Short-eared Owl at Bo Peep

A Short-eared Owl reported today by Barrie Norman at Bo Peep, Alciston (from Firle Birds).

Yesterday, a Woodcock at Frog Firle (Alfriston) seen by Bob Eade, who also had two Firecrests in his garden in Seaford (via SOS).

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Snipe + buntings at Alciston

DSC00699A late-afternoon visit to my old patch at Alciston made me happy – in the tiny reedbed I used to keep an eye on, a single Common Snipe, at least a dozen Reed Buntings going to roost, and half a dozen Yellowhammers in the nearby hedgerows (with perhaps twice that number in surrounding fields). Good to see that it’s still, in relative terms, a prime spot.

Elsewhere around the fields to the east of the village, quite a few Common Gulls, plenty of Pheasants, and not much else.

On The Street, near where it meets the Old Coach Road, our car disturbed a Sparrowhawk which had been busy disembowelling a Woodpigeon.

Migrants at Alciston

A brief wander up to my favourite piece of the escarpment at Alciston revealed:

Swallow 2
Yellowhammer 4+
Lesser Redpoll 1
Chiffchaff 2+
Blackbird c. 12
Song Thrush c. 8
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Common + BH Gull c.200

The concentration of thrushes, many of which were flighty and vocal, seemed to indicate migrants rather than local birds.

Several moths and butterflies active, including a Red Admiral.

Alciston 12.10.08

A warm misty morning, with the prospect of the sun burning through at any moment. In the end, it didn’t do so until the very end of our hour-long walk in Alciston.

The village street was quiet, with House Sparrows and Goldfinches most obvious, plus a ragged male Blackbird bathing noisily in a trough at the stableyard.

Up onto the Old Coach Road, we turned left towards Berwick, where the track runs deep between the hedges. As always, there were small birds here, including a singing Dunnock.

Where the hedge then disappears, suddenly the vista is wide open. Wide unploughed field margins have been established here for years, but this year there appears to be an innovation: a further wide strip of standing wheat. Through the mist, more small birds could be seen diving in and out of this promising-looking area.

A circuit of the large field, back round towards the church, revealed my first Redwing of the autumn, feeding in a favoured spot along one of the ancient hedgerows. Good numbers of Yellowhammers and Skylarks were heard all around the perimeter, with occasional Linnets and Meadow Pipits, and a solitary Kestrel.

On the field edge that leads directly back to the church, vines thick with red berries could be seen in the hedgerow – can anyone identify them for me? [*see comment below*]

Then back to the paddocks near the church, where Mistle Thrushes clattered amonst the trees, along with more discreet Goldcrests, as the low cloud finally gave way to the sun.