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15th November - West Rise Marsh

Excellent day at West Rise with great views of 2 SHORT-


which suddenly appeared on the water out of nowhere, and

swam around for a few minutes before taking off towards














22nd August  -  West Rise Marsh

A GRASSHOPPER WARBLER flushed from the long grasses by the beehives early this morning. Just single GADWALL and SHOVELAR were on the lake amongst a smattering of TUFTED DUCKS. A distant pair of RAVENS sat on their favourite pylon, and over the lake was a dashing HOBBY and a KINGFISHER skimming low.


19th August  -  Hampden Park

My first ever PIED FLYCATCHER in the park today. The recent WILLOW WARBLERS appear to have moved on.


13th August  -  Hampden Park

A SPOTTED FLYCATCHER high up in the canopy this afternoon.


12th August  -  West Rise Marsh

2 WHINCHATS and 2 WHEATEARS hanging around together up near the buffalo shed this afternoon.



9th August  -  Hampden Park






There's been no sign of any EGRETS or HERONS these past few days but a couple of recent new arrivals were there again this morning - 3 SHOVELARS and a MANDARIN DUCK. There was a notable fall of WILLOW WARBLERS recently and there were around 8 of them again on site today, luvely birds...



3rd August  -  Hampden Park





Record shot here of a SAND MARTIN this morning, one of two much-awaited patch ticks. The other was a fine LESSER WHITETHROAT, creeping about in the same set of bushes as another GARDEN WARBLER and WHITETHROAT.


A REED WARBLER continues to sing, in contrast to BLACKCAPS and

FIRECRESTS which have suddenly gone silent. I suspect that the firecrests

are probably busy with a second brood?




2nd July  -  Hampden Park




31st July  -  Hampden Park

Absolutely terrible weather at the mo with grey skies, heavy drizzly rain and wind: I thought this boded well for an early-morning seawatch at Birling but I turned back halfway there as soon as I hit fog over the downs, deciding instead on a brief stop at Hampden. This was a fortuitous move since it turned up my first ever SEDGE WARBLER there, scrabbling about in the same bush as a scarce WILLOW WARBLER, so things are moving for sure. 


There were two MANDARIN DUCKS on the edge of the lake. 


26th July  -  Hampden Park



Incredible early morning session with 46 species recorded before breakfast, an all-time record ! These included 3 patch ticks no less, all of them ducks flying overhead - a SHOVELAR, 2 GADWALL and 3 POCHARD. 


REED WARBLERS are clearly feeding young, and at least one FIRECREST continues to sing.



22nd July  -  Beachy Head


Quite quiet and uneventful this morning around the Hollow and      

Cow Gap, although this excellent GRASSHOPPER WARBLER

showed well briefly, the first I've seen in a long time. 


PEREGRINES would appear to have bred successfully on the

cliffs - there were 3 up in the air together at times. 







18th July  -  West Rise Marsh

A nice walk around early doors - the wind has suddenly died and the lake was as still as a mill pond. Just a handful of gulls was out there on the water but the reedbeds were alive with swarms of restless SAND MARTINS, at least 450 I'd say. Distant calls of a REDSHANK became louder and louder, the bird eventually appearing low over the lake, looking in vain for a patch of mud to land on. 



14th July  -  West Rise Marsh


A couple more YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS again today

(after a couple of blank days).


Frustratingly a LITTLE RINGED PLOVER could be heard calling

up there somewhere, but it remained invisible.














10th July  -  West Rise Marsh




A really good smattering of gulls on the lake this afternnon included a few BLACK-HEADED (the first in a long while), at least 2 MEDITERRANEAN and 3 YELLOW-LEGGEDS. 


BEARDED TITS were heard again pinging from the reeds.






29th June  -  West Rise Marsh


Some great BEARDED TIT action this afternoon - at least

4 birds near the entrance gate.


Unsurprisingly there was little else, and it actually seems

like a few species have suddenly just disappeared from the

place...raptors and JACKDAWS for example. 








26th June  -  West Rise Marsh





No great birds of note today at the marsh although there was a fine LESSER WHITETHROAT at the entrance gate. I managed to see my first NORFOLK HAWKER dragonfly here (which had some disputes with a BLUE EMPEROR close by).


6th June  -  Hampden Park



I've been thinking these past couple of weeks that surely FIRECRESTS must be breeding here - there's been at least one singing male every day and the habitat looks perfect with huge oaks interspersed with the odd conifer. And this morning I finally found these 6 little cuties all lined up along a branch, yis!








31st May  -  Hampden Park



Another incredibly early start this morning down the park. The effort paid off with the finding of these two little fellows, my first ever view of a baby  TAWNY OWL !


At least one FIRECREST continues to sing in the woodland, and the REED  WARBLER (probably an unpaired male) was roaming and singing all  around the pond.










30th May  -  West Rise Marsh






Extraordinary scenes in the late afternoon at West Rise ! I was at the edge of the field just north of the buffalo shed, wondering why the Hell I was bothering traipsing around this birdless place in this blasted annoying wind, when all of a sudden a chunky-looking thing flashed up and onto the edge of a nearby bush - a bloomin' ISABELLINE SHRIKE I thought immediately!! I scrambled a few photos and put the news out with a couple of Whatsapps. Just a few moments later I received a call to say that some had already identified it as rather a TURKESTAN SHRIKE, a first for Sussex and only the ninth for the UK...whoopee!! 


25th May  -  Hampden Park

Another patch tick early doors in the park, this time a pair

of COMMON SANDPIPERS milling around the edges of the

island before any dogs and people arrived. 


Apart from this, just the usual suspects. At least one singing

FIRECREST was in the woodland again, but there was no sign

today of the REED WARBLER which has been discreetly

present for quite a while now...








24th May  -  Hampden Park

Fantastic start to the day with this super TAWNY OWL

found the very early morning:- the poor fellow had been

spotted by pesky JACKDAWS, MAGPIES and BLACKBIRDS,

which flushed it up on view for several minutes.


Another good bird today was a low flyover HOBBY,

another patch tick !







23rd May  -  Beachy Head

Did a skywatch for a couple of hours in the early afternoon but, once again alas, not a sausage migrating in over the sea. This disappointment was more than made up for later though when, trundling back along the South Downs Way towards Eastbourne, I heard a short blast of WOOD WARBLER song coming from the nearby tree canopy - this is now a great bird for Sussex with only a handful of records each year ! The bird gave only  occasional bursts over the next 2 hours or so, but did at least appear briefly for a few precious seconds.



11th May  -  West Rise Marsh

Not a great deal on site today although there was plenty flying overhead - a nice group of 4 RED KITES, a migrating HOBBY and a WHITE STORK.



9th May  -  West Rise Marsh



This CATTLE EGRET was seen on site this morning but almost immediately flew off, miles away, in the close company of a LITTLE EGRET. There were large numbers of hirundines, particularly SWALLOWS, hawking low over the main lake and a couple of YELLOW WAGTAILS (along with a WHITE WAGTAIL) were in the adjacent fields.






Interestingly one of the aforementioned YELLOW WAGS, evidently a male, appears to be the infamous "Channel Wagtail" intergrade (photos below)...














8th May  -  West Rise Marsh


Although I did hear the odd distant "ping" in April I've been unsure

about whether the BEARDED TITS are really here breeding this year,  so it was great to stumble across a pair today, the male bird carrying  food.


Not a lot else apart from a PEREGRINE and a good gathering of GULLS  and HIRUNDINES on the main lake. A WATER RAIL was heard.









4th May  -  Beachy Head



An excellent seawatch this morning with the two Richards, Laurence and Chris - it was one of those rare "Pom Days" with 17 POMARINE SKUAS going east before 10am, including this fabulous close group of 8 birds.


4 summer-plumaged GREY PLOVERS went through along with small numbers of other waders (BARWITS, SANDERLINGS, WHIMBREL and a RINGED PLOVER). Small numbers of SWALLOWS were coming in off the sea. 





27th April  -  Beachy Head



Great morning's seawatch from Birling Gap in the company of Richard and Laurence. Above are record shots of one of the ARCTIC SKUAS and 3 of the BLACK-THROATED DIVERS which went east during the early morning. One flock of COMMON SCOTER had at least 10 VELVETS in amongst them and there was a good passage of WHIMBREL and BAR-TAILED GODWIT. A single MANX SHEARWATER was a surprise.


The highlight, though, was the incredible sight of 3 high-flying DIVERS which turned out to be one of each species !!! 


Nothing of note later in the day east of the Head, although a fine male BLACK REDSTART was singing from the big rocks on the beach.  


27th April  -  Hampden Park

Flying over the garden in the early hours this morning, between 2-4 AM, a WHIMBREL, a superb LITTLE RINGED PLOVER and a BARN OWL.



21st April  -  West Rise Marsh

Nice and sunny afternoon with none of that blasted wind for once. BEARDED TITS were heard once again and a superb flock of 20 YELLOW WAGTAILS was in a grassy field.





20th April  -  West Rise Marsh

Another very windy day. A good day at West Rise with a

corking WATER PIPIT in summer plumage behind the buffalo

shed, although a pair of territory-holding MEADOW PIPITS

were much displeased and kept chasing it off.


Gulls were gathering not far away from here on the other

side of the Langney Sewer and some scoping produced

this fine CASPIAN GULL.










17th April  -  West Rise Marsh



A pretty good day's birding down the marsh in fine sunny weather, though it started badly by dipping out on a pair of AVOCETS that had been in amongst the gulls on the main lake for about 45 minutes before I arrived - damm and blast ! 


But BEARDED TITS were heard later pinging at the Lottbridge Drove pool, which bodes well for breeding I guess, and a WATER PIPIT was still on site. Highlight was my first on-the-deck REDSHANK which landed in a flooded field with 3 GREEN SANDPIPERS. 


Great views were had of a STOCK DOVE (not very common here) and a couple of WHEATEARS near the buffalo shed. 













14th April  - West Rise Marsh

Singing SEDGE and REED WARBLERS this morning, and SWALLOWS were milling low over the lake with a few HOUSE MARTINS and a single SAND MARTIN.




13th April  -  Beachy Head





Very quiet again today with no signs of summer migrants pouring

in, although I did manage to get my first WHEATEAR of the year at

the top of the hollow, and what a fine-looking fellow he was.


Had an uneventful skywatch at midday since the sky was blue

with dotted clouds - still far too windy methinks for any raptor action.
















27th March  -  West Rise Marsh



A sunny day with no wind, at last! Although ducks were notably thin

on the ground a single SHELDUCK dropped in briefly and this superb

pair of GARGANEY appeared late morning on the main lake. 


A lonely-looking ROOK (surprisingly scarce here I find) was migrating

high to the northeast and it was great to find BEARDED TITS

once again after a few blank visits - 50 species on the day-list.








25th March  -  Hampden Park



Spring definately in the air this morning with a bonded pair of BLACKCAPS, a MALLARD parading ducklings and 3 LITTLE EGRETS in courtship behaviour, all clambering noisily around the branches amongst disinterested HERONS dozing in their nests.


A flyover PEREGRINE was a nice surprise and 3 MANDARIN DUCKS flew a few circuits around the pond but didn't land. 3 SISKINS were feeding in the alders.















21st March  -  West Rise Marsh















I didn't bother checking my phone before leaving for West Rise this morning so when I greeted Richard in the car park I had no idea that 3 ALPINE SWIFTS !!! had been seen there an hour or so previously. He hadn't seen the birds and whilst we were wondering about how far away they must have been by now I suddenly noticed a swift flying around over the housing estate! We quickly realised that all 3 birds were back and they were to stay all day in the area, coming much lower down over the car park in the late afternoon. Yis !



In between the swift-watching sessions I did a couple of laps around

the marsh: ducks were down in numbers with no SHOVELARS or

GADWALL, and there was just a handful of WIGEON. The first

SWALLOW of the year flashed past and this smart-looking WHITE

WAGTAIL was in amongst the usual flighty flock of PIEDS.








16th March  -  Beachy Head

Most of the day spent on the western side of the Head, starting with an agreable seawatch at Birling Gap in the company of Laurence and the two Richards. It was another great goose morning with lots more BRENT GEESE streaming past (some being accompanied by a CURLEW hitching a ride on the slipstream) and a fine group of GREYLAGS. 



There were a few DUCKS on show also - a few COMMON SCOTERS and single SHELDUCK and EIDER, but the  highlight today was a pair of BLACK-THROATED DIVERS flying east, fairly close offshore.


Seawatching was followed by a fairly birdless walk along the cliffs, amongst singing SKYLARKS and MEADOW PIPITS. Spring is in the air...





15th March  -  West Rise Marsh

Quite a good day list today but nothing out of the ordinary apart from a WHITE WAGTAIL amongst the PIEDS.





13th March  -  Beachy Head



Took a chance at seawatching early this morning at Birling Gap in the hope that BRENT GEESE might be moving, and they certainly were: 1508 were counted before 11am, some appearing in huge skeins high overhead which slowly shifted and sprawled out to sea before checking back to follow the line of the cliffs.


Apart from flickering white lines of smaller GULLS, low over the sea, there was nothing much else migrating east -  most birds probably knew better than to battle with such a strong southwesterly wind.





10th March  -  West Rise Marsh




Most of the day spent down the marsh in spite of a terribly annoying gale-force, freezing cold wind. Amongst all the gulls on the water were a few adult MEDITERRANEANS, 3 COMMONS and a CASPIAN. The first CHIFFCHAFF of the spring was at the entrance gate.






8th March  -  West Rise Marsh

2 items of interest flying around today - a BLACK SWAN and a CURLEW.



3rd March  -  West Rise Marsh



Another cold and windy day down the marsh. Great views of some BEARDED TITS again and there were lots of GULLS on the choppy lake, including these CASPIAN and YELLOW-LEGGED.







1st March  -  West Rise Marsh



No sign again of any WATER PIPITS today although some nice views

of BEARDED TITS at the Lottbridge Drove pool.



This agentatus HERRING GULL was in amongst the gulls.












27th February  -  West Rise Marsh

Great sighting of a MERLIN today (a patch tick)...the bird raced low over the lake and swooped up to land briefly on a bush on the other side.





20th February  -  West Rise Marsh



Excellent day at West Rise, really grilling the two PENDULINE TITS which are being seen of late...I reckon the left hand bird is the same one I saw at the end of last year. The birds hung around at the pagoda for a good 90 minutes before quietly disappearing, presumably moving back into the phragmites behind the reed mace.


The pair of PINTAIL was still there today and there were 3 BUZZARDS and a MARSH HARRIER. No sign of any PIPITS today (neither Water nor Meadow).






18th February  -  Hampden Park



Good numbers of BLACK-HEADED GULLS were on the duckpond this morning and it was great to find once again the white bird there amongst them. Also in the mix was a superb adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL, a "patch tick" !





17th February  -  West Rise Marsh






More fruitless searches for the elusive PENDULINE TITS today, but  great to see 3 PEREGRINES dashing at FERAL PIGEONS over the marsh and hunting together as a team. 
























8th February  -  West Rise Marsh


Excellent patch-tick today with this BLACK-NECKED GREBE,

found by Jack in the early morning. 









6th February  -  West Rise Marsh



Another good day at the marsh - sunny with no wind. Stupendous close views of a party of BEARDIES on the Lottbridge Drove pool, and a GREAT CRESTED GREBE had a good grapple with a big fish. There was another CASPIAN GULL on show, but not a single raptor today. 






4th February  -  Hampden Park






This incredible-looking, pure-white BLACK-HEADED GULL was

swimming around with his mates on the duckpond this morning.

More brilliant views of the wintering WATER RAIL as well - what

a top bird that is!












3rd February  -  West Rise Marsh



Another good gull-day down at the marsh - 3 CASPIANS on show along with YELLOW-LEGGED and at least one argentatus. Excellent views also of this WATER PIPIT.





1st February  -  West Rise Marsh



Another cold and windy day: lots of GULLS gathering on the lake although I've no idea where all the LESSER BLACK BACKS have gone - I couldn't see any today. There were however a couple of CASPIAN GULLS and YELLOW-LEGGEDS amongst all the HERRINGS.






30th January  -  West Rise Marsh



A pleasant day down on the marsh with 51 for the day-list. Nothing out of the ordinary but good views of a PEREGRINE and a small group of BEARDED TITS at the Lottbridge Drove pool.






28th January  -  Hampden Park





A couple of hours wandering around the park this afternoon: the BUZZARD

was there again and a LITTLE EGRET was perched on the edge of the pond. 


Corking views of the wintering WATER RAIL running along its favourite

stretch of stream...











11th January  -  West Rise Marsh

Today I was at the famous "pagoda" area again, where folks come and stand and wait for ages, knee-deep in cold water, waiting for the PENDULINE TITS to show, which they almost never do. I keep on going there (like I did today) and always draw a blank. Today was another day full of that infernal wind, although it was at least sunny with no rain until the early afternoon. The highlight was getting some decent views for once of one of the WATER PIPITS that hang out near the Sevenoaks Road.





9th January  -  West Rise Marsh



A good day at West Rise, windy but sunny and no rain for once. Had a patch tick on arrival with a flyover KITTIWAKE and there were good views of a group of BEARDED TITS feeding on the mud and a DARTFORD WARBLER. Met Jack in the late afternoon who had seen a PENDULINE TIT earlier in the day, so good to hear that they are still about.





6th January  -  West Rise Marsh




Decided to have another bash for the PENDULINE TITS today but it was

negative yet again, they may well have gone. The water levels have gone

quite a bit but my trusty new waders proved essential for wandering the

edges of the waterlogged fields. 


Quite a large loose flock of MEADOW PIPITS was on site and there

were more TUFTED DUCKS than normal today. Just got one brief

view of a BEARDED TIT, and this MARSH HARRIER was circling.








2nd January  -  Sovereign Harbour




A casual stroll down towards the harbour today ended up being a pretty mind-blowing start to the new year with the discovery of this LITTLE SWIFT !!! The bird winnowed high overhead towards the harbour in the late morning and was to show on and off in the area for 55 minutes or so before disappearing as a speck eastwards over the buildings and along the coast. Amazingly it’s a first for Sussex to boot…Happy New Year !!!

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