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.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Westdean Woods West Sussex

On Thursday our walk was planned to Westdean woods, but first I stopped off at Swanbourne Lake at Arundel looking for my first Mandarin, finally on my hands and knees spied a male in the branches of a fallen tree on the lake a walk round the lake I came across Pochard, Tufted duck and some very tame crossbreds and this fella possibly a Ruddy Duck
After a while I came across a couple who had just seen 4 firecrests flitting through the trees but all was there now was a flock of Long Tailed Tits.

Next stop was at Westdean Woods, after parking the cars we set off down the road to a clearing and overlooking several fields we soon saw in the distance a couple of Buzzards followed by a Peregrin sitting on top of a pylon and then a couple of pairs of Red Kites floating over the hills, on a slow walk back up the hill a flock of Long Tailed Tits led us to a Tree Creeper then a Firecrest at the edge of the coppice, and a couple of Marsh Tits. After lunch we headed off in search of the Hawfinch and at Stapleash Farm just where it should have been there was one right at the top of a tree, we all managed to get a view but without the scope and then it flew. After 30 minutes of waiting hoping for its return we set off to Monkton Farm

On the way another Red Kite gave us great views. At Monkton Farm there were hundreds of Chaffinches feeding in the maize fields and several Bramblings amoungst them.  Several Hawfinches flew over and one landed briefly in the distant tree top. On the way back we heard and saw Nuthatch and several Marsh Tits.

At 4.00pm we still had an hour of daylight left so we all headed north to Burton Mill Pond to find the Bitterns that had been reported the day before. On arrival a group of 6 other birders put us straight on to one which provided us with entertainment til darkness fell - Yet another brilliant days birding, 3 new species to my list and my year to date total species for January 115. 

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Thorney Island

A midweek walk to Thorney Island on the 21st turned up all the usual waders, Grey and Golden Plovers, Knot, Dunlin, Bar Tailed Godwits, but in huge numbers.

Also Red Shank and others but in contrast to East Sussex we were able to see a glimpse of wintering Whimbrel, and 5 or 6 Green Shank plus many Red Breasted Mergansers showing off their lovely crests and their long red saw bills. A mid week walk certainly leaves the crowds behind as we were the only ones walking through the MOD area of the island - other birds of interest were a Grey Wagtail, Peregrine on his island!, a Barn Owl hunting over the airfield along with several Kestrels. But the greatest  thing was the shere number of birds around at the hight of the tide. Following a tip off a stop at the lake at Westhampnet just outside Chichester proved worthwhile as 2 pairs of Red Crested Pochard had just arrived and gave good views from the access road.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Rye Bay Bird Safari

On a brilliant sunny morning 6 of us set off with Paul. Leaving the cars at Toot Rock we headed north through the mud along the Royal Military Canal adding a couple of Little Egrets,a pair of Stock Doves investigating a barn owl box and a few Curlew in the fields. A distant party of 17 White-Fronts (geese)  with them was a single Dark-Bellied Brent Goose. At the Pannel Valley we saw our first birds of prey - a male Marsh Harrier and a Common Buzzard. A heavily streaked female Merlin flashed by and a Kestrel put in an appearance, also several Long Tailed Tits, Stonechat and many Reed Buntings.


Our first target bird of the day was the Great Grey Shrike who obliged very well flitting amoung the tops of the bushes, at the scrape the usual ducks were there plus good views of a couple of Snipe.

On the way back to the cars very little was seen except a male Bullfinch at Toot Rock. A quick look on the sea gave us several Great Crested Grebes and a couple of Red Throated Divers and a Fulmar over Cliff End.


Next stop was at the Castle Water Hide where near the castle a couple of Ravens joined the Jackdaws, on the water 4 Smew 2 drakes and 2 redheads,





 2 Bitterns flew over with one giving exception views as it landed in the reeds oposite and went for a stroll, the usual ducks were there and a couple of Marsh Harriers put in an appearance. On the way back a Sparrow Hawk flew overhead.

 Next stop was on Walland Marsh in search for the Bewick's Swans which we eventually found in the distance, but also found a couple of Red Legged Partridge and a small flock of Corn Buntings, eventually ending up at the Woolpack we headed for the Harrier Roost, several Marsh Harriers were seen in the distance over the Dungeness reserve they didn't come home to roost! A couple of large flocks of Golden Plover and also Lapwing were sent up, but just as darkness set in a Male Hen Harrier gave a good flight display landed in the nearbye reeds. Another good day with 6 species of rapter, the Shrike,Smew and Bitterns.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Slowly the Ice Melts

This week the snow and ice started to thaw, then another couple of inches were dumped on Wednesday morning, then disappearing as quick as it came and by Friday all has gone save the drifts on the Fire Hills and some of the icy margins on the shallow pools. Three trips out this week - Monday a walk from Dogs Hill to Long Pit and the barns produced a male Goldeneye and great views of a Sparrowhawk taking afternoon tea on a post by the barns.Wednesday after the snow I took a walk up to Pannel Valley,
Carters flood still totally frozen over. Along the canal a couple of Stonechat, Meadow Pipits, Skylarks, Curlews, Black Tailed Godwit, Lapwing in the surrounding fields

- on the Scrape Shoveler,Teal, Shelduck, a Peregrin hunting over, up the valley 2 Marsh Harriers and the Great Grey Shrike put in an appearance near the first hide but kept flitting from the top of bushes.


Friday a walk on the sea wall looking for the reported Wood Larks was a dissappointment the Bulldozers and Dumpers were up and down like Yo Yo's on the sea there were 4 single Great Crested Grebes

Sunday, 10 January 2010

An hour in the hide at Castle Water


Sunday afternoon, the snow showers have stopped and a slight thaw is happening so went off to Castle Water, didn't stop at the view point but went straight to the hide but stopping for the 50 or so Geese coming in to land, then a couple of Stonechats and then a Marsh Harrier putting all the ducks up and then a Green Sandpiper and a Snipe flew out of the ditches a good start so far.



At the hide the usual ducks, Mute Swans, Canada and Greylag Geese, a Common Snipe was feeding just yards from the hide and several Meadow Pipits were pecking around the grass poking through the Snow. It was good to see the Smew again as I hadn't seen it since 13th December and a female has now joined him. The light was beginning to fade and it was time to test the optics and also the eyes. 4.00pm and time to start making tracks back when eventually a Bittern took flight from the reeds and flew right to left straight in front of the hide. A few minutes more perhaps he will re emerge, no but the Water Rail made a dash across the ice from a bunch of reeds to another and 2 minutes later to the next. Time for home, may be an Owl on the way back - heard but not seen.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Snow Redwings and things

With the cold and wintery weather continuing, temperatures dropping, and regular snow showers work has been out of the question. Tuesday lunchtime was a walk along the beach from the Smuggler to Pett Pools, on the sea there were several rafts of Great Crested Grebes the larget I counted 54, in the distance a raft of ducks and possibly only Widgeon. On the Pools a couple hundred more along with a hundred Coote taking up the only bit unfrozen, in the distance Greylags and Canada Geese but too far away to recognise any White Fronted amoungst them. The cream headed Marsh Harrier put in an appearance. A heavy snow shower curtailed the visit. Wednesday saw more snow showers.

Thursday awoke to blue skies and snow everywhere A party of 6 Redwings were in the garden cherry tree, a first since we have been here but no signs of Fieldfare that have been reported all along the coast.

With the sun shining I set off for Castle Water, first bird to see was a hansome male Green Woodpecker sitting on a fence post followed by a very friendly Robin who refused to give me a Xmas card photo. At the view point very little showed except a party of Long Tailed Tits.
 Along the path to the hide two pairs of Stonechats and several Meadow Pipits were forageing in the grass tufts not covered with snow. On arrival at the hide a blizzard came from nowhere which took away all distant viewing. Apart from the usual ducks and geese a Little Grebe caught a small fish, there was no sign of the Smew but a Bittern took flight across the water in front of the hide and as the snow eased off a Water Rail made a quick dash from left to right in front of me. Good couple of hours birding.

Friday brought snow showers off and on all day but it wasn't till the night that a depth built up to 3" .

Saturday morning brought the first Fieldfare into the garden with another half a dozen or so Redwings. 11am we set off for Pett  to collect emergency provisions of eggs and milk, continually overhead was the chak chak chak sound of the Fieldfares and Redwings in one garden there must have been an assortment of 20 -30 Another unusual sight was in the horse paddock off Rosemary lane the Meadow Pipits were literally following in the horses footsteps pecking in the disturbed turf for insects and worms

Monday, 4 January 2010

The Great Grey Shrike

During yesterday's outing I was asked several times if I had seen the Great Grey Shrike at Pannel Valley especially as it is my local patch. Sadly I had to admit that despite going there five times I had still to see it.
Looking at the SOS website on Sunday evening - It had been seen while I was down at Pagham I was determined to have another go. After an early lunch I set off and parked by the road bridge in Pannel Lane and walked down the footpath through the waterlogged field to the last hide and still no sign. Here I met another birder it was his fourth time looking for it, which made me feel a little better.
With some dissapointment I had a quick look at the scrape from the top hide Teal, Shelduck and a couple of Snipe obliged and I set off back to the truck. Entering the waterlogged field I located a Marsh Harrier high and then another quartering the reed beds - I always find them fascinating - then a Barn Owl appeared and managed to get in the scope, followed it for 3 or 4 minutes and got superb views as it flew directly towards me. After picking up the scope I couldn't believe my eyes there it was looking at me from the Alder tree the Shrike was there. It gave me 15 minutes and time for photos but when I tried to get a better angle the Great Grey Shrike flew. - 4th January 4 new species to the list.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Outing with the SOS to Pagham Harbour

18 of us met at 9.30 with Owen Mitchell the assistant warden of Pagham LNR after a quick introduction in the visitor centre we set off along the western edge on route we stopped at the frozen Ferry Pool and added Mediteranean Gull to our list along with Shelduck, Lapwing, Curlew, Snipe, Black Headed Gull. Further down the banks we added Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Shoveler, a single Knot, several Grey Plover and 5 Avocet. On the nearbye fields several Partridge were feeding. On the way back to the centre we stopped again at the Ferry Pool and saw a Common Buzzard on the ground being mobbed by a couple of Crows.


After a coffee break we set for Church Norton and met up with some locals all looking towards Tern Island in search of the reported Spoonbill. It was reported to be out of sight round the corner then it appeared and flew west and out of sight, a couple of minutes later was seen again and flew in front of us all and landed back on Tern Island.
  After good views and a poor photo we set off for the beach and found a couple of Great Crested Grebes, a couple of Slavonian Grebes, a few Wigeon and a Gannet fishing well off shore, looking back over the harbour a Sparrow Hawk and Kestrel were seenalso a good flock of Golden Plover. In all the group had seen 69 species.
After a tour around the graveyard and a talk about the "Bird stained glass window" we departed, several of us to Ivy Lakes where a report of  Whooper Swans had been seen in the last hour. On arrival at the lakes there they were 4 of them on the ice having a good spruce up, in addition a couple of Ruddy Ducks were there along with Tufted, Gadwall, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler.
As it was now only 2.30pm I set off to Burpham to find the herd of Bewick's Swans, I counted 43 and by chance I found my first Tree Creeper. Another superb days birding, 3rd January and already 3 new species to my list.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

The New Year and a new list to compile



The new year started off with a little snow and very low temperatures, Ice was forming on the pools and the canal. Saturday I set off for Pannel Valley with Frank along the canal, Carters Flood was frozen over with a few gulls sitting on the ice. Along the canal a couple of Green Sandpipers flew up from the mud banks, Lapwing, Curlew, Canada and Greylag geese in the fields. At the scrape plenty of Teal, a couple of Shoveler and a couple of Snipe showed. A pair of Stonechat were sitting on the fence by the farm track.  A walk up to the waterlogged field didn't produce the Great Grey Shrike that has been regularly reported.