We spent the weekend at our Kate`s, based at Littlehampton in West Sussex, researching for forthcoming articles in Birdwatching magazine. Climping Gap, Arundel WWT and Pulborough Brooks RSPB reserve were all visited with most attention paid to the latter site, where thanks are due to two local birders, Geoff and Dave, for providing a wealth of insider information.
For those unfamiliar with Pulborough Brooks it is primarily an inland wetland site set in the Arun valley flood plain with extensive grazing marshes, drainage ditches and wet meadows. There are four hides and three viewpoints (one of which overlooks the South Downs) along the two mile circular route, plus a superb visitor centre and café set in a converted barn. An adjacent heath and woodland on the High Weald complements the habitat range along with ponds, scrub, weedy fields and hedgerows. The reserve was only acquired in 1989 so all the buildings and hides still have a newish feel.
At this time of year the main attraction is wildfowl with good numbers of feral geese, Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall and Shoveler present, plus a sprinkling of Shelduck and Pintail. Large flocks of Lapwing were kept on the move by a couple of Perergrines, while Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Marsh Harrier were all noted. Other waders included 50 Black-wit, 10 Snipe, two Dunlin and a surprise Pectoral Sandpiper from West Mead hide, which was easily the best spot on the reserve for close views of wildfowl and waders. A telescope is essential here, by the way, for scanning the valley fields.
I also noted Stonechat, Kingfisher, Little Egret, Barn Owl, a distant Red Kite and finished up on the heath overlooking a wooded valley in the vain hope of jamming in one of the many Hawfinches that have been reported across southern England of late. Needless to say I drew a blank on that one, but did have good views of a Tawny Owl gliding across a clearing.
So, a successful weekend then, that was nicely rounded off by seeing Billy Bragg at Bexhill-on-Sea on the way home last night. The Bard of Barking was on top form ranting and railing about everything from Brexit to climate change, in between delivering a mix of old and new songs including, Pat`s favourite, `The man in the iron mask`.
Driving past Scotney just after midnight and a Barn Owl flew over the road.
Monday - cold and sunny, light airs - Lade - Back on a frosty local patch this morning the highlights were two Goldeneyes, a Pintail and six Great White Egrets on south lake, good views of a Cetti`s Warbler by the ponds, two Marsh Harriers and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Around the garden suntraps several Red Admirals were on the wing.
An afternoon walk around Dungeness in glorious sunshine produced a few Gannets and Sandwich Terns offshore but little else of note, while the Dotterel was again reported from Hanson hide on the bird reserve.