Monday, 15 July 2019

Pett Level, Pannel Valley NR and Adur Estuary

I eventually made it over to East Sussex this morning after battling through the usual traffic. An initial scan over Pett Level revealed a family of Marsh Harriers, three Whimbrel keeping just out of a flock of 53 Curlew and a couple of Common Terns. But best of all was a Common Sandpiper. My first of the year no less - I'm not quite sure how I managed not to see one for so long. Most of the Aythya ducks were hanging out on the eastern pool, so I spent a good while scanning through the ensemble, made up of Pochard, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Teal and Gadwall, all in alternate plumage. One more scan, however, and almost to my surprise there was the reported FERRUGINOUS DUCK in all its glory. It was distant, and was mostly sleeping, but it was a fine, pure drake. As I moved on, nine Sand Martins and a couple of Swifts flew through.

drake Ferruginous Duck at Pett Level

Feeling somewhat elevated, I set out along the canal at the west end towards the enigmatic Pannel Valley Nature Reserve, encountering a Lesser Whitethroat and a handful of Sedge and Reed Warblers along the way, plus a flyover Raven. It is years since my last visit here, due as much to an - I suppose - unfounded sense that visitors are not particularly welcome, as the testing journey. I entered the first hide and quickly picked up the beautiful adult Curlew Sandpiper feeding opposite, as well as three Little Ringed Plovers (including a juvenile). Another birder joined me briefly before trying the other hide. After a few minutes, I followed him over and he gave me the inevitable news that the Pectoral Sandpiper had just shown for him before flying back towards the hide I'd just left. Without wanting to start to merry dance to and fro, I opted to stay put, enjoying establishing the presence of three Greenshanks and eight Black-tailed Godwits. Thankfully, soon the Pec appeared in flight and touched down for a few seconds to our left before settling on the far side, where it was dwarfed by a moulting male Ruff.

Lesser Whitethroat at Pett Level
Curlew Sandpiper at Pannel Valley NR

Pectoral Sandpiper at Pannel Valley NR

After walking back and taking a few minutes for lunch, I called back at Pett Pools for another look at the 'Fudge'. It was nowhere to be seen, and was presumably still in the reeds at the back, where it had drifted when I left it earlier. After hearing several earlier in the day (and at Rye in the early spring), though, I was glad to finally lay eyes on a male Bearded Tit as it flew over the vegetation. Two Common Gulls, an adult and a 2cy, were my first of the season, and six Sandwich Terns flew over.

On the way home, to break the monotony of the rush hour traffic I pulled off to have a quick scan of the Adur. I barely added to what I'd seen from the A27, with three Little Egrets and a count of 12 Mute Swans the most noteworthy sightings.