Sunday, January 30, 2011

Missing Hen Harrier

Having finished a litter-pick on Telscombe Tye and on such a beautiful sunny day, I headed over to Pulborough in hope of seeing the Hen Harrier that had been around for a few days.  Needless to say - it hadn't been seen for a couple of days and didn't put in an appearance.

Arrived in time to collect up a slab of bread pudding and headed out to the hides.  Several snipe feeding along the edge of the well flooded and partially ice covered pond at West Mead and sightings of the white-fronted geese in the distance feeding with two flocks of canada geese.

There were also several fieldfare on the ground around the hide, close enough for lovely views.  Plenty of wigeon feeding out on the grass and teal on the water and a distant sighting of the peregrine - unusually just sitting on the grass.

Quite a few visitors in the hide today - drawn out by the weather perhaps.  I chatted with a couple who lived in Pulborough but had never visited the reserve.  Such is the way - you rarely visit the sights on your own doorstep.

Bullfinch at Pennington FlashImage via WikipediaJust outside Winpenny was a small flock on bullfinches - three males and one female.  Lovely bright pink chests with their black caps.

On to the Hanger, Jupps and Nettley where there were plenty of duck out on the water.  More wigeon, teal and plenty of pintail, shoveler and shelduck.  Hundreds of black-tailed godwit, again out in the distance - many more than I've seen before - my (very) rough count was about 130.

After a while several dunlin were spotted.  The birds seemed to be as far away from the hides as possible, so scopes were definitely needed today.

Several of the godwit had coloured leg rings, which were slightly easier to see once they'd flown closer but take some recording - especially when they're wading.  There are two different coloured rings on each leg and as I discovered, rings on their lower legs (below the knee) are intentional and haven't just slipped!

Although the hen harrier didn't put in an appearance, the peregrine was around as was a kestrel, a sparrowhawk scaring the pigeons and a buzzard.

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Litter Pick on Telscombe Tye

Sunny but cold and windy for today's litter pick on Telscombe Tye.  Six of us met up at Bevendean avenue at the newly and headed up the Tye with the other objective of also re-seating one of the posts that had come lose or been driven over, up on Bridleway 8.

It turned out there were three posts that needed digging back in but this didn't take long.  The rest of us walked up the Tye and then back down to the coast road picking up litter.  You can tell when we get closer to civilisation as the amount of dog mess increases - as do the dog poo bags discarded into the undergrowth - very unpleasant!  Being a sunny day there were certainly lots of dog-walkers about.

After a couple of hours we'd collected at least a dozen bags of litter - mainly discarded crisp and sweet wrappers, carrier bags that get blown and assorted bits of plastics and beer cans and bottles - mainly up near the cross dyke.

It's only half a days effort but satisfying although also annoying at how much we collect, discarded by people using the Tye.

Our next litter-picking task will probably be along the coast road - tackling the corner near the Badger's Watch which is where litter discarded by passing traffic ends up.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2011 Results

This year's sightings for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch:

Blue Tit 3
Great Tit 2
Chaffinch 1
Sparrow 4
Robin 1
Blackbird 2
Dunnock 1
Collared Dove 1
Wood Pigeon 1
Greenfinch 1

2 cats!

Total species (not including cats) 10 out of a possible 26.

Usual suspects that didn't put in an appearance in the allotted hour but did appear later in the day - starling and goldfinch.
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Friday, January 28, 2011

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2011 - 29th-30th January

This weekend is the RSPB's annual Big Garden Birdwatch.  A little later in the month than usual and it's turned cold again so it might be a good weekend for birds turning up at your feeders.

Get out early tomorrow morning, top up the feeders and don't forget the bird bath.  If you've been feeding regularly over the winter you'll already have an idea of what might turn up.

Settle yourself in with a cup of tea or coffee, get the children involved and spend an hour watching what comes in to the garden.  Only count what you see within an hour.  Pick any hour over this weekend.

Use the RSPB's ID sheet or any piece of paper.  Make a note of the total number of a species you see at any one time, not the total over the hour.

If you don't have a garden - take a walk out to your local park, common or wild, open space.

Submit your results at

If you're on Twitter - use the #bgbw hashtag
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Sunday, January 09, 2011

Southease To Piddinghoe

A short walk along the river from Southease to Piddinghoe.  Three dabchick and one great crested grebe were diving on the river, moving rapidly upstream with the incoming tide.  I watched a grey wagtail for several minutes feeding from the track ahead before it flew off across the river and a little egret flew up river, being mobbed by crows.

Southease Swing Bridge
Crossing the road at Piddinghoe and walking along the track that takes the footpath on a detour away from river, up the hill and back into Piddinghoe further along the road, bypassing a short stretch of the river.  A longer route but worth the detour as I had a lovely view of a male kestrel sitting up in a tree and several red-legged partridge disappearing up the bank and in the nearby fields.  Their presence accounted for by the game bird pens all along the valley.  This is also why I've often seen partridge along this stretch of road as well as dozens of pheasant.

I made it as far as Piddinghoe Pool which had nothing on it and I missed seeing the bearded tit which has been around for a week or so.

Heading back the way I'd come, a buzzard flew over as I reached the top of Harping's Hill.  Swiftly pursued by several carrion crow it flew down over the river but was overhead again as I walked along the track back down to the road.

The tide was well in by now and only a few gulls on the river this time, a solitary redshank moving up and down the river and finally a small flock of teal circling round and a grey heron which came in to land in the fields near Southease.