Sunday, 12 February 2012

Counting Harriers or Not!

 After a full English this morning making a late start I made the short but very slippery drive in the falling snow to Faggs Wood. By the car park 5 species of Thrush fed round the chicken runs along with Robins, Wrens, Dunnocks and a Green Woodpecker. In the car park a Jay, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and lots of Great and Blue Tits fed on the bread and doughnuts left out for them. A plod around the wood saw 3 Woodcock, 4 Goldcrests, 1 Tree Creeper and a fly over Bullfinch  and little else in the falling snow. From there I drove towards Scotney. On the Brett Pit 4 Smew(2 Drakes) and 3 Goldeneye. At Scotney Mike Buckland was scanning the frozen vista and informed me that the Greater White-fronts were still there. We walked to the small copse to look for Woodcock on the ground, we found a couple but the smallest movement spooked them. We moved to the Sussex end of Scotney where we could see the 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese with the 9 Dark-bellied Brent Geese. 

A Frozen ARC from the Screen Hide
I moved on to the ARC Pit which was now almost completely frozen. In front Hanson hide a Cetti's Warbler skulked along with a Water Rail, a Bittern flew across the ice as did a Sparrowhawk while a Fox trotted about on it. A walk up to the Screen Hide found a tit flock with at least 10 Long-tailed Tits and a Chiffchaff.
New Diggings from the causeway before being moved on by the police found 10+ Goosander and 8+ Smew also a Great White Egret.
Driving back across Walland to The Woolpack, 55 Bewick Swans and a Merlin.
A twenty minute walk out across the snowy marsh to the Harrier roost I was going watch was uneventful. Setting up the scope I quickly found a Marsh Harrier perched on a fence post, which was just as well as the Harrier sat there for minute then flew off south and that was the only one I saw in 1.5hrs. Fortunately there were some other birds to look at. 3 Common Buzzards perched up in separate trees, a Bittern flew into the reed bed, 6 Bearded Tits flitted about, 11 Corn Buntings roosted in the reeds, 2 Water Rails ran along the edge and 2 Merlins chasing and catching Skylarks in front of me .   

Saturday, 11 February 2012

More Woodcocks

Mid morning on Walland found the 77 Bewick Swans still at Midley and 1 Little Owl. At Scotney 2 Pale Bellied Brent Geese with 9 Dark Bellied Brents, 20 Greater White Fronted Geese, 500+ Greylag Geese and the feral Barnacle Geese. A walk along the cycle path there flushed 8 Woodcock and a red head Smew was on the Brett Pit.
A visit to Lydd Wood found another 6 Woodcock, 20+ Song Thrushes, 4 Redwing and a Water Rail.
At the ARC Pit a minimum of 4 Bitterns present this afternoon, 3 Marsh Harriers, 1 red head Smew, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Water Rail, 4 Cetti's Warbler and 4 Woodcock at the Tower Pits.
This afternoon on Walland the Swans had disappeared, 10+ Tree Sparrows at the feeders, 3+ Marsh Harriers, 2 Common Buzzards, 4 Common Snipe flushed from the ditches and a look around some of the bushes found another 5 Woodcock and a few Thrushes.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Sunny Dungeness

On Walland this morning the Bewick Swans had increased to 77 at Midley but they were all flushed off this afternoon by the farmer. Also 15 Tree Sparrows by the feeders and a Common Buzzard over. Still plenty of Thrushes foraging under the hedges.

 At the ARC up to 9 Smew and a minimum of 3 Bitterns, 3 Marsh Harriers,  3 Cetti's Warblers, 1 Chiffchaff, 4+ Goldeneye, 100s of Wigeon, Shoveler, Teal, Gadwall, Pochard and Tufted Duck. 4 Woodcock at the Tower Pits.

 On the reserve 8 Goosander(4 drakes) 5 Smew(1 drake) and the Long Tailed Duck were all seen from Dennis's Hide and another red head Smew from Christmas Dell. 6 Stonechats round the trail 20+ Curlew in the fields and at Boulderwall Farm 28 Tree Sparrows.

Thursday, 9 February 2012


Rye from Northpoint
 After parking by Northpoint GP I walked round the pit and on out to Camber Bay. Every patch of bushes seemed to hold Woodcock a minimum of 12 seen on the plod to the bay. On the salt marsh 30+ Common Snipe, 6 Redshank and 6 Rock pipits. On one patch of rough grassland by the path a mixed flock of Reed Buntings, Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and 1 Corn bunting. Camber Bay was disappointing with no waders on the shoreline and no sea duck. On the way back a Merlin flew across the river from Rye NR and further on I found it perched up, unfortunately the light was very poor (that's my excuse).
Scotney held 20 Greater White-fronted Geese and the Bewick Swan herd on Walland near Midley has risen to 70.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

More of the same

Woodcock in the Willow Trail
 On an icy Walland Marsh this morning 10+ Tree Sparrows in the bushes opposite the feeders, small numbers of Song Thrushes and Blacbirds foraging under the hedgerows along with a single Snipe. 1 Curlew in the Midley fields and no sign of the Bewick Swans But they were seen later by another birder.
 In the Willow Trail a posing Woodcock, Robins,Wrens, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Redwings foraging under the boardwalk and in the Willows a mixed flock of  Long tailed, Blue, Great Tits, 1 Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff.
From Hanson Hide Godd numbers of the commoner wild fowl with 1 Red head Smew, 3 Goldeneye and a Marsh Harrier.
From the pines by the Water Tower 6 Smew(1 Drake) and 15 Pintail.
On New Diggings the Long Tailed Duck, 3 red head Smew, 2 drake Goosander and 4 Goldeneye.
Dengemarsh and Hookers from the viewpoint
On Burrowes Pit 6 Goosander (2 drakes), 2 red head Smew, 1 Little Egret and hundreds of common wildfowl. Also tonight a minimum of 7 Marsh Harriers roosted as did 500+ Cormorants.
Around the rest of the reserve 5 Woodcock between Scott Hide and Dengemarsh and another flew over the car park as I was leaving and plenty of common wildfowl on the unfrozen bits. 

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

West Sussex Twitch

A 05.30 start to Pagham North Wall arriving soon after 08.00 to hopefully see the Paddyfield Warbler that seems to like showing early mornings except today. At the Breach pool numerous Wrens and Reed Buntings in the reeds along with a couple of Stonechats and Bearded Tits, 2 Peregrines over along with 3000+ Brent Geese and lots of waders, mainly Black Tailed Godwits, Curlews, Golden Plover, smaller numbers of Snipe, Dunlin, Knot, Grey Plover and 4 Avocet swimming in the harbour. After 4.5 hrs patrolling up and down the top and lower path I along with 3 old friends were about 100mts from the main group of birders when we realised they were all looking at something and some were waving. We quickly joined them and they put us straight on to the Paddyfield Warbler which was in a bush c150mts out in the field. The bird gave very good scope views all be it distantly to everyone present, as it spent 20 minutes around and in the bush even sitting preening for a few minutes in the open, which undoubtedly it wouldn't have done had been in one of the path side bushes. Many thanks to John Dodds and Dave Sneller for sharing there 60x scopes with me.   
(I hope you get your Camera back from Canon soon Dorian)
Leaving Pagham I stopped off at Coldwaltham. Several Chiffchaffs around the sewage works along with a Grey Wagtail and Treecreeper but no Short Eared Owls.

Monday, 6 February 2012


Willow Trail
 Mid morning in the Willow Trail I flushed 1 Woodcock and little else. At Hanson Hide met RCand LC on a day out from Beachy Head. There we was several hundred Wigeon, Shoveler and Gadwall, with smaller numbers of Teal, Tufted Duck and Pochard, 3 Goldeneye and 2 Marsh Harriers.
Walking the track to the Water Tower a Chiffchaff in the bushes with 10+ Long Tailed Tits, loking south down the pit from the Water Tower a flock of 15 Smew.
Flock of 15 Smew in NE corner of ARC
 On the sea from the fishing boats it appears that most of the Auks and Grebes have moved on leaving 150+ Cormorants and 2 Red Throated Divers.
As the reserve was officially closed I parked back in the ARC car park and walked in. At Boulderwall farm 20+ Tree Sparrows round the feeders and 2 Stonechats a liitle further on. Between the bend in the track and the Hookers I flushed 2 more Woodcocks and a Snipe, a Bittern flew towards Christmas Dell and 2+ more Marsh Harriers was seen. Round the back of Hookers another Woodcock was flushed and 6 Reed Buntings. Dengemarsh was very quiet considering the weather but a Firecrest flew across the track disappearing into the Gorse. From the the track to Christmas Dell a Great White Egret and Little Egret flew over and from the hide a red head Smew and 3 Marsh Harrriers.
Christmas Dell to Scott hide yet another Woodcock and a Kingfisher on the return journey. Burrowes Pit held several hundred Shoveler, Wigeon and Gadwall and few Pintail but no sawbills were seen. The return plod from Makepiece Hide to the car produced the much the same birds but on more Woodcock. 

The usual Woodcock view

Saturday, 4 February 2012

East Sussex

A cold grey day in East Sussex started at Scotney where 20 Greater Whitefronted Geese were at the Sussex end with 200+ Greylag Geese, 70+ feral Barnacle and hybrid Emperor Geese, 1000+ Wigeon and 2 Marsh Harriers.
Northpoint G.P. and the smaller pits which were frozen on the way were disappointing, lacking the expected cold weather influx of wildfowl.
On to Pett Levels where there was plenty of geese grazing behind the pools including 38 Greater Whitefronted Geese, 230 dark bellied Brent Geese, 200+ Canada Geese, 200+ Greylag Geese and a Marsh Harrier over Carters Flood.  
 On to Rye Harbour and parked at the viewpoint. A long but pleasant plod around Castle Water to Winchelsea and back via the Long Pit and Narrow Pit. The smaller stretches of open water on the way to Castle Water hide was frozen and as I walked out towards the hide a flock 70 Pintail flew over. The area in front the new bench was mainly clear of ice. Scanning the wildfowl a surprise as 4 smaller geese stood out from the 200+ Greylags, these Pinkfeet are I assume the 4 from Pett Level. As I carried on to the hide a snipe was flushed from  a dyke. Infront the hide another Common Snipe sat ignoring the noise from the occupants of the hide, on the open water 100+ Shoveler, 100+ Wigeon, 100+ Gadwall, 8 Pintail, 6 Little Grebes a few Tufted Duck and Pochard and 2 Marsh Harriers.
Moving on from the hide towards Winchelsea 2 Bullfinches and 2 Green Woodpeckers and little else till the Long Pit  where the highlight was 4 Goldeneye and 8 Little Grebe. On the Narrow Pit 1 Red head Smew, 1 Great Crested Grebe, a Stonechat by the path and 15+ Song Thrushes along the way.   

Friday, 3 February 2012


On Walland Marsh a noticeable increase in the number of Thrushes this morning. With some bushes full of Fieldfare, Redwing and Blackbirds, under the bushes Song Thrushes grabbing the fallen berries and Mistle Thrushes trying to chase the rest off. The Bewick Swan herd had increased to 65 but reduced to 52 late this afternoon. 
 From Hanson Hide this morning 3 mobile Smew probably more and 6 Goosander this afternoon also all the usual wildfowl. In the Willow Trail 1 Chiffchaff and 2 Goldcrest and 2 more Smew on the New Diggings.
Off the beach still Razorbills, Guillemots, Great Crested Grebes and Kittiwakes a plenty, with many Cormorants. The 2w Glaucous Gull was seen today but not by me.

 A plod around the RSPB reserve found at least 8 Goosander and 4 Smew, the Long Tailed Duck had moved to Burrowes. 3 separate sightings of Bittern around Hookers Pit, 6 Stonechats around the reserve also 4+ Marsh Harriers and at least 2 Great White Egrets were seen by others.