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.

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