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.

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)

Alciston 12.10.08

A warm misty morning, with the prospect of the sun burning through at any moment. In the end, it didn’t do so until the very end of our hour-long walk in Alciston.

The village street was quiet, with House Sparrows and Goldfinches most obvious, plus a ragged male Blackbird bathing noisily in a trough at the stableyard.

Up onto the Old Coach Road, we turned left towards Berwick, where the track runs deep between the hedges. As always, there were small birds here, including a singing Dunnock.

Where the hedge then disappears, suddenly the vista is wide open. Wide unploughed field margins have been established here for years, but this year there appears to be an innovation: a further wide strip of standing wheat. Through the mist, more small birds could be seen diving in and out of this promising-looking area.

A circuit of the large field, back round towards the church, revealed my first Redwing of the autumn, feeding in a favoured spot along one of the ancient hedgerows. Good numbers of Yellowhammers and Skylarks were heard all around the perimeter, with occasional Linnets and Meadow Pipits, and a solitary Kestrel.

On the field edge that leads directly back to the church, vines thick with red berries could be seen in the hedgerow – can anyone identify them for me? [*see comment below*]

Then back to the paddocks near the church, where Mistle Thrushes clattered amonst the trees, along with more discreet Goldcrests, as the low cloud finally gave way to the sun.