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.

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