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Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Lyminster, Pease Pottage and Abinger Hammer

My second English Winter Bird Survey visit to my Lyminster square was so enjoyable. It was a fine winter's morning and I recorded 47 species. When I got to the muddy cattle field at Broomhurst Farm, I was pleased to see the Cattle Egret was still there with a Little Egret but moving slightly further north, I was surprised to find an additional seven Cattle Egrets feeding in a meadow! At one point all eight birds joined up. It is tempting to speculate that these may be some of the birds that were based a Sidlesham earlier in the month. A roosting Little Owl, two Marsh Harriers and two Stonechats were new sightings for the square for me, and other notables included two Treecreepers, a Reed Bunting, two Meadow Pipits, 70 Redwings, a Mistle Thrush, three Skylarks, 50 Wigeon and two Red-legged Partridges.

Cattle Egrets at Lyminster

Little Owl at Lyminster

Marsh Harriers at Lyminster

I squeezed in a couple of hours in the Cowdray Forest at Pease Pottage on the way up to Sutton for a brief visit to the family. A singing Crossbill was very audible in a stand of conifers but couldn't be seen and the odd redpoll and Siskin was glimpsed, but I couldn't locate any sizeable flock like during my last visit. A Bullfinch, 10 Redwings, 20 Fieldfares, two Mistle Thrushes, a Treecreeper, two Nuthatches and three Marsh Tits were among the other birds logged.

For something entirely different, I caught up with Josh Burch for a bit of river dipping in Abinger Hammer for the last hour of light. We fished out some interesting stuff for a quick look, including a River Lamprey, two Bullheads, a Three-spined Stickleback and a juvenile Rainbow Trout. Two Grey Wagtails, a Nuthatch, a Coal Tit and a fly-over Mute Swan were logged while we caught our feet wet.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Goring Gap, Westdean Woods and Chichester GPs

An hour at Goring Gap first thing produced an eastbound Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 26 Red-throated Divers, 150 Great Crested Grebes, 29 Red-breasted Mergansers, two Gannets and 18 Grey Plovers. A Treecreeper was heard calling at the seaward end of The Plantation. A Green Woodpecker was heard too, a species which has been fairly irregular in recent weeks.

Westdean Woods offered a Raven, three Red Kites, a Sparrowhawk, a Mistle Thrush, 10 Fieldfares, four Yellowhammers, two Marsh Tits and two Reed Buntings.

Buzzard (left) and Red Kite (right)

Drayton North Pit at Chichester GPs had the Great White Egret, a Cetti's Warbler, a Kingfisher, an adult Mediterranean Gull, 136 Shovelers, two Wigeon and 17 Pochards among its occupants. A look around the main complex produced a Bar-headed Goose with 101 Greylag Geese, 143 Shovelers, 90 Pochards, a Little Egret, a Chiffchaff and a Grey Wagtail of note.

Great White Egret at Drayton Pits

Bar-headed Goose with Greylags at Chichester GPs

Friday, 25 January 2019

Binstead Woods and Brooklands Pleasure Park

A foggy few hours exploring Binstead Woods produced 10 Marsh Tits, a Yellowhammer, four Firecrests, 16 Coal Tits, four Great Spotted Woodpeckers (one drumming), a Bullfinch, 22 Goldcrests, six Nuthatches, three Treecreepers and two Lesser Redpolls.

I checked out Brooklands Pleasure Park briefly mid-afternoon, finding an adult hybrid Herring Gull x Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Chiffchaff, a drake Pochard, four Teal and two Green Woodpeckers of interest. 


adult Herring Gull x Lesser Black-backed Gull hybrid

Thursday, 24 January 2019

High Brede Wood, East Guldeford and Rye Harbour

A post of the SOS website the other day piqued my curiosity to visit Brede High Wood so I headed there this morning. Right next to the car park was a brilliantly noisy flock of 28 Crossbills, though in the couple of hours I wandered around the site I found only 12 Siskins and no redpolls, let alone a monster flock to work through. Three Treecreepers, 30 Redwings, four Marsh Tits and four Bullfinches were among the other birds noted.

Crossbills at High Brede Wood

A brief visit to East Guldeford secured views of Tree Sparrow before I visited Rye Harbour. First up was the Long Pit, where two Black-necked Grebes showed nicely at the south end. The pit also held two Goldeneyes and 106 Pochards. I positioned myself on the Castle Water viewpoint for the last couple of hours of the day, seeing a Barn Owl, a Great White Egret, three Little Egrets, three Fieldfares, three Marsh Harriers (including an adult male) and a roost of some 600 Cormorants. Also noted on site were seven Water Rails (one of which showed very well in a wet field), a Cetti's Warbler, 40 Golden Plovers, 300 Lapwings, a Bullfinch, two Egyptian Geese, a Kingfisher and two Reed Buntings. But no Bittern!

Tree Sparrow at East Guldeford
 
Black-necked Grebes at Rye Harbour

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Goring Gap, Pease Pottage and Burton Mill Pond

Goring Gap continued to accommodate our popular 2CY female Snow Bunting. Offshore were 320 Great Crested Grebes but only 20 Red-breasted Mergansers. Many of the grebes were feeding very close inshore on the ebbing tide, perhaps enjoying morsels washed off the beach. Further out, a pair displayed. Five Dark-bellied Brent Geese (seemingly the first spring migrants of the year) and a  Curlew flew east, two Wigeon went west and other birds offshore included two Kittiwakes, seven Red-throated Divers, three Gannets and a small handful of Razorbills. 19 Oystercatchers and three Ringed Plovers - the latter particularly sporasic among the waders this year - were among the usual suspects on the beach, along with two adult Mediterranean Gulls. A Goldcrest called from gardens near The Plantation.

The woods off Parish Lane in Pease Pottage kept me occupied for a few hours up to lunchtime as I grilled a flock consisting of around 50 Lesser Redpolls and 20 Siskins. I'd quickly teased out a smart Mealy Redpoll but getting a fitting record shot required a great deal of patience. Three Marsh Tits, two Bullfinches, a Grey Heron and a couple of Treecreepers and Nuthatches were also present while I stopped the car at a nearby field to enjoy a mix of 128 Fieldfares, seven Mistle Thrushes, 66 Redwings and four Song Thrushes.



Mealy Redpoll at Pease Pottage

Fieldfares at Pease Pottage

I spent the rest of the day's light at Burton Mill Pond, failing again to find a Bittern but logging a Kingfisher, 56 Cormorants and 20 Pied Wagtails to roost, a Little Egret, two Grey Herons, a Water Rail, nine Pochards, four Teal and a Tawny Owl. Six Little Grebes demonstrated snorkling behaviour and produced some lovely, almost diver-like, whinnying calls as dusk fell, that I'm not sure I've heard many timed before.

Little Grebes at Burton Mill Pond

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Goring Gap

The 2CY Snow Bunting was still showing well on the beach this morning, while three Reed Buntings were a nice bonus by the blocked road. Two adult Mediterranean Gulls were in the roost field. The usual waders on the beach included 120 Dunlin, while the sea offered a Dark-bellied Brent Goose, three Red-throated Divers, five Red-breasted Mergansers, 15 Great Crested Grebes, 21 auks, four Kittiwakes and four Gannets.

2CY female Snow Bunting

2CY Snow Bunting

male Reed Bunting

Monday, 21 January 2019

Sherwood Rough, Swanbourne Lake, Ferring Rife and Goring Gap

It was a fine morning to visit Sherwood Rough, where I located a Hawfinch, a flock of 26 Lesser Redpolls, a fly-through ringtail Hen Harrier, a Crossbill, 20 Siskins, a Firecrest, two Bullfinches, five Marsh Tits, a Mistle Thrush, a Treecreeper and three Great Spotted Woodpeckers among others.

Marsh Tit at Sherwood Rough

Lesser Redpolls at Sherwood Rough

A flying visit to Swanbourne Lake featured a Firecrest, three Pochards, 42 Tufted Ducks and six Gadwall.

Ferring Rife had two Snipe, a Chiffchaff, a Grey Heron and a site mega in the form of a quite showy Cetti's Warbler!

At Goring Gap I soaked in some wonderful views of the 2CY female Snow Bunting on the coast path. Two Redshanks were on the beach, three adult Mediterranean Gulls were in the roost field and the sea had six Red-throated Divers, 96 Great Crested Grebes and seven Razorbills.

2CY female Snow Bunting at Goring Gap

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Arundel, Selsey Bill, Petworth Park and Burton Mill Pond

Feeling enthusiastic for tracking down some woodland species, I got to Arundel Park for dawn but the drizzly forecast held true and conditions were far from ideal. In just under an hour staking out the cricket pitch, I had two Treecreepers, two Buzzards, a Nuthatch, a Grey Wagtail and 140 Jackdaws of note.

An hour at Selsey Bill was a spectacular experience, with hundreds of Razorbills streaming by, many at quite close range. The odd Guillemot was mixed in with them while Kittiwakes and Gannets trickled by. Two Slavonian Grebes, a 2CY drake Eider, eight Common Scoters, four Turnstones, six Red-breasted Mergansers and two Mediterranean Gulls were logged. I paused briefly at the Sidlesham Ferry Pool, seeing a Chiffchaff in the car park an assortment of Lapwings, Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler on the pool.

At Petworth Park, I found a redhead Goosander on the larger lake, where other wildfowl included small numbers of Gadwall, Teal, Pochard and Shoveler, as well as two Egyptian Geese. A nice area of scrub and alders held a Chiffchaff, eight Siskins and two Bullfinches. A Treecreeper, two Stonechats, a Mistle Thrush, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and singles of Kestrel and Sparrowhawk also featured.

redhead Goosander at Petworth Park

Burton Mill Pond had two Firecrests, seven Pochards, a Kingfisher, two Treecreepers, three Little Grebes, a Water Rail, a Grey Wagtail20 roosting Pied Wagtails and 33 Cormorants.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Goring Gap

A smash and grab mission to the patch for a 2CY female Snow Bunting found on the coast path by Ray Baker.

2CY female Snow Bunting

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Cuckmere Haven

I had a good feeling about the gulls in the Lower Cuckmere in the afternoon so headed down to Cuckmere Haven, where a huge gathering was evident at the southwest end. Among them, to my delight, was a 2CY Glaucous Gull (presumably the same bird seen in Newhaven and Eastbourne recently), a 2CY Caspian Gull and two Yellow-legged Gulls (an adult and a 4CY).

2CY Glaucous Gull

4CY Yellow-legged Gull

adult Yellow-legged Gull

2CY Caspian Gull

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Goring Gap, Ferring Rife and Sullington

An hour seawatch in the morning produced two Red-throated Divers, 25 Gannets, over 100 Kittiwakes, three Common Gulls, 648 auks (mostly Razorbills, one Guillemot identified) and two Wigeon, as well as uncounted Red-breasted Mergansers and Great Crested Grebes on the sea. The female Stonechat was still in the rough area.

A walk along Ferring Rife produced a Snipe and a Chiffchaff. Another Mediterranean Gull was on the beach.

While waiting for Ingrid working on a fish tank near Sullington I took a walk around the nearby farmland, seeing eight Yellowhammers and a Sparrowhawk of note.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Arundel, Offham, Church Norton, Medmerry, Goring Gap and Newhaven

A big day out started at The Black Rabbit, Arundel. Here at dawn we logged two Woodcocks, two Barn Owls, a Tawny Owl, a Kingfisher, a Firecrest, a Mandarin, four Marsh Harriers, a Brambling, a Reed Bunting, a Sparrowhawk, three Little Egrets, two Egyptian Geese, and, least expected, heard a Little Owl calling from behind us.

A flying visit to Offham had us viewing the 10 Bewick's Swans from a different angle to the norm! A flock of 41 Cormorants heading south was interesting.

Church Norton was disappointing for birds offshore, with only a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers and a few distant flocks of Razorbills, though a flock of 60 surely wild Barnacle Geese in-off and an adult male Peregrine feasting on a kill made the stop worthwhile.

Medmerry was gusty but provided two Black Redstarts, as well as the usual Common Scoter raft offshore.

Black Redstart at Medmerry

Goring Gap was quiet other than good numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers and Great Crested Grebes offshore and some of the usual waders on the beach, including around 40 Grey Plovers.

We visited Riverside Park, Newhaven, for the HUME'S WARBLER, which thankfully gave good, though brief, views in the end, and treated us to occasional bouts of incessant calling. Also on site was a Chiffchaff, a Cetti's Warbler, a Sparrowhawk, 20 Lapwings and a Redwing.

The East Pier at Newhaven held three Purple Sandpipers.

Arundel, Offham, Church Norton, Medmerry RSPB, Goring Gap and Newhaven

A day out with Surrey birders Ed and Arjun started at The Black Rabbit, Arundel. Here at dawn we logged two Woodcocks, two Barn Owls, a Tawny Owl, a Kingfisher, a Firecrest, a Mandarin, four Marsh Harriers, a Brambling, a Reed Bunting, a Sparrowhawk, three Little Egrets, two Egyptian Geese, and, least expected, heard a Little Owl calling from behind us.

A flying visit to Offham had us viewing the 10 Bewick's Swans from a different angle to the norm! A flock of 41 Cormorants heading south was interesting.

Church Norton was disappointing for birds offshore, with only a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers and a few distant flocks of Razorbills, though a flock of 60 surely wild Barnacle Geese in-off and an adult male Peregrine feasting on a kill made the stop worthwhile.

Medmerry was gusty but provided two Black Redstarts, as well as the usual Common Scoter raft offshore.

Black Redstart at Medmerry

Goring Gap was quiet other than good numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers and Great Crested Grebes offshore and some of the usual waders on the beach, including around 40 Grey Plovers.

We visited Riverside Park, Newhaven, for the HUME'S WARBLER, which thankfully gave good, though brief, views in the end, and treated us to occasional bouts of incessant calling. Also on site was a Chiffchaff, a Cetti's Warbler, a Sparrowhawk, 20 Lapwings and a Redwing.

The East Pier at Newhaven held three Purple Sandpipers.

Rodmell Brooks held the two Pink-footed Geese amid the Mute Swan herd, while six Little Egrets flew through and a flock of Redwings contained a couple of Fieldfares.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Buckland Sand Pits

My latest semi-regular circuit of Buckland with Ian Magness produced an adult Mediterranean Gull, five Mandarins, three Snipe, two Egyptian Geese, eight Siskins, a Grey Wagtail, two Linnets, a Mistle Thrush, two Nuthatches, a singing Treecreeper, two Grey Herons, 80 Stock Doves, eight Little Grebes, five Great Crested Grebes, two Tufted Ducks, 44 Wigeon, four Shovelers, 27 Gadwall and a Teal among 53 species logged.

adult Mediterranean Gull

Friday, 11 January 2019

Piddinghoe Boating Lake, Cuckmere Haven and Goring Gap

A look around Piddinghoe Boating Lake for Bearded Tits produced only a Rock Pipit of note.

In the hope of an interesting gull or two, Cuckmere Haven was checked but there was nothing unusual among the 590 Great Black-backed Gulls and 17 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, though the latter species was new for the year for me. Curlew, Grey Plover, Redwing, Little Egret, Teal and Shelduck were among other species logged.

We raced back to Goring Gap for a spanking first-winter Caspian Gull found by Garry Messenbird. Two Mediterranean Gulls and a Lesser Black-backed Gull were in the same field.

2CY Caspian Gull at Goring Gap

2CY Caspian Gull at Goring Gap

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Goring Gap, Ham/Medmerry RSPB and The Burgh

Phil came down for the day and we arranged to meet at Goring Gap but with a NNW wind and a very low early morning tide, I thought after a swift scan we'd be cutting our losses and moving elsewhere. Pleasingly, though, the sea was rather busy, with a Slavonian Grebe and a Great Northern Diver the clear highlights, along with three Common Scoters, three Mute Swans, 128 Great Crested Grebes, 58 Red-breasted Mergansers, 42 Gannets, three Red-throated Divers, six Razorbills and 52 auks. Seven Mediterranean Gulls patrolled the beach, where Sanderlings, Dunlin, Oystercatchers, Grey Plovers and Turnstones were feeding as usual. A Goldcrest called at the seaward end of The Plantation.

Along the road at Ham, we picked up a Corn Bunting, 250 Stock Doves, six Yellowhammers and six Meadow Pipits. Once at the Ham Viewpoint at Medmerry, we scanned relentlessly for the Hooded Crow for about an hour but to no avail. 70 Common Scoters, 10 Red-breasted Mergansers, three Dark-bellied Brent Geese and seven Red-throated Divers were visible offshore. Two Peregrines were stationed on fence posts, a young female and an adult male, while at least two Marsh Harriers quartered, spooking Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall and Shelduck. A male Stonechat, a few Skylarks and a couple of Reed Buntings were active below us. Waders included two Bar-tailed Godwits, 200 Dunlin, five Curlews, 35 Lapwings and nine Grey Plovers.

The Burgh was yet again a natural finish to the day, not many Red Kites and Buzzards were noted but a Merlin showed well as dusk approached, followed by a good performance from two ringtail Hen Harriers. Ravens and Grey Partridges formed the backdrop yet again, and other stuff noted included two Fieldfares, a Redwing and a couple each of Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Ashdown Forest and The Burgh

This morning I parked up at the Gills Lap car park in the Ashdown Forest and set out to find the wintering 'butcherbird' which I'd had wonderful views of with Dick Filby back in November. As before, I pointed the scope in the direction of the bird's favoured area and scanned repeatedly till, after about 45 minutes, I picked up the Great Grey Shrike over half a mile away. Bingo! Happily, an interested dog-walker and a birder passed while I had it in view and managed a look through my scope. Walking round to nearer where the bird was hunting failed to produce any further views. A couple of Dartford Warblers and Bullfinches, 16 Crossbills, a Lesser Redpoll, nine Reed Buntings, two Stonechats and a Fieldfare were among the other birds logged. A quick look around the corner at Old Lodge produced another Lesser Redpoll, a Siskin and seven more Crossbills but little else.

Great Grey Shrike at Wren's Warren

Crossbill near Gill's Lap car park

I got to The Burgh for late afternoon, where for the first time I ventured beyond 'The Triangle' and actually walked around the site, all the way to the dew pond, where I enjoyed upgraded views of a juvenile Hen Harrier and a Short-eared Owl. 150 Lapwings were joined by a Golden Plover in the bare fields, a Yellowhammer and three Reed Buntings called and other stuff included four of both Red Kite and Buzzard, two Kestrels and six Meadow Pipits. As dusk fell, the cacophony of Grey Partridges and Ravens made for a most evocative soundscape.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Goring Gap, West Rise Marsh and Newhaven

A very quick look from a quiet Goring Gap yielded 14 Red-breasted Mergansers, 28 Great Crested Grebes, two Redshanks, 16 Oystercatchers, 28 Grey Plovers and a few Sanderlings, Dunlin, Turnstones and two Mediterranean Gulls.

West Rise Marsh was the next port of call, where I was hoping for Water Pipits. I had no success with these at first but scanning a distant slither of West Langney Lake turned up gold in the form a 2CY female Ring-necked Duck! After getting satisfactory views and record shots, I drove round to the car park and viewed from the edge of the lake, where I was joined by Matt Eade and we got much improved views of this 12th record for Sussex (and the first since 2007) as it fed happily near the edge, loosely associating with Tufted Ducks. Two Water Pipits which flew from a nearby flooded area fulfilled the original quest, though this had been somewhat sidelined! Other stuff noted included five Stonechats.


2CY female Ring-necked Duck at West Rise Marsh

Stopping at Newhaven quickly on the way home produced seven Purple Sandpipers and four Turnstones on the East Arm, while a Fulmar flew along the cliffs, a Red-legged Partridge called near the car park and two Guillemots flew west.

Purple Sandpiper on the Newhaven East Arm
Turnstone on the Newhaven East Arm

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Emsworth, Rye Harbour and Pett Level

The day started with dipping Waxwings on the Sussex side of Emsworth, flyover Grey Wagtail and Little Egret being the only birds of note. Ingrid and I then made the voyage to Rye Harbour, connecting with the three Twite on my second attempt near the Gooders Hide as they fed on the edge of the beach reserve with Skylarks. A Rock Pipit was also noted, as well as a scattering of wildfowl and waders, including Pintail, Grey and Golden Plovers, etc. Ingrid enjoyed a good showing of Shovelers, one of her favourites. We then moved on to Pett Level for a quick look, connecting with eight Velvet Scoters among Common Scoters offshore, where a few Red-throated Divers flew by. At least four Russian White-fronted Geese were visible in the distance, along with a Ruff, a Marsh Harrier, good numbers of Curlews and Lapwings and two Dark-bellied Brent Geese.

Velvet and Common Scoters off Pett Level

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Arundel, Selsey Bill, Pagham Harbour, Dell Quay, Climping and The Burgh

Today was a casual-mega day out with Nick and Garry. The natural starting point was The Black Rabbit at Arundel, where we arrived before first light to the sound of two Tawny Owls behind the car park. In the gloam we clocked the 10 Bewick's Swans leaving the reserve to spent the day feeding in nearby pastures, as well as two Barn Owls, three Mandarins, a Woodcock and four Marsh Harriers. A Firecrest showed nicely, two Egyptian Geese and three Little Egrets flew over. We also heard Water Rail, Cetti's Warbler, Mistle Thrush, Snipe, Chiffchaff and Reed Bunting.

Moving round the corner to Swanbourne Lake, a donder around added three Pochards, additional Firecrest and Mistle Thrush, a couple of Treecreepers and singles of Coal Tit, Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Next up was Selsey Bill, where the sea delivered two Great Northern Divers, an Eider, five Red-throated Divers, good numbers of Razorbills, a Guillemot and a few Red-breasted Mergansers. A Grey Wagtail flew over and a Mediterranean Gull was along the beach.

Church Norton rewarded with the wholly unexpected, but much appreciated, sight of a Black-throated Diver within the harbour. It was feeding actively well within the mouth but after one particular dive we lost sight of it entirely. A nice selection of common waders included Bar-tailed Godwits, Grey Plovers, Turnstones and Ringed Plovers, while seven Mediterranean Gulls formed a small group. Three Red-breasted Mergansers and three Goldeneyes were within the harbour and it was nice to see a tight flock of eight Little Grebes and a few Pintail distantly. On the sea we enjoyed 18 Slavonian Grebes and a distant pair of Velvet Scoters, as well as Red-throated Diver. A flying visit to nearby Marsh Farm added Cattle Egret - with at least 12 of the flock showing at close range but we couldn't stay long.

Black-throated Diver in Pagham Harbour at Church Norton

Slavonian Grebe off Church Norton

Cattle Egrets at Marsh Farm, Sidlesham

We flew by Drayon Pit, part of the Chichester Gravel Pits complex, adding the Great White Egret which Garry had seen there on New Year's Eve. This wonderfully undisturbed pit was full of wildfowl and looked ripe for a scarce duck or heron turning up. Worthy of regular checking... We then backtracked slightly, changing plan from a visit to Westdean Woods to instead stopping at Dell Quay. Highlights there included two Spotted Redshanks, a Greenshank, six Goldeneyes and a few Red-breasted Mergansers, nine Little Grebes and good numbers of Black-tailed Godwits, Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Grey Plovers, Pintail, Wigeon, Teal. etc.

Another short stop was made at Climping, where we hoped to bag the Red-necked Grebe reported earlier in the day. Despite the three of us scanning intently for 20 minutes, just after other observers had left, besides Great Crested Grebes we could 'only' find a Slavonian Grebe. Sanderling, however, was an addition to the day list, and several Red-breasted Mergansers were offshore.

We rounded the day off by spending the last couple of hours of light at The Burgh. Eventually we got eyes on two ringtail Hen Harriers and a Short-eared Owl quartering. Two Grey Partridges and a few Red-legged Partridges were logged, while one field held a mix of Fieldfares and Skylarks. A couple of respectable flocks of Linnets were bombing around, and two Marsh Harriers (including an adult male) and a small handful of Red Kites and Buzzards were logged.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Goring Gap, Shoreham harbour, Castle Hill (Woodingdean), Rye Harbour and Scotney Gravel Pits

Where else to start the year but Goring Gap? I only gave it the first 45 minutes of the day, though, as it was clearly quieter than yesterday. Smaller numbers of Great Crested Grebes and Red-breasted Mergansers were on the sea, while a Wigeon, four Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 35 Gannets, three Razorbills, two Red-throated Divers and seven auks were also noted offshore. Sanderling, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Turnstone and Grey Plover were all duly logged and 10 Mediterranean Gulls were in the fields.

On the way to Rye Harbour, a couple of nice drive-by sightings were a Peregrine over Shoreham harbour and two Ravens as I drove past Castle Hill, Woodingdean. I failed to find any of the recently reported Twite at Rye, where the clear highlight was the spectacle of some 3,000 Golden Plovers wheeling around, their wingbeats somehow audible despite the place being crammed with people (to the point that the massive car park was full and I had to park in the village). Other sightings included two Marsh Harriers, two Cetti's Warblers, a Water Rail, a Raven, a Stonechat, three Goldeneyes and two Egyptian Geese.

Golden Plovers at Rye Harbour

A bank of cloud darkened the sky by 14:30 and I felt as though I ought to cut my losses with the Twite. I toyed with the idea of going to Horse Eye Level but figured it was too late, so headed to Scotney for some wildfowl. Two adult Whooper Swans - present here for several weeks - were distantly viewable with a herd of Mute Swans. Two adult Russian White-fronted Geese were on the main pit, along with 173 feral Barnacle Geese and an Egyptian Goose. A couple of Golden Plovers were with the Lapwings and a Buzzard watched on the sidelines.