Saturday, 28 March 2009

Spoonbill & Willow Tit

Saturday 28th March - The Spoonbill found by Matt Eade on the scrape at Cuckmere Haven early morning was still present early afternoon in the fields on the west side of the river south of the Golden Galleon. In true Spoonbill fashion it spent most of the time asleep though at one stage went for a short walk revealing a yellow flag on the left leg and a green colour ring on the right. The combination of rings indicates that it is of Dutch origin. Also in the area 5 Shelduck, ca. 6 Little Egrets, 2 Curlew and a Green Woodpecker. A very heavy rain shower at Arlington Reservoir brought down 5+ Swallows and a Sand Martin though by the time we'd done the whole circuit they'd moved on. Not much else there - 5 Tufted Duck, Buzzard, 2 Green Woodpeckers, Mistle Trush, 3 Chiffchaffs (2 singing) and Nuthatch (h). No sign of the 'pole hunting' Long-eared Owl in a short search after dark - perhaps it's moved on?

Friday 27th March - Despite the less than ideal conditions, Bridget and I headed inland in search of LSWs. In the cold wind there was very little woodpecker activity - not surprisingly we failed with LSW though a major bonus was a male Willow Tit which was singing continuously (pee-oo pee-oo) from the canopy of an area of oak and hazel coppice. Like the West Dean birds it was very mobile continually flying from tree to tree though I did manage to get a good (if somewhat brief) view of it. Also in the area were at least 3 (possibly 6) Buzzards, a male Bullfinch and a male Reed Bunting. Chiffchaff, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Yellowhammer were all heard.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Stock Doves

A pair of Stock Doves between Southwick Green and the church. Looks as if they are going to breed locally again.


Tuesday 24th March - A few birds on my early morning circuit with the dogs - Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming into a telegraph pole and a pair of Jays.

Walked both the transects at Knepp for the first time this spring. A surprise was a pair of Grey Partridge (my first on the estate). Also several sightings of Buzzards plus a nice selection of common birds including Stock Dove, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Sky Lark, 3 Redwings, Chiffchaff, Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, a pair of Bullfinches, Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting. Two Commas in the spring sunshine and a fine display of wild daffodils in the recently thinned Coate's Furzefield.

Monday, 23 March 2009


Monday 23rd March - A singing male Blackcap in the 'Yellow-browed Warbler' garden in Phoenix Crescent.

Sunday 22nd March - Harlequins 38 Sale 20. A Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming on the way to the Stoop and 2 Ring-necked Parakeets after the game.

Saturday 21st March - A beautiful spring day but few birds around on Beeding Brooks where a circular walk turned up just a handful of Sky Larks and Meadow Pipits and 3 Reed Buntings (2 singing).

Friday 20th March - A singing Chiffchaff and 23 Mute Swans at Hove Lagoon and a female Peregrine sunning itself at the front of the nestbox on the power station chimney.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Last few days

Thursday 19th March - Warm and sunny again after a cold and frosty start. An early morning vigil from 6 a.m. produced lots of woodpecker activity with 2 pairs of Great Spotted and a pair of Green in the same tree but sadly no sight or sound of Lesser Spotted. Lavington Plantation was much better with a pair of Wood Larks, a big mob of noisy Siskins, 3 Lesser Redpolls, a pair of Crossbills that gave great views in the bright sunshine and several Yellowhammers. Across the road was very quiet, despite the warm and still conditions, though we did eventually manage brief views of a Dartford Warbler which gave a couple of bursts of song. Also a pair of Kestrels and a pair of Mistle Thrushes. The Dartfords were more obliging at our next stop with a pair accompanying a pair of Stonechats on Heyshott Common and a singing male on Ambersham Common. Also a pair of Buzzards and a Marsh Tit. The Egyptian Goose family in nearby Petworth Park had reduced to 5 goslings (previously 8). Also Shelduck, 3 Great Crested Grebes (2 paired up), several Stock Doves, Mistle Thrush and a Brambling that flew by calling. At Pulborough Brooks yesterday's Garganey had been seen earlier from Winpenny hide before flying towards The Hanger. North Brooks seemed the logical place for them to be but all we could find were 2 Little Egrets and the same 21 Black-tailed Godwits as yesterday. Winpenny hide produced 4 Little Ringed Plovers together and 4 Dunlin while the field opposite held 4 White Wagtails feeding round the cow pats. Nuthatch and Redpoll were in the trees by the car park.

Exceptional views of a Long-eared Owl 'pole hunting' after dark but please don't ask where...

Wednesday 18th March - News of 3 Garganey at Pulborough Brooks (part of an influx into Sussex today) seemed like a good excuse for a walk round the reserve on a beauliful still evening. The Garganey did not co-operate though I did see 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 21 Black-tailed Godwits and a Swallow on the North Brooks and 2 Little Egrets from Winpenny hide. The Swallow was my earliest ever in the UK.

Tuesday 17th March - The morning started well with brilliant views of a Barn Owl that flew through the pub car park. Although a reliable site for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in recent springs we had to be content with distant drumming and all the usual woodland birds including 4 Treecreepers. A pair of Mandarins flew past us calling and a loose flock of ca. 20 Fieldfares was up in the tree tops.

We then moved on to Burton Mill Pond where LSW again failed to show though our walk round the nature trail did turn up 3 Gadwall on Chingford Pond, a pair of Buzzards, a Great Crested Grebe with a large fish, Kingfisher and an obliging pair of Grey Wagtails at Burton Pond, 3 Redpolls and, best of all, a delightful pair of Wood Larks on the heathland area showing down to a few yards. A number of brimstones (all males) were on the wing in the warm and sunny weather.

Monday, 16 March 2009


Monday 16th March - A pristine Comma in the garden.

Sunday 15th March - A quick look at the mill stream at Arundel turned up 3 Mandarins (2 males), single pairs of Gadwall and Tufted Duck, and a Kingfisher. The Hawfinches nearby continue to oblige with good views of at least 3 birds, also a Sparrowhawk overhead (ignored by a Hawfinch), a Stock Dove and a couple of Nuthatches. The guided walk round the perimeter of Thorney Island in the warm spring sunshine was another success, the highlights being a Barnacle Goose with the Brents, a Whimbrel and 3 summer plumaged adult Med Gulls in Emsworth Channel, Bearded Tit and Cetti's Warbler heard calling at the Little Deep, 2 Greenshank at the west end of the Great Deep, 75 Sanderling and a brief Corn Bunting at Pilsey and a Short-eared Owl over the saltmarsh at Longmere Point. Despite a lot of human disturbance, the roosting waders - Oystercatchers, Grey Plover, Knot, Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwits (one summer plumaged bird) and Redshank - put on a good show either side of high tide as did several hundred Brent Geese. Birds of prey were largely absent - just 2 Buzzards and a Kestrel.

Spring is here!

Saturday 14th March - A dull and overcast start to the day resulted in a fall of Wheatears all the way along the coast. At Widewater there were 6 splendid males on the beach beside the cycle track. Also the long-staying Black Redstart, a White Wagtail, 4 Little Grebes and a Little Egret. A Ringed Plover and 11 Turnstone on the beach.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Last few days

Quiet again locally, the only birds of note being the pair of Peregrines at the power station, a pair of Mergansers on Southwick Canal and 8 Purple Sandpipers on the inner west arm of Shoreham Harbour at high tide (my highest count there this winter). The Peregrines were seen mating on the chimney ring next to the nestbox.

Wednesday 11th March - A 'round the block' walk with the dogs at first light turned up a Heron over the rooftops, 4 Redwings flying N and a singing Goldcrest in Kingston Lane. Heading inland, a walk through the woods produced all the usual woodland birds (Buzzard, Stock Dove, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Goldcrest, Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper etc) and also Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers drumming in two areas. Although one sounded fairly close, we were unable to track it down, much to everyone's frustration. Three Greylag Geese and a Grey Wagtail flew over calling and 2 Red-legged Partridge scurried across a field before flying off. Our next stop was the heathland restoration area at Wiggonholt Common where we saw ca. 20 Redwings, a singing Mistle Thrush, 2+ Siskins and, best of all, a party of 9 Crossbills (including several fine males) perched at the top of an oak tree. Pulborough Brooks was a little disappointing, the highlight being a female adder basking beside the trail in the warm spring sunshine. A couple of Little Egrets, 2 Pintail, 2 Sky Larks, a party of Redwings, Mistle Thrush, a singing Nuthatch and a flock of ca. 20 Linnets were the only birds of note. A quick stop where we'd heard one of the LSWs drumming earlier drew a blank though 3 Roe Deer that slipped away into the woods were some consolation. On to Arundel where at least 2 Hawfinches gave some excellent views despite a lorry arriving and dumping a large mound of sand in the car park and various noisy tractors trundling past. A Peregrine flew overhead heading north.

Sunday 8th March - A quick look at Church Norton in the afternoon turned up two flocks of Knot on the beach totalling perhaps 200 birds and 16 Med Gulls, mainly adults in full summer plumage. The tide was way out so there was no sign of any divers, grebes or sea duck.

Friday, 6 March 2009


Friday 6th March - Flushed a Woodcock during survey work at Offham Marshes today. Also Stock Dove and Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers there. Despite seemingly promising conditions for an early Wheatear, Newhaven Tidemills was devoid of birds except for 2 Kestrels and 3 Stonechats.

Monday, 2 March 2009


Sunday 1st March - Gareth and I got up early and visited two sites for Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers. We drew a blank at both possibly due to the dull and overcast conditions. At the first site we saw Nuthatch and Treecreeper and heard 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming. Also 2 Roe Deer. At the second site a flock of 50 Siskins and a Lesser Redpoll, 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers together and a Nuthatch. In the afternoon, Bridget and I took the dogs for a walk on the Downs. It was very quiet apart from a Short-eared Owl in the same area where I saw 2 last Sunday.

Saturday 28th February - A quick look at Beeding Brooks turned up a Little Egret, a Peregrine perched high on one of the pylons and 2 Chiffchaffs (one singing weakly) in the hedge by the sewage works. In the afternoon Bridget and I walked up to the Chattri memorial and then back to the car via Lower Standean. An area I hadn't been to before with a few birds - a pair of Buzzards, 3 Stock Doves, ca. 20 Yellowhammers (at the Chattri) and 7 Linnets.