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.

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]

Alpine Swift

An Alpine Swift in the Ouse Valley this morning. watched in the region of Piddinghoe for a few minutes at around 10.30 *UPDATE* the bird was actually found by Andrew Whitcomb at Rodmell village for about 20 mins before it headed South (see Kemp Town Enclosures) – not reported subsequently as far as I’m aware.

This morning there were lots of birders out at Tidemills/Ouse Estuary Project looking for it, and yesterday’s Glaucous Gull and Garganey. The best  we could manage at OEP was a Common Tern, a couple of smart adult Mediterranean Gulls, at least seven Chiffchaffs and a Cetti’s Warbler.

Crane departed?

Several observers saw the Piddinghoe Crane fly off strongly to the North at around 10.30 on Saturday morning, and it wasn’t reported again all day. Will those of us who left our pilgimage to see it a little late (in my case about 2.5 hours after the last sighting) regret it?

The Ouse valley can seem rather birdless: a walk from Southease up to Rodmell and back for Paul Stevens and me on Saturday afternoon produced five Common Buzzards in the air at once, a single Corn Bunting and one Cetti’s Warbler (in the usual spot at Beddingham) but not much else.

In partial compensation, plenty of reports of Red Kite over the past few days, from Firle, Glynde and Lewes.

Ouse Valley, Tuesday

A good selection of birds between Southease and Lewes a couple of days ago (reported by Jeremy Patterson, via SOS sightings):

Cetti’s Warbler and Chiffchaff heard at Southease. Passerine flock still evident at Rodmell with good numbers of Corn and Reed Buntings and Sky Larks. Male and female Merlin there with up to 4 Common Buzzards, 11 Little Egrets and 17 Grey Herons. Elsewhere, pair Stonechat, several Redshanks, 2 Oystercatchers, 1-2 Green Sandpipers, 1 Curlew over, 1 Common Sandpiper below A27 bypass and 106 Common Gulls in field south of A27.

Black Reds, Ouzel and Dartford + Cetti’s

Lots of late autumn migration this weekend. In our area, a couple of Black Redstarts at Newhaven Tidemills this morning (Jon Curson), a Ring Ouzel and a Dartford Warbler at Hope Gap (Mack Burnside).

Meanwhile, a count of 3-4 Cetti’s Warblers between Southease and Rodmell was notable, as was an upstream Rock Pipit (Liam and Jon Curson).

(both via SOS sightings)

Newhaven and Lewes Brooks 14.10.08

Bit of a quiet spell in Sussex of late, but some good local fare seen by Joanne Chattaway, Sue Phillips & Alan Nottage on Tuesday:

Corn Buntings look a bit) like this

Corn Buntings look (a bit) like this

Highlights at West Beach, Newhaven were 6 Rock Pipits and a Raven.

Lewes Brooks highlights were about 10 Corn Buntings, 100+ Goldfinches, 100+ Linnets, 1 Snipe, 1 Cetti’s Warbler, a Kingfisher and David Williams.

(per SOS sightings)

Good to hear that a Cetti’s is hanging on at Lewes Brooks. They’re thinly scattered in the Ouse Valley – a cold winter and we may not have any left.

Meanwhile, Corn Buntings are perhaps easier to see at Lewes Brooks in this season than on many local downland sites.