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.