Sunday, 21 July 2019

Knepp Estate, Hailsham and Rickney

After a bright and warm start to my and Darragh's visit to Knepp, the skies drew in and the temperature dropped. However, we did glimpse a couple of Purple Emperors, as well as a Brown Hairstreak and a few Purple Hairstreaks. Birds included a family of three Turtle Doves, a Kingfisher, a Red Kite, a Yellowhammer, two Mistle Thrushes, a Reed Warbler, a Grey Heron, two Great Crested Grebes and a scattering of Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Bullfinches and Treecreepers, etc.

juvenile Turtle Dove at Knepp Wildlands

Just when we were wondering how to spend the last few hours of the afternoon, news emerged of a Red-backed Shrike near Hailsham so I left Darragh to continue the quest for butterflies and shot off for East Sussex without much thought. Once on site, it became clear that I might well not in fact be on site... I realised that the directions were in fact extremely vague and the bird could theoretically have been at any point miles along Hurst Haven. I tried the Hailsham end, logging Cetti's Warbler, Reed Bunting, two House Martins, a Treecreeper, two Swallows and a Sparrowhawk, before deciding the bird was most probably actually seen at the opposite end of the haven. A 15-minute drive later, I only had half-an-hour to spare but checked what habitat I could, coming up with a Lesser Whitethroat, seven Swallows, a Reed Bunting and three Meadow Pipits but again no shrike.