Lewes Brooks and Swanborough

The footpath between Iford and Lewes isn’t one I’m familiar with, so with the nearby RSPB reserve looking productively soggy I thought it was time for a visit.

View over Lewes Brooks from Swanborough

There are decent views (if not smells) from the path where it runs behind the sewage treatment works at Swanborough. From here most of the flood can be scanned.

There wasn’t actually much on it today, but as one of the only serially wet bits of the Ouse Valley, it’s only a matter of time. In the surrounding pasture there were 30+ Lapwings and a brief Peregrine overhead.

Around the (mainly frozen) fishing lakes in between the path and the brooks, quite a lot seen or heard: 1-2 Cetti’s Warblers, Water Rail, 2 Wigeon, 2 Teal, 45 Mallard and a Snipe.

A constant chuckling soundtrack was provided by a couple of hundred Fieldfares in the trees, while on the sewage works there were 10 Moorhens and singles each of Pied and Grey Wagtail – the latter hitching a ride one of the rotating arms.

A quick look at Firle Beacon on the way the home was worth it for the drive up to the top. Around 25-30 Chaffinches were feeding on the road, joined by a male Reed Bunting and 2+ Yellowhammers. The Bramblings seen two weeks ago in nearby game cover didn’t appear, but could well do with a longer look.

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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]

Goosanders at Arlington Reservoir

Two redhead Goosanders again at Arlington Reservoir yesterday morning (Chris Barfield, SOS sightings).

I couldn’t find them between 9.30 and 11am today – just four Tufted Duck, around 20+ Wigeon, half-a-dozen Teal, a few Yellowhammers, one Reed Bunting and a female Bullfinch.

Snipe + buntings at Alciston

DSC00699A late-afternoon visit to my old patch at Alciston made me happy – in the tiny reedbed I used to keep an eye on, a single Common Snipe, at least a dozen Reed Buntings going to roost, and half a dozen Yellowhammers in the nearby hedgerows (with perhaps twice that number in surrounding fields). Good to see that it’s still, in relative terms, a prime spot.

Elsewhere around the fields to the east of the village, quite a few Common Gulls, plenty of Pheasants, and not much else.

On The Street, near where it meets the Old Coach Road, our car disturbed a Sparrowhawk which had been busy disembowelling a Woodpigeon.

Migrants at Alciston

A brief wander up to my favourite piece of the escarpment at Alciston revealed:

Swallow 2
Yellowhammer 4+
Lesser Redpoll 1
Chiffchaff 2+
Blackbird c. 12
Song Thrush c. 8
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Common + BH Gull c.200

The concentration of thrushes, many of which were flighty and vocal, seemed to indicate migrants rather than local birds.

Several moths and butterflies active, including a Red Admiral.

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)

Rodmell Brooks

I found this Buzzard sat out in a field and then perched in adjacent tree near Southease as I headed along the C7 towards Rodmell.
Two Water Rail and a Kingfisher seen in the brook alongside the path, a Buzzard was perched on a bush top looking back towards the village a Sparrowhawk on a fence post also in this area, the stubble fields and adjoining bushes were alive with Corn & Reed Buntings, Yellowhammers and Skylarks with probably more than 50 of each on show.pict0001-3