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.

More Garganey?

A pair of Garganey today, this time 1K North of Southease Bridge, on the West side of the river. The same as the two seen south of the bridge last week?

Also three Chiffchaffs there, and one at Arlington Reservoir, while 9 Purple Sandpipers remain at Newhaven Harbour, and a Black Redstart was seen at Splash Point, Seaford.

[sightings via SOS site and the Sussex Nature blog – see latter for pics]

Cattle Egret at Southease

After yesterday’s Crane, another good report for the lower Ouse – a Cattle Egret, seen from a train in fields south of Southease, and reported to Birdguides.

After a rash of records between Piddinghoe and Lewes in the last decade, this bird will, if confirmed, cement the area’s claim to be among the best in the UK for the species.

*UPDATE*

Liam Curson was the egret finder – eventual reward for having spent most of Saturday’s daylight hours in the field looking for Friday’s Crane.

Also of note, 4 Green Sandpipers, Chiffchaff, Peregrine and 1000+ Lapwings along Glynde Reach, with Common Sandpiper just south of Lewes. (all via SOS sightings)

Arlington reservoir area

An afternoon walk aroundthe north side of the res. and down to the river and weir and back to the car park produced 6 warblers (Cetti’s,Willow,Chiffchaff,Common Whitethroat,Lesser Whitethroat and Blackcap) 4 Common Buzzards and 2 Grey Wagtails .

Weekend roundup

The trickle of early spring migrants continued during the fine weekend.

Old Coach Road, looking west near Beanstalk, FirleBy Saturday, there were at least 5 Chiffchaffs singing around Firle (with territorial Stock Doves (2-3 pairs), Buzzards (1 pair), Green and GS Woodpecker (1 each).

The SOS walk at Newhaven Tidemills turned up more Wheatears, plus 12 Purple Sandpipers on the harbour arm (Neil Greenaway), with a Razorbill on the sea there on Sunday (Roger Barnett).

In the lower Cuckmere Valley, a couple of Scandinavian Rock Pipits were seen by Bob Edgar on the patch of saltmarsh just south of the Golden Galleon (and reports of six there last week), plus a Black Redstart and 2 Wheatears.

Late last week there were a couple of Sand Martins reported at Arlington Reservoir, with the first local House Martin reported today from Hailsham (via Birdguides)

And the last few days have seen many reports of Red Kites – most in West Sussex, but probably worth keeping eyes peeled for them anywhere at the moment.

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.