Monday, 2 December 2019

West Dean Woods to Scotney (28 November-2 December)

Monday 2 December. An enjoyable cold, sunny day in the Rye area with Matt who I met at Glynde shortly after 05:45 (I was a few minutes late due to unexpected de-icing). We started before dawn at the Bittern viewpoint at Rye. No Bitterns but 8 Great Egrets left the roost (4 then 2 then 2) as well as 4 Marsh Harriers (one a male), 2 Peregrines and 3-4000 Starlings. We walked around to Castle Water, the Long Pits and the Flat Beach seeing 4 Egyptian Geese, 75 Shoveller, 70 Pochard, a Goldeneye, 2 Kingfishers, Raven, a superb Cetti's Warbler and a Firecrest. Matt drove on to the Sussex end of Scotney where we saw 120 presumed feral Barnacle and 24 more Egyptian Geese, 2 Avocets and 3 Marsh Harriers (one a male). A brief stop on the way back to Pett added a Tree Sparrow - my first in Sussex since January 2009! At Pett we saw about 200 Scoter from which we picked out 11 Velvets, 7 Red-throated Divers, 2 Ruff, 180 Curlew, another Great Egret, 2 Marsh Harriers (one a young male), 2 Bearded Tits and 2 Reed Buntings. We finished the day back at the Bittern viewpoint (still no Bittern) but very much against the light we saw 3 Great Egrets come in, three Marsh Harriers (one a male)over the reedbed and 2000+ Starlings murmurating. Thanks to Matt for the driving. Next time I must remember to wear thicker socks and gloves.
Great Egret at Pett
sunset at Rye, Starling murmuration exit stage left ...

Sunday 1 DecemberMegan and I took Cookie to Brooklands hoping the Firecrests might still be around but we couldn't find them, just 2 Goldcrests and a Great Spotted Woodpecker seen around the bushes and Chiffchaff and Cetti's Warbler heard. Seven Teal and 4 male Pochard were on the lake although the latter flew off east at 09:55. 

Saturday 30 November. An enjoyable day out in West Sussex started at West Dean Woods and Monkton Farm where I arrived at 07:30 hoping to see a decent number of Hawfinches. I left after an hour having probably seen 11, mostly perched up although no more than five were on view at once. Also Buzzard, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 5 Jays, Marsh Tit, 3 Fieldfares, 25 Redwing, Mistle Thrush, 30 Chaffinces and 3 Greenfinches. I headed to Fishbourne where handily someone was watching the Water Pipit which showed well through a telescope. As the tide came in I saw Long-tailed Duck, 10 Goldeneye (5 males), 14 Red-breasted Mergansers, Slavonian Grebe, Spotted Redshank, 5 Greenshank, Kingfisher, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Stonechat and Rock Pipit. On the way home I spent 45 minutes at Sherwood Rough seeing an estimated 7 Hawfinches sitting up along the east edge of the clearing although no more than three were seen at once. Also there Jay, a Coal and 10 Long-tailed Tits, Nuthatch and male Redpoll. I still had time to drop into Arundel WWT before closing. Coal, Marsh and 10+ Blue Tits were on the feeders, Scaly-sided Mergansers, Harlequins and some smart Black-necked Grebes in the covered enclosures on my way to the hide. Two Marsh Harriers had roosted before I arrived but I saw three (including a male) and a ring-tail Hen Harrier that flew around the reedbed for 5 minutes before dropping in. A superb Kingfisher performed well but the light was too poor for photographs.

Redshank and barely identifiable Water Pipit at Fishbourne
fallen leaves in Rewell Woods
Friday 29 November. Taking advantage of some sunny weather Megan and I took Cookie to Rackham and Parham Park. Lots of duck were on the nearer, flooded part of Amberley Wild Brooks (at least 500 Wigeon and 30 Pintail) although with only 8x binoculars I didn't spend long looking through them. A five minute raptor watch from the lookout produced three distant harriers, a ring-tailed Hen and two female/juvenile Marsh. Although not much, 3 Coal and 5 Long-tailed Tits, 3 Goldcrests, 2 Nuthatches and 2 Redwings in the woodland was more than we usually manage. A walk in Parham Park added 6 Egyptian Geese and a ShelduckGreen Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush and 25 Goldfinches. Later I took Cookie up to Beeding Hill hoping to see Little Owl without success, Jackdaws appear to have moved into the area. Looking out over Beeding Brooks through a telescope I had a reasonable view of a Barn Owl despite it being over a mile away.
deer on Amberley Wild Brooks
Thursday 28 November. I took Cookie to Shoreham Fort where we saw 4 Turnstones, a Purple Sandpiper, Meadow Pipit and 30 Greenfinches. Widewater was very quiet with 4 Little Grebes and we soon moved on to the Adur Saltings to be sure to arrive before the tide come in too far. We arrived 90 minutes before a big high tide (6.5m) which was probably about right and watched from opposite the houseboats. I saw 26 Teal, 12 Lapwing, 66 Snipe, 68 Redshank, the Greenshank and Curlew, a second-winter Mediterranean Gull, a Kingfisher (seen twice), 7 Long-tailed Tits and a Rock Pipit. The snipe were flushed from the saltings by the rising tide, flying high off over the A259 in the direction of the Dogs Trust. In all 58 were seen flying off with 8 remaining in the small area of saltings left uncovered by the tide where the shanks and Curlew had gathered. Back home a Jay was seen in the one small tree in our front garden.
Greenshank and Redshank on the Adur
second-winter Mediterranean Gull on the Adur

Adur saltings at high tide
Jay in our front garden

the light was awful

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