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.

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Woodcock, Goosander, Hen Harrier

A few wintry movers in recent days: Woodcocks seen in Newhaven and Seaford, and a Snipe at Firle village (see Firle Birds).

In the Ouse Valley, a ringtail Hen Harrier and a redhead Goosander seen yesterday by Alan Kitson (per SOS).

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)

Newhaven and Lewes Brooks 14.10.08

Bit of a quiet spell in Sussex of late, but some good local fare seen by Joanne Chattaway, Sue Phillips & Alan Nottage on Tuesday:

Corn Buntings look a bit) like this

Corn Buntings look (a bit) like this

Highlights at West Beach, Newhaven were 6 Rock Pipits and a Raven.

Lewes Brooks highlights were about 10 Corn Buntings, 100+ Goldfinches, 100+ Linnets, 1 Snipe, 1 Cetti’s Warbler, a Kingfisher and David Williams.

(per SOS sightings)

Good to hear that a Cetti’s is hanging on at Lewes Brooks. They’re thinly scattered in the Ouse Valley – a cold winter and we may not have any left.

Meanwhile, Corn Buntings are perhaps easier to see at Lewes Brooks in this season than on many local downland sites.