A morning around the Ouse and the Cuckmere

An excellent few hours around the Cuckmere and the Ouse with Paul Stevens this morning.

It didn’t start well – we drew a blank on Waxwings at Lewes Tesco – but the Brooks at Iford were busier. On the flood as viewed from Swanborough we could see hundreds of Lapwing and Wigeon, with a few Gadwall and the odd Shoveler. A couple walking their dog very close to the flood flushed many of the birds, including a dozen or so small waders (presumably Dunlin) and four probable Black-tailed Godwits, seen just too briefly for me to be 100%. A Water Rail squealed from one of the fishing lakes, and there was a Grey Wagtail on the treatment works.

From there to Piddinghoe, where a walk along the river produced the redhead GOOSANDER, two Little Grebes and a neat Grey Plover – not a bird I recall ever having seen along the Ouse before. A male BEARDED TIT crossed the river and dropped into the reeds at Piddinghoe Pond, finally giving great close views.

The Ouse Estuary Project was (again) bereft of Waxwings, so we quickly shifted to the Golden Galleon at Exceat, where the WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were feeding just north of the bridge – we counted 65 (some ten down on yesterday’s report) with the Canadas, Wigeon and Curlew.

South of the bridge there was a great selection of duck on the meanders, including a pair of GOLDENEYE, 3 male PINTAIL and four Pochard. A brief scan of the marshes on the west side revealed plenty of large gulls and Shelduck, but no Barnacle Geese.

Having dipped WAXWING twice already during the morning, we dropped in on Vale Close, Seaford and found an obliging and apparently fearless bird tucking into the apples; it was also being enjoyed by several photographers and some intrigued local residents.

A brief stop at Litlington Bridge just north of Alfriston produced three more Little Grebes and a couple of Kestrels but not much else, so we called it a day, having clocked a respectable-for-this-bit-of-Sussex total of 60 species.


Arlington Res.

Thanks to Bob Eade`s post on SOS sightings page regarding drake Goldeneye at Arlington Reservoir a couple of days ago prompted me to make an early morning visit today and fortunately one bird was still present and feeding close in to the dam at times, using the move when it dived approach  I was able to get  some pleasing  images.

Ducks around the Cuckmere

It’s all about ducks at the moment. Three Goosander (male and two females) were at Arlington Reservoir again today, with a couple of Gadwall and nine Pintail among the usual Wigeon there (Paul James, Liam Curson et al, per SOS sightings).

Meanwhile the female Scaup still on a pond beside the lower Cuckmere today, just south of the Golden Galleon, and the two drake Goldeneye were last reported on the river itself on Thursday.

A count of 60 Snipe at Alfriston yesterday (Matt Eade) was notable, as was the lingering male Black Redstart today at Seaford Primary School (Liam Curson, both per SOS).

In Firle Park today, a season’s high count of 180 Common Gulls, with similar numbers of Black-headed.

Goosander at Arlington

Two redhead Goosander reported from Arlington Reservoir today “from the hide early afternoon” (via Birdguides). Four were seen there on 10th January.

Sunset over South Downs, as viewsed from Chapel Cross

Continuing the sawbill theme, there have been two drake Goldeneye on the River Cuckmere, around Exceat, in recent days.

Around Firle, birds seem to be getting back to normal – no Snipe in the park since Wednesday, and quite a few resident birds singing again. In the nature reserve/cricket pitch area, at least one Goldcrest and two Treecreepers appear to have survived the worst, with plenty of Great and Blue Tits singing this morning, plus Nuthatch, Mistle Thrush and Green Woodpecker heard.


Two Short-eared Owls at the Ouse Estuary Project, Newhaven yesterday afternoon. (Peter Wilson, per SOS sightings).

Also recently, up to four Goldeneye at Arlington Reservoir (along with double figures of Wigeon and Shoveler) and a (presumed escape) Swan Goose on Lewes Brooks.

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.