West Sussex - cold, cloudy, ne 4 - Pat and I decamped to Littlehampton this weekend staying at our Kate`s. I had a couple of site recces to do for forthcoming articles; while we also managed to squeeze in a comedy gig at Bognor on Friday night where we were entertained by the hilarious Mark Steel who`s currently on a nationwide tour, and well worth seeing if he`s coming to your town this year.
Anyhow, my first port of call on Saturday was Arundel Wetland Centre situated on the banks of River Arun. Being as it was a holiday weekend it was packed out with families enjoying various activities and feeding the plastic wildfowl. However, there were one or two quiet spots where you could escape the crowds from hides overlooking scrapes and the like with breeding Lapwings, Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls and feral goslings and ducklings everywhere. Sedge Warblers, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Sand Martins were the pick of the summer migrants, plus Cetti`s Warbler, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Great Spotted Woodpecker in the woodlands. I did manage to get a brief view of a Water Vole swimming across the pool in front of the very plush visitor centre.
In the afternoon I moved to Pulborough Brooks, one of my favourite RSPB reserves, overlooking the scenic Arun Valley with adjacent heathland and views across the South Downs. Almost the first bird I heard was a singing Woodlark flying over the car park towards the heath from a prepared weedy field in front of the visitor centre, where a further five birds were noted. Around the circular route the woodlands were alive with Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, where also Goldcrest, Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch and Treecreeper noted, although the Nightingales weren`t in yet.
The wetlands held plenty of breeding Lapwings and Redshanks amongst various Grey Heron, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Little Egret, Mediterranean Gull, Buzzard, Kestrel, Snipe, Skylark, Reed Bunting and Long-tailed Tit. A walk across the heathland produced another Woodlark sighting, plus a Tree Pipit.
This morning I walked the beach at Littlehampton where plenty of Turnstones and a few Sanderlings were noted. An hour long seawatch from the pier at the mouth of the Arun produced just 10 Gannets, two Common Scoters and a Red-throated Diver; I shall never complain about a slow seawatch at Dungeness ever again!