Archive for April, 2006

30th April 2006, Sunday

Pett Level

On a miserably cold and unexpectedly rainy morning, John Newton & I found 89 species around the level & Pannel Valley – 90 if you include Bar-headed Goose.

Interesting birds included f Marsh Harrier (probably the same one Phil Newton saw – with 2 Peregrines – yesterday at Doleham), Wigeon, Grasshopper Warbler, Turtle Dove, Lesser Whitethroat, Swift, Barn Owl, Lesser Redpoll & Kingfisher.

The Med Gulls at the Pannel Scrape were all immatures, but 2 adults flew NE along the beach with BH Gulls.

Several Sanderling were on the tideline or moving east. At Pett they usually occur out on the edge at low tide down at the Rye H end, except on migration.

A Canada Goose had goslings W of Pannel Bridge and Mistle Thrushes were feeding a  fledgling at Toot Rock.
We missed quite few common birds such as Kestrel and Redshank!

30th April 2006, Sunday

St. Mark’s Fly

Large black flies, flying with dangling legs around the flowers of Alexanders are St. Mark’s Flies. They are named after the saint’s day on 25th April, when they normally appear, so are a little late this year. The males (in first photo) have large eyes and thin abdomens, whereas the females have small eyes and large abdomens. A good place to see them is along the path to Lime Kiln Cottage at Rye Harbour.
St. Mark's Fly (male)
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30th April 2006, Sunday

Rye Harbour Sightings

This mornings count of Whimbrel in the roost at Flat Beach Quarry found 206 birds, only one more than yesterdays total! Also here were three Bar-tailed Godwit, four Little Tern and good numbers of Common Tern and Sandwich Tern. A further 19 Bar-tailed Godwit fed along the shore, while at sea a large (500+) flock of Common Scoter rested on the waves. In addition, the Nightingale could still be heard singing loudly on the Narrow Pits mid-morning.
Swallow at Castle Water
A late morning visit to Castle Water found masses of hirundines moving through. Numbers were difficult to estimate, but there were several hundred each of Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin all feeding over Castle Pit itself, as well as 50+ Swift. The scrub around the hide contained Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler, while from the hide itself a Little Ringed Plover gave good views on the islands in front.

29th April 2006, Saturday

Pett Level

2 Ravens have been around for much of the week, usually on the pasture to the W of the Pools, where they bounce around flipping over bits and pieces in the turf, pulling dead things to bits and riding on ewes’ backs. Ravens are a bit hefty however and the sheep usually waste no time in shaking them off. They often drop down into the ditches too, either to drink or – Andrew Grace suggested – to hunt for frogs.

Raven Drum Odin and Ravens

Curlews get very scarce at this time of year (ie approaching the Bird Race season), so 2 behind the Pools today were the first I’d seen for a couple of weeks. There were with 2 Whimbrel and a Bar-tailed Godwit. Another 14 multi-coloured Bartails flew in off the sea.

Yet more Zoo Time colour has been provided by pairs of Egyptian and Bar-headed Geese which have been present on and off over the last 10 days, usually loafing on the E edge of the Pools. The first Greylag goslings have been out this week.

29th April 2006, Saturday

Beckley Woods

A few hours around the woods and beautiful nearby Tillingham Valley produced 58 species including 2 Buzzards, LS Woodpecker, Hawfinch, Nightingale and singing Firecrest.

Tillingham Valley

Part of my time was spent in conducting a BTO Breeding Bird Survey. The contrast in species variety and density was marked as I passed from sectors comprising open, heavily grazed pasture to those with gardens, the latter like little bird-filled islands alive with Greenfinches, Blue Tits and even… House Sparrows. One gracious dwelling even had a singing Reed Bunting in its front garden.
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29th April 2006, Saturday

Rye Harbour Whimbrel Watch

Today was the day of the 12th annual Whimbrel Watch at Rye Harbour, and this morning 19 members of the public joined the warden on an early morning ramble around the Beach Reserve. On Flat Beach Quarry, a total of 205 Whimbrel were counted leaving the traditional roost site. Also here were four Bar-tailed Godwit, 156 Common Tern and about 200 Sandwich Tern. On the shore a further 22 Bar-tailed Godwit were feeding along the tide-line, while an Avocet flew east just offshore. On the return journey, we took in the Narrow Pits, where the highlights were two displaying Turtle Dove, singing Nightingale and a single Swift. Also two Little Stint were present on Ternery Pool before moving to Flat Beach Quarry.

28th April 2006, Friday

Seawatch Records – Hastings/Glyne Gap

This morning 11 pomarine skuas, 7 red-breasted merganser, a whimbrel and a female long-tailed duck were reported flying east, also 3 pomarine skuas were reported flying west close inshore. Later at mid-day/early afternoon small numbers of bar-tailed godwit, common gull and sandwich tern were seen flying east.

28th April 2006, Friday

Wildlife Weekend

There are reminders of the coming weekend of wildlife events and activities, keep a look out for the posters on the back of the local buses. For more information see link in left column.
Wildlife Weekend

28th April 2006, Friday

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

The  dawn count of Whimbrel leaving the roost from Flat Beach Quarry was 182, the first 23 birds leaving at 4.40 and the last 3 at 5.45. An increase of 101 on yesterdays. Other highlights this morning have been, 70 swift and a Hobby at Castle Water, Nightingale still singing along Narrow Pits, and 2 Avocet on Wader Pool. 300+ roosting Common Terns were split between Ternery Pool and Flat Beach Quarry.      

28th April 2006, Friday

Whimbrel

The grasslands around Rye are now echoing to the sound of Whimbrel as the spring passage is now coming to it’s peak. All (?) of the birds roost at night, close to Ternery Pool and are best watched from the bench at the entrance to the Parkes Hide – last year’s maximum count was 373. There is a guided walk tomorrow, starting at 4.30am, see events on the left. However, some individulas have only just started leaving their west African wintering grounds heading for Iceland, perhaps they will stop off with us – see the satellite tracking of one by clicking here.

Whimbrel