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.

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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.

Black Redstart in Lewes + other recent highlights

A Black Redstart eating grapes from a vine at Castle Ditch Lane in central Lewes yesterday (Nick Ostler, via SOS).

Newhaven Harbour - still from video on Flickr by pete pick (click image to view)

At Newhaven, the number of Purple Sandpipers has built to 13 on the East pier (also a Shag there – Paul James, via SOS). Rodmell reported to be quiet, with just nine Corn Buntings and three Little Egrets – it’s often quite late in the winter before Rodmell gets the good stuff.

In Friston Forest, a couple of Firecrests with “even rarer, a single Goldcrest” seen by Bob Edgar (SOS).

Yesterday at Arlington Reservoir reports of 40 dead gulls along the northern shoreline (Tim Godby, SOS) – weather-related fatalities? – plus a couple of male Goldeneyes.

As in most places, both birds and birders probably hunkering down – but in between squalls, still one or two Lesser Redpolls around the cricket pitch at Firle, and increasing numbers of Fieldfares and Redwings around the village.

Brambling in Firle

The first Brambling of the winter seen at Firle yesterday morning, with a group of Chaffinches at Place Farm.

Walk up through the village, past the church and onto the Old Coach Road, then view the yard with the straw bales and metal barn on the left, opposite the horse paddocks and just before the track turns sharply left.

Plenty of other common bits and bobs at this spot too recently, including Grey Wagtail, Fieldfare and Little Owl.

Also Lesser Redpoll heard daily around the cricket pitch in recent mornings.

Late Osprey

A latish Osprey reported in the lower Cuckmere on Friday (23rd), by Mike Unwin (via SOS).

Today in Firle, both Swallow and Fieldfare near the Church.

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)