Piddinghoe Pond etc….

A redhead Smew still on Piddinghoe Pond this afternoon, which Jake and I found yesterday morning ,with a supporting cast of the long staying redhead Goosander, a drake Pochard, three Wigeon and a Great crested Grebe, four Bearded Tits seen, two pairs, of which one of the females was a dark streaked headed variant that was also present yesterday, a much improved size flock of Corn Buntings totalled at least 73 birds, only 10 yesterday, by far the best count of this winter to date.

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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.

Male Hen Harrier, Ouse Valley

An adult male Hen Harrier reported yesterday between Southease and Lewes (Andy Wright and Jon Devito, via SOS sightings). Is this the same bird seen on and off throughout the winter (including up at Bo Peep in the autumn)? Also 70 Corn Buntings noted.

Floods early this week around the train track at Glynde disappeared quickly, but there’s a great deal of surface water on the levels nearer Lewes, and a lot of gulls using it.

Egyptian Goose etc

A walk along the river from South Heighton up past Piddinghoe this afternoon proved quite interesting.
Fourteen Greylag & two Canada Geese in field alongside Piddinghoe Pond were the first Geese I`ve seen in the valley this year,a drake Shoveler on the pond itself, a pair of Wigeon flushed from a section of the old river on the east side between the railway line and riverbank. Single Common Sandpiper along the river near the old boat house,Twenty three Fieldfare in treetops near Piddinghoe church,  thirty one Corn Buntings on bush tops out in fields & three Mistle Thrushes in Donkey field, on return walk a cronking Raven flew overhead and an Egyptian Goose flew past down river, I hoped it might settle on the pond but I couldn`t relocate it.

Still Plenty at Rodmell

Lots of the good stuff still at Rodmell this afternoon, in a biting easterly.

First up, a Buzzard, a Mistle Thrush and a few Fieldfares around the car park at Monk’s House, then a pair of Peregrines chasing down (but failing to catch) an unidentified wader – the female bird was later seen making off with a largish, dark-looking item of prey (Moorhen? Jackdaw?), followed by the male.

The stubble field north of the track that has been so productive this winter was still abuzz with little brown jobs – c. 50-60 Corn Buntings, with smaller numbers of Skylarks, Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings and Linnets. Difficult to be sure of the numbers, with small groups rising and dropping and coming in and out of the area all the time.

Watching over proceedings, a minimum of 23 Magpies included around half of that total in one small bush.

At the river, a Kingfisher dashed from one of the ditches, there were good numbers of Snipe feeding in the wetter flashes, and a male Sparrowhawk sneaked through.

Coming back along the track, a flustered group of several dozen Lapwing gave away the fact that a Peregrine was hunting again, this time harried by a much smaller falcon – a male Merlin, which then settled briefly on a succession of bushes before heading off towards Southease.

A male Stonechat, a confiding Little Egret and plenty more buntings and thrushes rounded off the aternoon.

With large numbers of Starlings, Woodpigeons and assorted gulls, this section of the Ouse valley is alive with birds.

(Charlie Peverett and Paul Stevens)

Newhaven – Piddinghoe 14th Jan

A Common Sandpiper on the riverbank at Piddinghoe, Eight Corn Buntings on bushes nearby and a Grey Wagtail prospecting around a puddle on the lower path. High up on a pylon over towards Tarring Neville a pair of Ravens enjoying the afternoon sunshine.