Alpine Swift etc – Weekend roundup

A rush of activity around the Ouse this weekend, worthy of a roundup.

Highlight was the ALPINE SWIFT seen at Rodmell this morning – the first locally since the twitchable Lewes bird two years ago.

Also reported today from Lewes Brooks: two White Wagtails (Andrew and Ian Whitcomb), two Med Gulls, a pair of Garganey and a Wheatear (Alan Kitson, SOS sightings).

Viewing screen at the OEP

At the Ouse Estuary project yesterday, a GLAUCOUS GULL, five Med Gulls and two drake Garganey (How many seen in the Ouse Valley already this spring? Six? Ten?). Today at least two Med Gulls still there, as well as my earliest ever Common Tern*, at least seven Chiffchaffs and a Cetti’s Warbler. Good to see the water levels here looking wildlife-friendly (for years it looked like someone had forgotten to put the plug in).

Wheatears were seen widely, including several at Tidemills and ten on Seaford Head, where there was also a Black Redstart reported (Derek Barber & Tracey Lambert, SOS sightings). Movement offshore has also livened up, with plenty of Brent Geese yesterday from Splash Point, amongst other birds (see Liam Curson’s report for more detail).

Meanwhile a Firecrest by the cricket field in Firle yesterday was my first in the village for three years, and a day in advance of the first singing Chiffchaffs.

Bring on the rest of Spring.

* it seems this is the joint earliest Common Tern ever recorded in Sussex [see Liam’s comment and link]



A few long-staying birds:

Four Bearded Tits remain on show at the Ouse Estuary Project.

The Great Northern Diver was reported again on Friday, on the scrape at Cuckmere Haven.

The Firecrest was seen again at Rodmell.

Also some good seabirds seen from Seaford on Friday by Bob Self:

“After a few utterly futile attempts to find anything on the sea at Splash Point recently, a two hour bitterly cold vigil in excellent light and wind conditons proved remarkably productive with one Black-throated Diver (briefly landed on the sea before going west at 10.40); one Great Northern Diver fairly close inshore going east (possibly two); 4 Red-throated Diver; 14 Diver sp.;12 Brent Geese; 11 Common Scoter; several Fulmar; one Auk sp. and 6 Gannets. In addition, on the beach beneath the cliffs at Splash Point I recorded an adult Yellow-legged Gull and what appeared (to my untutored eye) to be a recently deceased Dolphin around 70 cm in length.”

Hawfinch at Exceat, 9 Nov

A Hawfinch was a nice surprise for Alan Kitson at Exceat on Sunday (via SOS sightings).

There are no reliable local spots for this species, as far as I’m aware, and generally the only records are of odd ones passing through, usually on the coast. It would be great to have a wintering party – somewhere in Friston or up at Abbott’s Wood, perhaps? If the food’s right, they’re not necessarily fussy about the wild qualities of their wintering grounds – take the spot on the edge of Romsey in Hampshire where several birds return each season.

Other news for Sunday: three Swallows seen at Seaford (Liam Curson) and a Ring Ouzel and Brent Goose at Cuckmere Haven (Joanne Chattaway, both via SOS sightings).