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.

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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.

Caburn Raven and Glynde White-fronts

A walk between Lewes and Glynde today was almost birdless, but a Raven acrobatically outmanoeuvring the local Jackdaws was good.

On Glynde Levels, six White-fronted Geese were reported (Alan Kitson, SOS site) – presumably an augmented version of the party of five seen there and at Arlington Reservoir sporadically over the past three weeks.

Grey geese influx

Three Tundra Bean Geese on Lewes Brooks (in an area with no public access) yesterday and today, five White-fronted Geese seen on Glynde Levels today, and two juv White-fronts reported amongst a mixed group of geese reported in the lower Cuckmere (all via SOS).

Elsewhere, an Eider at Arlington Reservoir on Boxing Day (see photo on SOS site) and the Bearded Tits still at the Ouse Estuary Project (along with a ringtail Hen Harrier).