few Pied Wagtails plus a Brambling at Crouches Farm and a couple of Little Egrets. There was however no further sign of the LSW at the possible other sites.

This hamlet of St Michaels really should have a pub and could be a perfect setting for Mid Summer Murders

And so on back to the car park where we saw 4 Common Buzzards circling overhead.
As Peter had still to see a Jack Snipe, Paul, Peter and I set off to Climping as one had been reported there earlier in the week, despite walking through the flooded margins in the set aside we had no luck but did find a couple of (Alba) White Wagtails, so while we were here went into the Bailiffes Court Hotel to find the Little Owl that frequents the front garden.
Once again no luck so we set off for Ferring Rife. Paul and I set through the waterlogged fields but only manged to flush 6 Common Snipe - with the weather turning warmer I think Peter is going to have to wait to next winter but yet again another good day out birding.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

The New Forest

After a week of heavy rain finally on the 1st March the sun came out but the wind has been in the North East which has meant it has been bitterly cold but the ground has dried well except for the flood water over the marshes.

On Sunday 7th 9 of us met up in the New Forest in search of the Goshawk, although found in Sussex, here is a place where there is almost a quarantee but only at this time of year when they are displaying their courtship.
Setting off from the car park leaving the Gold Crests, Blue, Great and Coal Tits to their breakfast we set off and after an hour or so walking around Acres Down we had found Crossbills and Siskins.
Settling down on the vantage point over looking the conifers several other birders joined us in the wait. After 20 -30 minutes a couple of Common Buzzards showed, a good sign as this meant the air is warming up after the heavy frost but it wasn't untill another 30 minutes had passed before in the distance a female Goshawk was seen, to the unexperienced it looked like another buzzard however the wing beat and movement was different and the bird looked like a large Sparrowhawk with an extended tail. All sorted we have what we came for and after another 20 minutes we set off back to the car park when out of the trees right in front of us another female flew out into the open then headed above the conifers only to be joined by a male and the spiralling flight higher and higher began and after 5 minutes were then out of sight - fantastic who would have thought we would have a sight like that. Paul has done his magic again and the pressure is off him.

Next stop was at an old wood in search of the LSW this was not to be but there were plenty of birds Tits of all kinds Chaffinches a couple of Bramblings and a couple of Treecreepers plus a Greater Spotted Woodpecker a stop at the Deer Park for lunch and then a walk over a sheltered heath but very little showed due to the strong cold easterly winds but we did find in the nearbye wood another Treecreeper excellent views of a Nuthatch and a flock of Longtailed Tits.

Our final stop was at an Arboretum in search of the Hawfinch, thanks to someone Paul knows we were directed to the spot where they are regularly seen, and within ten minutes one appeared followed by another 4. Another great ending to another great days birding.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Sunday 21st Pevensey Levels

The forcast for today was for sunny spells and rain moving in around 3.00pm, however at dawn there was a threatening red sky and by 7.45am it was starting to rain  Seven of us met up with Paul at 8.30 at Pevensey Castle and drove off to Horse Bridge on Wallers Haven south west of Hooe. As we waited for the rain to subside 5 decided to call it a day which left Paul, Roger, and I in our waterproofs heading south over the levels towards the A259. On the river and floods we saw plenty of Teal and Wigeon, 7 Shelduck and 5 Gadwall. Despite walking through the waterlogged grass we only manged to flush a few Snipe and no Jack Snipe or Short Eared Owls.

On the return trip back to the cars we were rewarded with a female Merlin chasing a Skylark for several minutes until they went out of view. Next stop was at Herstmonceux Church (still raining) where a circular walk through more wetland flushed some more common Snipe. We then set off for Horse Eye level and after negotiating more mud above our ankles we came accross this wetland
Here there were large numbers of Wigeon, Lapwing, Fieldfares, 3 Greylags flew over, a couple of Canada's were in the distance and a couple of Golden Plovers put in an appearance. 12.30 and we were wet, the rain stinging our faces, so we called it a day. An interesting place and surely has a lot of potential.

 The next day on the SOS sightings page revealed a Male Hen Harrier near to where we were was seen early morning and a couple of Bewick Swans seen on Horse Eye Level in the afternoon - a place to revisit in the late spring when it is warm and dry!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

3 Owls in a week

Monday, the snow is slowly thawing so Frank's walk was along the beach into Rye Harbour LNR,and along the Ridge, just as we approached the start of Long Pit a Barn Owl was hunting along the rough ground besides the path - we followed it all the way to barns but always too far away for a photo.

 A quick look on the pit by the barns produced nothing unusual so we headed off along the track besides narrow pit and there the Barn Owl reappeared and perched on a post.

Last stop was at the Ternery pool just to see if the Spotted Redshank was there, it was, right in front of the hide.  

Wednesday after a cold day and the ground still frozen in places we set off along the canal hoping to see the White Fronts (on Sunday they were along the canal) but not today - plenty of Greylags and Canada a quick look on Carters Flood was a bit of a shock as it had been drained a good idea providing some wet mud as every where else is flooded but only Gulls could be seen.
Its a shame the reeds in front of the hide aren't cut down we could have a much better view if they were.
Further along the canal it was very quiet, apart from the Lapwing and Curlew on the Levels, a visit to the first hide on the scrape gave Teal and Shelduck with a few Shoveler, a quick walk up the valley in search of the Shrike produced 2 Marsh Harriers and no Shrike but a bonus on the return trip was good views of another Barn Owl.

Thursday a day out with Paul James to Buton Mill Pond, the weather has changed and turned mild and wet, on arriving at the Mill Pond visibility was poor as mist was coming off the water a quick look for a Bittern failed and so we set off around the trail first up was a static Treecreeper, we walked on listening to drumming Great Spotted Woodpeckers hoping for a  Lesser but also hunting out a Firecrest - both proved to be absent but we were rewarded with this fantastic view of a Tawney OwlFurther along the trail we stopped to shelter from the rain and viewed a flock of Siskins, another  larger flock of Chaffinches with Lesser Redpolls, and a Brambling, feeding alongside were several Pied Wagtails and a lone Grey Wagtail. Further along the trail a flock of Longtailed Tits, Blue Tits, Great Tits and another Treecreeper lead us to a my first Gold Crests which gave really good close views but too flighty for any pics. 
Next stop was at Lavington Common after lunch we headed around the recently felled plantation, the rain still pouring it was birdless except for a couple Crossbills flying over and a single Crow and Green Woodpecker.
 A shame to waste the rest of the day Paul and I went off to Petworth House to see the Egyption Geese. Slightly blurred but very tame.
On the way home we stopped off at Swanbourne Lake Arundel to view the Mandarins, two drakes put on a good display of courtship while another couple and three females looked on. Lets try Ferring Rife for Jack Snipe says Paul so the last stop was there and after walking through the waterlogged grass by the side of the rife flushing around 10 common Snipe at last a Jack Snipe flew up from under my feet. Despite it was still raining another superb days birding with 5 more new species on my list.