Bearded Reedlings at South Heighton

Up to four Bearded Tits have been present in reeds on the east side of the river Ouse opposite Piddinghoe Pond since at least last Wednesday which were found by Steven Munday who also saw another small group nearer to Southease on Friday.

Lovely close views of these birds which fed endlessly picking at the seeds on the reed heads, on more than one occasion they dropped onto the ice below the reeds and could be watched running around the reed stems.


Lewes Brooks and Swanborough

The footpath between Iford and Lewes isn’t one I’m familiar with, so with the nearby RSPB reserve looking productively soggy I thought it was time for a visit.

View over Lewes Brooks from Swanborough

There are decent views (if not smells) from the path where it runs behind the sewage treatment works at Swanborough. From here most of the flood can be scanned.

There wasn’t actually much on it today, but as one of the only serially wet bits of the Ouse Valley, it’s only a matter of time. In the surrounding pasture there were 30+ Lapwings and a brief Peregrine overhead.

Around the (mainly frozen) fishing lakes in between the path and the brooks, quite a lot seen or heard: 1-2 Cetti’s Warblers, Water Rail, 2 Wigeon, 2 Teal, 45 Mallard and a Snipe.

A constant chuckling soundtrack was provided by a couple of hundred Fieldfares in the trees, while on the sewage works there were 10 Moorhens and singles each of Pied and Grey Wagtail – the latter hitching a ride one of the rotating arms.

A quick look at Firle Beacon on the way the home was worth it for the drive up to the top. Around 25-30 Chaffinches were feeding on the road, joined by a male Reed Bunting and 2+ Yellowhammers. The Bramblings seen two weeks ago in nearby game cover didn’t appear, but could well do with a longer look.

July and early August round-up

Common Blue butterflies in Firle, by Mary Berridge

Common Blues in Firle, by Mary Berridge

So, everything went quiet after the Red-footed Falcon, but things have started to move again.

Among the commoner migrant warblers noted at Seaford Head in recent days there have been several Grasshopper Warblers and Nightingales , and today the first Pied Flycatcher of the season.

A Black Redstart at High and Over on 31 July preceded one at Firle two days later – an unusual time of year for this species, recalling an early-autumn record at Alciston a few years back.

At Arlington Reservoir, Jacob Everitt has turned up some good waders, including 2 Black-tailed Godwits on 22nd,  and Little Ringed Plover (juv) and 9 Common Sandpipers on 29th.

The Red Kite (kites?) continues to be seen, with luck, mainly along the escarpment between the lower Cuckmere and Firle. Hobbies have been typically low-profile, but continue to be seen occasionally. And a strange-looking Kestrel photographed at Malling appears to be leucistic – resembling a small, pale harrier (see The Lyons Den for a picture)

Meanwhile Pearl-bordered Fritillaries had their best recorded year of recent times at Abbott’s Wood, with over 250 recorded.

Abbot’s Wood

Arrived at Abbot’s Wood, Arlington just as it was clouding over on Saturday.

Bluebells and Yellow Archangel

Fortunately, being mid-May, the Nightingales couldn’t help themselves. Four or five gave brief bursts, all in the woodland between Bates Green, the lake and the car park.

A Cuckoo kept us company much of the way – is it me or are they easier to hear than last year? Above the path at one point, nine young Long-tailed Tits bunched in a row, occasionally joined by a frenzied adult.

At the lake, the first of five or six Willow Warblers sang, while on the water a pair of Canada Geese were training their five goslings in the time-honoured art of Approaching Picknickers for Sandwich Crusts and Hula Hoops.

Canada Geese teaching offspring how to scrounge

Canada Goose teaching offspring how to scrounge

Other birds included Great Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper, Kestrel and Goldcrest, with plenty of Blackcaps and a couple of likely Garden Warblers for backup.

Despite its busyness, Abbot’s Wood is a pretty good place to see (or more often hear) birds. I’m surprised more unusual things aren’t reported from here.

Some of the clearings and heathy bits look good for Tree Pipit, but I don’t know of a record for the wood. The same goes for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Hawfinch – scarce in East Sussex I know, but still. Surely a wood of this size deserves a pair or two?

Perhaps I’m being dim about the soil conditions, or the age of the woodland. Maybe it’s because it’s relatively isolated from other big wooded areas (unlike the woods around Hastings and Battle, for instance).

Can anyone enlighten me?

Arlington Res.

Thanks to Bob Eade`s post on SOS sightings page regarding drake Goldeneye at Arlington Reservoir a couple of days ago prompted me to make an early morning visit today and fortunately one bird was still present and feeding close in to the dam at times, using the move when it dived approach  I was able to get  some pleasing  images.

In search of a Crane

I spent the day up and down the Ouse valley searching for the  Common Crane and had an unproductive morning personally although Mark Austin had seen the bird on west side of river a few hundred mts below Southease at 9 a.m. The afternoon proved otherwise as at approx. 14.45 p.m. in the company of John King  we located the bird just north of Piddinghoe and in almost  the same spot as I`d seen it yesterday,we watched it for about an hour walking and feeding in a wet field before it flew off in a south westerly direction over the C7 and was lost from our view but appeared to be losing height, didn`t know till this evening that Mark had walked up onto the hill north of Piddinghoe and had the bird fly overhead and land nearby where he watched it for about 30 minutes. Approx. map ref. TQ 425035.


A very slight hint of red noticeable on birds head just above the eye.

Hundreds of Fieldfare with handfuls of Redwing throughout the day in the surrounding fields, two Common Sandpiper together along the river and an overhead Buzzard  with Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail and Sparrowhawk also noted.

Waders at Rodmell, Woodcock in Firle

Sightings at Rodmell beginning to warm up… several reports via the SOS site in recent days, including those of 60+ Golden Plover with the increasing numbers of Lapwings, plus 20 Dunlin and Curlew, with small groups of buntings and Skylarks also noted.

Reflecting the influx elsewhere in the county, a Woodcock seen on Christmas Day in Firle, by Paul Stevens.

Seven sisters cliffs image by ben patio, reproduced under CC licence

Seven sisters image by Flickr user ben patio