night-time movements of Redwing and Godwits

This is the time of year Redwings start migrating northwards, primarily at night. Despite the cloudy conditions I counted a fair few overhead last night- listen out for them, the gorgeous atmospheric calls is one of my favourite, especially in October/November when it seems like the sound of autumn to me. If you aren’t familiar with their call, the link below should be useful;

and while you’re there, listen to their song as well, sometimes you can hear it from now onwards,as birds practice for the breeding grounds they are very soon heading too. Unlike their calls, the song is a very tuneful warble, most similar to the song of the Blackcap.

Another somewhat peculiar February speciality for me is Bar-tailed Godwit. Last year many were heard passing over at this time of year, along with a few Golden Plover, Curlew, Dunlin and even a night-flying flock of Brent Goose! Last year I assumed they were relocating following the cold weather, but it’s been quite mild recently… so anyway, the single Bar-tailed Godwit I heard pass over the house at about 11:00 PM last night was quite a surprise! Perhaps they’re actually a regular February occurence, I’ll have to keep an ear out tonight as well.

a spring migrant in the Cuckmere, April 2011image of  migrant Bar-tailed Godwit, Cuckmere Haven, April 2o11

here are some recording of Bar-wit (possibly my favourite birding abbreviation) which you could take a look at.


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.

Rodmell Brooks

Late afternoon over a very cold and dreary brooks – 1 Common Buzzard sitting as usual on the telegraph poles leading northwest,60+ Corn Bunting,Yellow  Hammer,Reed Bunting,Linnet,Redwing and Stonechat around the stubble field and the male Merlin moving over the area northof the path.

Rodmell Brooks

Between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. :- plenty of Corn Bunting, Redwing, Meadow Pipits and Yellow hammer around the stubble field and in the hawthorns on the north side of the path to the river.Also around Stonechat, Common Buzzard, Little Egret, Fieldfare and a not very showy ringtailed Hen Harrier a couple of hundred metres north over the reed beds.Still no Short Eared owls.

sightings 06/12/08

G.N.Diver Great northern Diver still present this morning on the scrape in the lower Cuckmere valley.
Large numbers of both Fieldfare and Redwing in the Southease station area this afternoon feeding on the abundant hawthorn berries available,both a male and female Sparrowhawk seen here too obviously looking to feast on a thrush supper. A Common Sandpiper near the railway bridge over Glynde reach.

Mid-week SOS walk, Cuckmere Haven 11.11.08

Sixteen people joined me on the best morning for weather we have had for a bit, although there still was some strength in the south-westerly wind to say the least. This would keep most birds heads down for the whole morning but it was not quite as bad as I had expected 24 hours earlier.

It was a straightforward walk from the carpark to the sea and back on the eastern side. The birds along the way included a difficult to see Ring Ouzel that only really let itself be known when it gave out two sharp ‘taks’ when it flew off, 1 Redwing, several sightings of Kingfishers, 2 pairs of Stonechats, Kestrel, Redshank, Curlew, Greylag Goose, Tufted Duck, a flotilla of 17 Little Grebes and Little Egret.

A sea-watch was virtually impossible due to the head wind so a quick about turn and back to the carpark with the wind and light behind us which produced excellent views of a Peregrine coming towards us from the north, over our heads and then continuing still fairly high south-west.

A good morning’s walk with one or two nice birds thrown in all made even bettter by everybody’s good mood. Thirty-seven species were seen.

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.