Friday, 23 January 2015

Buntings and daffodils

Walland Marsh - cold, sunny, light airs - The perfect winters day for a mooch round the farmland tracts, where there was plenty on offer. First stop a seed dump near Brenzett which attracted a bunting fest, at least by today's standards: 20 each of Corn and Yellow, plus five Reed. Also, 10 Chaffinches and a pair of gorgeous Bullfinches. Further along the lane and over the railway line I was astonished to see a verge of nodding daffodils in full flower in the warm sunshine; what a wonderful sight and a gentle reminder that spring is not too far away.

                                A welcome splash of colour

Onwards to Midley and decent numbers of thrushes along the verges and on sheep folds, mainly Blackbirds and Song Thrushes, but also a fair few Mistle Thrushes, Fieldfares, plus two Jays.
Marsh Harriers, Common Buzzards, Kestrels and a Merlin were all duly logged on the walk out near the wind farm where a large flock of grey geese contained 30 White-fronts. Thousands of Lapwing, Goldies, corvids, Woodpigeons and Starlings comprised the bulk numbers along with more thrushes, 100 Linnets, 50 Chaffinches and lesser numbers of Mipits, Skylarks, 10 Corn Buntings, five Snipe and three Stonechats.
The usual Tree Sparrows were on the Midley feeders and drying barn dump, but the wild swans were in a slightly different position at Horse Bones Farm, being further west and bit more distant, although earlier in the day they were closer to the road. A Little Owl posed briefly near a Lydd chicken shed, plus more Lapwings, 100 Curlews and 10 Corn Buntings in a flooded turf field. Checked out the `Cattle Egret` paddock where there was no sign of either birds or beasts, but a Grey Lag flock further down Dengemarsh Road attracted two Tundra Bean Geese.

                                Curlews, Lydd

                                Little Owl, Lydd

Towers/ARC Pits -  After a spot of lunch, and picking up Barney, we headed back out for a wander up to pines and and over towards airport pits, which was fairly fruitless apart from a flock of Long-tailed Tits and a couple of flushed Snipe. Back at Screen hide things picked up though with regular flight views of several Bitterns during a 90 minute watch along with three Great White Egrets, five Marsh Harriers, Cetti`s Warbler and Chiffchaff.

                                Bittern, ARC

Friday Summary: Apparently, the two Cattle Egrets spent the day out on Dengemarsh, but did return to the Wraxalls paddock at dusk to roost. At Scotney the three Black-necked Grebes were at the farm entrance end and the 1st winter Scaup in Sussex. At Nickoll`s Quarry, Hythe the 1st winter Night Heron was still present; view from the green trailer on the public footpath in the north-west corner of site. 
On the RSPB reserve up ten Smew (including a drake) were on Burrowes lake with Scott hide being the best viewing position; unfortunately, that means driving down the one mile access road to the visitor centre (and back) which is in a very bad state of disrepair with deep pot-holes throughout. The Society have got plans to repair it, `when the weather improves`. So, if you are planning a visit this weekend, and are fit and able, the best bet is to park in the ARC car park and do the four mile circular walk. However, four wheel drive vehicles and tanks should easily take the track in their stride!
Good birding.

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