Archive for November, 2005

30th November 2005, Wednesday

RM Canal – Pett Level

With a cold red sun coming up over frosted levels, a variety of birds were radiating out from their reedbed roosts: Greenfinches, Redpolls and Reed Buntings were all on the move and a flock of 34 Stock Doves must have been coming from the newly-denuded Castle Water (…though I did notice on that photo a single willow which has been carelessly left).
With the water level kept low, the canal is a deep and muddy gulley, where Redshank were wading in the shallows and Teal gingerly testing the skin of ice on stiller parts. About 100 Teal were feeding there altogether. On the edge of the mud were 2 Grey Wagtails and – incongruously – a Green Woodpecker dropped in for some iced water.

30th November 2005, Wednesday

Rye Harbour Sightings

The cold weather this morning concentrated good numbers of wildfowl on Castle Water, including 114 Gadwall, 100+ Wigeon, 96 Tufted Duck 45 Shoveler, 26 Teal, three Pochard and a splendid male Pintail. All of these were kept constantly on the move by an immature male Marsh Harrier which was quartering the reedbeds all morning.
On the Beach Reserve, a single Short-eared Owl was present on West Beach, while a Long-Eared Owl was roosting on the Narrow Pit. At Ternery Pool there was an obliging Water Rail in front of the Parkes Hide.
Water Rail
Water Rail swimming in front of Parkes Hide

29th November 2005, Tuesday

New View

The new view from the viewpoint at Castle Water (now that the trees have gone from the island – the single large willow in the photo is not on the island!) includes a clear view of Camber Castle. This evening the 30 Cormorants roosting by day near the hide, flew off at dusk towards Northpoint Pit, but 3 eventually roosted in the trees at Castle Water, together with 25 Little Egrets and 150 Stock Doves.
New view

29th November 2005, Tuesday

Pett Level

On Sunday, Pete Rouse reported 7 Snow Buntings on the seawall, 8 Eiders offshore and 3 Snow Geese on the fields, one of which seemd to be a hybrid.
They are still there, along with 58 Canadas, 43 Greylags and a Brent.
Last weekend’s large flock of GC Grebes seems to have moved on.

28th November 2005, Monday

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Few highlights from this morning: 3 Short Eared Owls were roosting atWest Beach. At Castle Water 2 Long Eared Owls could be found roosting, 7 Bullfinch were in the bushes near the Hide, and a Marsh Harrier flushed the Lapwings and Gulls that were roosting on the islands. 94 Tufted Duck, 28 Gadwall, 20 Teal, 17 Pochard, 15 Shoveler, 50 Wigeon, Bearded Tit, Water Rail, Cettis Warbler and Little Egret were also present at Castle Water.
Offshore a few Red Throated Divers were present along with 44 Great Crested Grebe and one Eider Duck.
The Wader Pool attracted over 100 Curlew early this morning, and at least 400 Oystercatcher were roosting along Shore Ridges.

27th November 2005, Sunday


With a cold, cold wind sweeping across the level, the small birds were keeping quiet again, apart from thrushes. Blackbirds (38) were feeding along the lanes, joined by hungry Redwings (25) in the hawthorns. A few flocks of Fieldfares (20) and a handful (4) of Mistle Thrushes were also in circulation.

The shelter and feeding stations at Doleham Halt Cottages, is attracting higher numbers of House Sparrows (20) and Starlings (35) as well as Blue Tits, Long-tailed Tits, Robins & a Nuthatch
The other focus of activity is in keep to the west of the Doleham stream, where black-faced sheep grazed turnips with at least 20 Pied Wagtails and 50 Starlings running beneath their feet. There were a couple of Meadow Pipits too and a Stonechat watching from the electric fence posts.
Further west, larger numbers of Starlings, Common Gulls, Woodpigeons and Lapwings were rising up when a Buzzard came into view.
4 more Stonechats were higher up the stream, with a rotund Little Owl watching them from the hedgerow.

Some management work has been carried out in the lower fields to hold back more water and top the Soft Rush. They are becoming more waterlogged but still attracting only a few Snipe. 10 Mallard & 12 Teal flew overhead and 3 Little Grebes were on the Brede – the only ones I’ve seen at this site this year.

26th November 2005, Saturday

Ashes Wood, Netherfield

In Darkest Sussex it is so quiet!
In spring or summer, when I pull up here and open the car door, I am enmeshed in birdsong so dense it’s a puzzle to unravel.
But now: a pause – silence – cold wind through the trees – silence – a Magpie – silence – distant gunshots – a passing car – silence – a Crow – tiny sounds: a click, a squeak…
But no rattles: no relay of Wrens through the streambed scrub…
…nothing moving in the yellow Hornbeam coppice, nor in the purple birch tops…
Maybe it’s the cold causing them to keep their heads down, but there are so few birds compared with mid-October, when the wood was busy with young & migrant Goldcrests (46 then>now 2), Robins (43>11), Wrens (37>13), Bullfinches (23>5), and Woodpigeons, Starlings and Skylarks flowed overhead.
Fieldfares (30) and Redwings (24) are new >W, and a couple of Bramblings overhead too.
Then over Beech Mill, 2 Hawfinches came circling over. It’s the first time I’ve seen them here, though I found singles at both Guestling and Sedlescombe last weekend and Robin Harris tells me he had 4 at Darwell a fortnight ago.
I thoroughly approve of all these Hawfinches; it makes the place look like France – a bit.
The main concentration of small birds (Wrens at last) was around the Beech Mill pond, where, through the feathery orange Swamp Cypresses, I could see a Dabchick, 5 Mallard, 4 Gadwall & 8 Moorhens, with 4 Teal on a nearby pond.
The Coot have left, and I have had no records at all of Tufted Duck this year, though in the past they have been quite regular.
Elsewhere though, were extended Zones de Silence – tracts where the only sounds were wintry wind in the treetops and the swish of my boots through big Red Oak leaves.

26th November 2005, Saturday

Recent sightings at RSPB Dungeness

A little quiet this week but there have been plenty of bittern sightings both in the Hooker’s pits/Denge Marsh area and near Christmas Dell. Two whooper swans in front of the Hanson ARC hide provided yesterday’s highlight. This morning a water rail was spotted from Denge Marsh hide and a short-eared owl was seen near Christmas Dell.

If you’re thinking of up-grading your optics or looking for a special Christmas present then don’t forget our binocular and telescope demo this weekend, from 10 am to 4 pm both days.

25th November 2005, Friday

Homeless Cormorants

Today we completed the removal of the trees that were the favourite roosting and nesting site for Cormorants at Castle Water. Recent observations have shown that the roosting Little Egrets have relocated to an adjacent wooded island, but the Cormorants have not, so many are “homeless”. It would be interesting to know of any sightings of Cormorants taking up new roosting habits in the Hastings to Dungeness area.
(see 15th November for explanation of this management)
Roosting Cormorants

23rd November 2005, Wednesday

Dungeness Bird Observatory

A Firecrest and 18 Goldcrests were seen in the bushes whilst 40 Goldfinches and four Redpolls flew over. Very quiet at sea with just a few Red-throated Divers feeding offshore.
David Walker from DBO website