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, 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.