July and early August round-up

Common Blue butterflies in Firle, by Mary Berridge

Common Blues in Firle, by Mary Berridge

So, everything went quiet after the Red-footed Falcon, but things have started to move again.

Among the commoner migrant warblers noted at Seaford Head in recent days there have been several Grasshopper Warblers and Nightingales , and today the first Pied Flycatcher of the season.

A Black Redstart at High and Over on 31 July preceded one at Firle two days later – an unusual time of year for this species, recalling an early-autumn record at Alciston a few years back.

At Arlington Reservoir, Jacob Everitt has turned up some good waders, including 2 Black-tailed Godwits on 22nd,  and Little Ringed Plover (juv) and 9 Common Sandpipers on 29th.

The Red Kite (kites?) continues to be seen, with luck, mainly along the escarpment between the lower Cuckmere and Firle. Hobbies have been typically low-profile, but continue to be seen occasionally. And a strange-looking Kestrel photographed at Malling appears to be leucistic – resembling a small, pale harrier (see The Lyons Den for a picture)

Meanwhile Pearl-bordered Fritillaries had their best recorded year of recent times at Abbott’s Wood, with over 250 recorded.

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).

Alpine Swift etc – Weekend roundup

A rush of activity around the Ouse this weekend, worthy of a roundup.

Highlight was the ALPINE SWIFT seen at Rodmell this morning – the first locally since the twitchable Lewes bird two years ago.

Also reported today from Lewes Brooks: two White Wagtails (Andrew and Ian Whitcomb), two Med Gulls, a pair of Garganey and a Wheatear (Alan Kitson, SOS sightings).

Viewing screen at the OEP

At the Ouse Estuary project yesterday, a GLAUCOUS GULL, five Med Gulls and two drake Garganey (How many seen in the Ouse Valley already this spring? Six? Ten?). Today at least two Med Gulls still there, as well as my earliest ever Common Tern*, at least seven Chiffchaffs and a Cetti’s Warbler. Good to see the water levels here looking wildlife-friendly (for years it looked like someone had forgotten to put the plug in).

Wheatears were seen widely, including several at Tidemills and ten on Seaford Head, where there was also a Black Redstart reported (Derek Barber & Tracey Lambert, SOS sightings). Movement offshore has also livened up, with plenty of Brent Geese yesterday from Splash Point, amongst other birds (see Liam Curson’s report for more detail).

Meanwhile a Firecrest by the cricket field in Firle yesterday was my first in the village for three years, and a day in advance of the first singing Chiffchaffs.

Bring on the rest of Spring.

* it seems this is the joint earliest Common Tern ever recorded in Sussex [see Liam’s comment and link]

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.

Red Kite, White-fronts

A Red Kite seen over Southease and Beddingham today (the same as seen at Firle yesterday?) , also two White-fronted Geese on Lewes Brooks (Alan Kitson, SOS sightings).

The Common Crane still around Piddinghoe and Southease, seen by many observers today.

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.