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.

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.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Rye Harbour with SOS

Despite the severe cold weather and snow still lying 12 members met up with Chris Bentley the Warden of the Rye Harbour LNR.
We started with a walk up along the main path past Lime Kiln Cottage stopping at the various pools on the way and spotting a Rock Pipit over the salt marsh and several Sky Larks, on the pools there were Grey Plover, Knot and Dunlin plus a several Ringed Plover which were displaying - Ducks Shoveler, Gadwall, Teal, Wigeon, Shellduck. A look on the sea produced several Cormorants feeding, and lots of Great Crested Grebes, possibility of of Divers but too far off shore to be recognised. Next stop was at the Ternery Pool, unfortunately the Spotted Redshank took flight as we opened the hide flaps.
Across the path at the Quarry hide we able to identify the 5 different gulls the Black Headed, Common, Herring, Lesser Black Backed and Greater Black Backed.





We then walked on to Long Pit and stopping at the barns we saw Pochard,  2 male and 1 female Scaup, the Feruginious x Pochard and on the barn pools a drake Golden Eye. Bird of the day however ended up being the Bittern on narrow pit as we walked back to car park.

As we all departed after lunch and went our seperate ways a visit to the viewpoint produced a Marsh Harrier, a Cettis and a Water Rail was heard. Next stop for me was a visit to the other side of the river at Northpoint Pit
A walk through the salt marsh trying to flush Jack Snipe produced only 6 Redshank.

Friday, 12 February 2010

This week to 12th Feb.

On Sunday after the heavy rains of the previous week it felt that Spring is only just around the corner, the ground starting to dry a little but still not enough so Franks walks are still to be onthe beach. Parking at Glyne Gap and a walk along the beach to Bulverhythe with tide almost high there were the usual Turnstones, 15 - 20 Oystercatchers a couple of Grey Plover and 2 Purple Sandpipers nothing except Gulls on the flat calm sea.

With a report of a Slavonion Grebe and a Spotted redshank on the Turnery Pool at Rye on Monday I set off in search in the afternnoon, no sign of the Grebe but I had good views of the Spotted Redshank next to his cousin, showing off his finer, longer bill, his spotted back, and stripe over his eye.
Tuesday the weather is turning colder a walk along the beach found the Grey Plovers. The flocks of Knot and flocks of Oystercatcher







and these Dunlin
 Wednesday saw heavy snow showers and a blizzard as darkness fell giving up to six inches of snow in the morning, with a strong north eastery wind drifts on the Fire Hills were a couple of feet thick, back in the garden the birds were flitting amoung the trees with a pair of Bullfinches putting in an appearance only the second time seen here and a first a Great Spotted Woodpecker.  Friday the thaw has started, at 7.30am 61 Wood Pigeons were in the trees at the back of the garden, on a walk from Hastings along the sea side path over the country park produced nothing of interest except a mixed flock of tits in Warren Glen.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Selsey - Church Norton - Fishbourne Creek

This morning we met at 8.30am on the tip of Selsey Bill for a session on sea watching, first to come into sight was 10 or more Common Scoter on the sea plus a couple of Great Crested Grebes along the shore a Mediteranean Gull in Spring plumage joined some Black Headed Gulls,and a Lesser Black Backed Gull, a walk along the beach soon found the wintering Black Redstart and then off shore a Great Northern Diver gave us good views along with several Red Breasted Mergansers.

Next stop was Church Norton with the tide out there was little to be seen on sea, in the harbour the usual waders plus a large flock of Golden Plover but no sign of the hoped to see Avocets, but amoungst the Brent Geese a Black Brant was spotted, and so off to Fishbourne Creek and lunch in the car park of Apuldram Church looking for the Firecrest with no luck.

At the creek after a little while searching amoungst the Dunlin, Paul spotted the Little Stint flying with the Dunlin showing the Stint to be alot smaller. A search amoungst the hundreds of Brents didn't show any strangers but a Spotted Redshank was seenamoungst the common Redshank, followed by a couple of Wimbrels, and several Pintail. A walk along the salt marsh didn't put up any Jack Snipe but a Common Buzzard was seen perched in a tree.

There was still a couple hours of light left so we then headed off to Ivy Lakes on the way home hoping to see the Whooper Swans but again with no luck but we did see the male Scaup.
So all in all we had yet another good day 3 more species to my list, and a reminder that what you expect to see may not happen.