Saturday, 18 April 2009


The Dotterel found earlier in the day at Climping was still showing reasonably well early afternoon when we got there frequenting a large ploughed field behind the sea wall. Unfortunately it was probably the dullest plumaged Dotterel I've ever seen in spring but still a nice bird. Also 2 Wheatears there. Later at Pulborough Brooks a splendid Red Kite (untagged) flew past The Hanger at 16.40 disturbing all the ducks on the north brooks before departing east. Not much else to get excited about - a Nightingale singing in the hedge by the zig-zag path, a few Swallows and Sand Martins, and 2 male Shoveler on the north brooks.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

This week

Friday 17th April - A Chiffchaff singing in Kingston Lane and a Stock Dove on the roof of Southwick Church.

Thursday 16th April - An hour or so spent seawatching at Splash Point was largely disappointing despite the seemingly promising conditions. The highlight was a dark phase Arctic Skua but otherwise not much - 2 Teal, Red-throated Diver, 10 Whimbrel, 2 adult summer Med Gulls and a trickle of Brent Geese, Common Scoter, Commic and Sandwich Terns. A Sparrowhawk was over the Friston Forest Project Area and a Nightingale was singing at Waltham Brooks after dark.

Wednesday 15th April - A misty start at Old Lodge but eventually the sun came out. There was no sign of the Little Bunting but compensation was provided by a Cuckoo, Wood Larks in song in 5 different areas of the reserve, at least 3 singing Tree Pipits, 3 singing male Redstarts (one of which posed nicely in the scope), a pair of Stonechats, Willow Warbler, and a Crossbill and several Redpolls that flew over calling. Also 3 Fallow Deer.

Tuesday 14th April - A beautiful spring morning at Knepp and far more birds in song than a week ago including my first Cuckoos of the year (2) and at least 4 Nightingales (one of which gave excellent prolonged views). Also a Barn Owl, several Whitethroats and Blackcaps, 4 Redpolls in an oak tree, a Bullfinch, a Reed Bunting and at least 3 (probably 5) Roe Deer.

Monday 13th April - A late start at Selsey Bill revealed that there was virtually nothing moving except 2 Mergansers, 1 Fulmar, 1 Gannet and 1 Sandwich Tern. Three Great Northern Divers and an adult summer Med Gull were on the sea, a Sparrowhawk flew out high to the south and a few Swallows were coming in. At East Beach there was a Wheatear on the shingle and 4 Willow Warblers and a Chiffchaff in the trees by the pond. A couple of visit to the RSPB reserve at Bracklesham Bay were well worthwhile turning up 45+ Shelduck, single pairs of Gadwall and Tufted Duck, a surprise in the form of a male Garganey, a pair of Grey Partridge, a Little Egret, single pairs of Oystercatcher and Ringed Plover, 2 Ruff, 2 Whimbrel, 3 Curlew, 3 Med Gulls, a Sand Martin and 2 Wheatears. A Buzzard flew N over Selsey pursued by the local gulls - shame it wasn't a Black Kite though we did see a Red Kite briefly near Goodwood on the way home.

Saturday 11th April - A walk in the rain north from Mile Oak Farm towards the South Downs Way turned up my first Common Whitethroats (2) of the year and a Buzzard that flew out of a tree with a large nest in it.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009


Wednesday 8th April - Very slow going at Friston Forest today in sunny but blustery conditions - just a pair of Buzzards and a couple of singing Blackcaps and a complete absence of any butterflies along the transect despite the sunshine. A Speckled Wood in the garden was my first this year.

Tuesday 7th April - A pair of Jays by Southwick Church early morning. Survey work at Knepp was a bit slow in the blustery conditions with Blackcap and Chiffchaff the only summer migrants recorded. Otherwise several Buzzards (inc a pair over Hartsgravel Wood), Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Nuthatch, Bullfinch etc. At the Millpond there were 17 Cormorants (inc the pair on a nest), 8-9 nests in the heronry and a pair of Greylags.

Monday 6th April - A quick visit to the Ternery Pool at Rye Harbour produced masses of Mediterranean Gulls and Sandwich Terns but very little else.

Sunday 5th April - An early morning start at Wednesday's LSW sites drew a complete blank at one and a very brief view at the other. A pair of Mandarins was at the first site where a pair of Shelduck flew over. The second site held a pair of Teal (a possible breeding site?), ca. 10 Redpolls, a male Blackcap, Treecreeper and an adder that slid off into the undergrowth. Next stop was a nearby area of heathland where we were rewarded with a singing Wood Lark (though not seen), a song-flighting Dartford Warbler and lots of noisy Siskins. The highlight however was a superb sand lizard - a Sussex first for me. We then headed back to the first LSW site where a female showed very well, even doing its 'butterfly' display flight. Both calling and drumming were heard. Also a Grey Wagtail. Later, a couple of Buzzards flew high over the beer garden of the Rising Sun at Nutbourne and what looked suspiciously like a White Wagtail perched briefly on the roof. A male Orange-tip in the road outside was my first of the year.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

This week

Thursday 2nd April - Survey work in the Friston Forest Project Area turned up a stunning Firecrest (my first site record), a Tawny Owl hooting at 12:35 and a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers. The murky conditions were slow to clear but eventually I set out on the butterfly transect recording 4 species: Peacock (5), Brimstone (3 males), Comma (1) and Red Admiral (1).

Wednesday 1st April - There can be few more agreeable places to be in Sussex on a glorious spring morning than Burton Mill Pond and so it was to prove today as 13 SOS members met up with me for a walk round the nature trail. We noted 45 species – a respectable total for an inland site. Waterbirds included Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Tufted Duck and Great Crested Grebe on Burton Pond, Little Grebe in breeding plumage on Black Pond, and Shelduck, Gadwall and Teal on Chingford Pond. Several Buzzards were seen overhead as the day warmed up while in the wooded areas we saw or heard Stock Dove, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Song Thrush, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Long-tailed, Coal and Marsh Tits, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Bullfinch. A Grey Wagtail was seen briefly at Chingford Pond and a male Reed Bunting perched at the top of a beech tree round the back of Burton Pond. Wildlife interest was not restricted to birds – several male Brimstones were on the wing in the spring sunshine while some interesting plants included Marsh Marigold, Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage, Wood Sorrel and the inconspicuous Townhall Clock.

At long last I managed to catch up with Lesser Spotted Woodpecker with a brief view of a male at one site (heard calling a couple of times) and a second bird calling repeatedly and drumming at a new site for about 10 minutes though not seen.

Tuesday 31st March - The Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming on its' favourite telegraph post, the Green Woodpecker was heard calling and a Stock Dove was prospecting Southwick Church.

Survey work along the transects on the Knepp Estate produced all the usual suspects, the pick of the bunch being 4 Teal, 4 Sand Martins flying N, 4 Bullfinches together and a male Reed Bunting along the transect south of Countryman Lane. Although the Millpond is not part of my survey area, I stopped by to count the nests in the Heronry. This year the birds seem to have deserted the nests in the tree canopy and have moved to the end of the 'dog leg' where they are nesting much lower down and in some cases just above the water. I counted 9 occupied nests. Of greater significance were 11 Cormorants perched in the trees including a pair of Continental birds occupying an apparent nest. This is a potential new breeding site, the only other sites in Sussex being Castle Water and Lewes Brooks. Also a pair of Mandarins, a male Gadwall and 2 Great Crested Grebes.

Monday 30th March - The usual early morning circuit with the dogs was enlivened by a Great Spotted Woodpecker knocking seven bells out of a telegraph post, a Green Woodpecker (scarce locally) on the spire of Southwick Church and a Jay.

Sunday 29th March - A 'walk in the woods' right up to the Surrey border failed to deliver LSW or Friday's Willow Tit - all rather disappointing. Three Marsh Tits heard singing and a pair of Buzzards were the only birds of note.

Three Buzzards together beside the A283 at Wiston.