spring is here

that’s right, yesterday (26 Feb) my first Western Honey-Bee of the year in the garden in Seaford, plus a migrating Common Buzzard (buteo buteo) which flew over heading North.

Among the gulls at Newhaven West Beach were an adult ICELAND GULL and a few Argentatus Herring Gulls (the scandinavian and nominate european race). Well that’s what I assume they were, but there are intergrades between Larus Argentatus Argentatus and L.A. Argenteus (our British subspecies of Herring Gull, which also inhabits Iceland and some of W Europe) that make racially identifying them more complicated. Gulls are a real pain to ID basically! But the ICELAND GULL (larus glaucoides) showed fairly well though very briefly among the other gulls on the breakwater, before somehow disappearing when the scope was taken off it for about 30 seconds! It was the first adult I’ve ever seen in, and I might hopefully get a better view of it before too long! There was also evidence of spring among the gulls, both Black-headed and Herring beginning their moult into summer plumage now. A Turnstone  heard calling somewhere out on the Breakwater was also a first for the site for me, very unusual considering the frequency with which I see both Purple Sandpiper and Ringed Plover in the area, which like very similar habitats.

On an unrelated note, my name is Liam, I am a local birder from Seaford and I’ve just started writing for this  blog!

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All sorts at Cuckmere Haven

An extraordinary selection of good birds reported from Cuckmere Haven today by Liam Curson. They included two Little Ringed Plovers, a Water Pipit, a Yellow-legged Gull, a Black-necked Grebe and six White Wagtails, plus a smart Bar-headed Goose (picture of the last and further details over at SOS Sightings)

Ordinarily, any one of these might have been the highlight of a trip to the Lower Cuckmere…

Elsewhere, two Redstarts seen by Bob Eade at Frog Firle (between Seaford and Alfriston), as well as several Whitethroats, which seem to have arrived widely in Sussex over the last few days.

Yesterday a Red Kite was reported from the Downs near Berwick (John Bailey & Mack Burnside, via SOS), with presumably the same bird seen over Seaford (via Birdguides).

Eight Buzzards over Rodmell was a good count  (Sharifin Gardiner, SOS).

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.

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.

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.