Monday, 5 April 2021

Spring stunners in Sussex (01-05 April)

Monday 05 April. I visited Pulborough in the hope of seeing the male Pied Flycatcher which had been present but elusive for a couple of days. After a quick look from the Hanger I saw the Pied Flycatcher feeding along the sheltered side of the field to the south. Nice views although never as close as I would have liked. While at Pulborough I also saw 2 Wigeon, 4 Avocets, 4 distant Little Ringed Plovers, Red Kite, Jay, 5 Chiffchaffs, 4 Blackcaps and 3 Redpolls. I continued up to Warnham Nature Reserve. I can't remember when I last visited but it was a long time ago. Consequently I didn't recognise anything but fortunately it was well signposted from the A24. I arrived at the Bullfinch blind just after the Little Bunting had performed but only had to wait half an hour for it to reappear. A pair of Siskins helped pass the time while I was waiting.

Pied Flycatcher at Pulborough Brooks RSPB
shockingly it was my first spring male in Britain for over 20 years




Siskin at Warnham Nature Reserve


male Reed Bunting at Warnham starting to show some breeding plumage
after a half hour wait the Little Bunting suddenly appeared












Sunday 04 April. A pre-dawn start saw me heading for West Rise Marsh feeling fairly hopeful of a repeat performance from the Red-rumped Swallow that had been seen there the previous morning and evening. A photo by finder Al Redman of 4 species of hirundine roosting in a bush made it very tempting. I was there with others for about four hours from dawn but no sign. I did see drake Garganey, 200+ Sand Martins and Swallows and a few House Martins, 2 Cetti's Warblers, a scruffy looking Siberian Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler and fairly grim flight views of 2+ Water Pipits. The swallow reappeared about an hour after I left but I wasn't returning although I probably would have seen it if I had.

Saturday 03 April. On otherwise dull two hours of seawatching from Widewater produced a juvenile Glaucous Gull following for a while a small fishing boat heading east about a mile offshore. The gull was picked out several times as the boat came closer but I lost sight of it before it was level with me. Disappointing as I'd hoped it might follow the boat all the way into Shoreham Harbour. Also seen were a Shelduck, 17 Common Scoter, 14 Sandwich Terns, 16 distant auks, a summer-plumaged Red-throated Diver and 10 Gannets. Megan, Nessa and Cookie joined me and as it was low tide we walked along the sand to Brooklands, me hoping the gull might have doubled back and be amongst the gulls along the shoreline. It wasn't, neither was anything else. On the way home I stopped at the Adur seeing 400+ Herring Gulls including a yellowish-legged adult, 4 Oystercatchers, single Redshank and Little Egret and a Red Kite which flew north over the airfield.

gulls following distant fishing boat - the Glaucous doesn't appear to be visible in this or any of the other photos I took
Herring Gull with yellowish legs on the Adur
Red Kite over the airfield

Friday 02 April. I took Cookie up to the Beeding Hill car park and we walked our triangular circuit in a biting northerly wind. We'd only been in the car for a couple of minutes and heading up Park Avenue when 2 Cattle Egrets flew across in front of us heading NE. Had I been standing in our front garden I could probably have seen them crossing our road. Not an unexpected new bird for my '5 miles from home' list, just not one I was expecting in urban Shoreham. Our walk started almost as well with a male Marsh Harrier flying west from Beeding Hill. I also saw 2 Buzzards, Peregrine, Raven, 13 Sky Larks, 8 Meadow Pipits, Chiffchaff, 4 Linnets, 17 Goldfinches, 3 Corn Buntings and 3 Yellowhammers. News from David Buckingham of 4 Garganey on the riverside pool northwest of Streatham Bridge proved too tempting (Garganey often are) and I decided to cycle there along the Downslink. It would have been easier without the strong north wind but I eventually made it. The 4 Garganey (2 pairs) were present on the pool but very jumpy. Unfortunately the pool is quite close to the riverbank footpath and I arrived at the same time as an equestrian. The Garganey took flight, circled around and landed again in the poolside vegetation. Two minutes later a couple with a dog appeared on the riverbank and they took flight again. Another circuit and back down but not for long and this tie they headed towards the Downslink and dropped behind some trees, presumably into a ditch. I waited 20 minutes but the did not return. Cycling back I stopped at Steyning Sewage Works seeing 15-20 Swallows and 2 Grey Wagtails and returned home with legs of jelly. It had definitely been worth it.

Yellowhammer near Truleigh Hill

Meadow Pipit on Truleigh Hill
drake Garganey on Wyckham Pool
very flighty


a very smart duck and one I'm always pleased to see in the spring

Thursday 01 April. An hour watching from Widewater in a moderate NE wind produced just 2 Brent Geese, a Whimbrel, 5 Sandwich Terns and 3 Gannets. Later with Megan and Cookie we walked around the Adur seeing 11 Oystercatchers, 5 Turnstones, 2 Meadow Pipits and 11 Goldfinches.

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