Following Brian’s posting, I’ve seen more House Sparrows in Camber than anywhere else around here. I first noticed how common they were while atlassing two winters ago, but on 7 Dec. this year I did my first “timed tetrad visit” (TTV) there and clocked up 95 in the two hours. That’s only the ones I counted (or guesstimated, in the case of several dense noisy groups in roadside bushes). In no way was that a full census of the village - the numbers there must run into the hundreds. They’re also resident at Moneypenny and even much further out on the levels at remote spots like Barn Farm. No wonder Tree Sparrows have had such a hard time competing. In contrast, I found just 10 sparrows in a more recent TTV around Ore and Clive Vale in urban Hastings.
Archive for December, 2010
I arrived at Pett Pools at 7.30am, but it was still a bit dark to see anything, so I took the chance to go to Scotney for a change, where there were huge numbers of Wigeon, everywhere plus W.Front., Greylag, Barnacle Geese. Other birds of note there were 3 Marsh Harrier, Peregrine Falcon.From there I went to look for some swans, and I was very surprized to find my biggest herd of Bewick Swans I’ve ever seen with 120/140,also very large numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare in the bushes along the lane side between Lydd and Rye. I arrived back at Pett around 10am. There was around 30/40 Brent Geese on the marsh,( Winchelsea end) with 9/10 light bellied. There was at least 5,000 Wigeon at the pools. I was watching from the van, when Cliff told me about R.B.G. After that we braved the muddy footpath to get good views of our first Red B.Goose with the W.F.Geese . Also seen 50 Barnacle Geese flew over the pools in the afternoon. Good bird watching and a Happy New Year Pete.
I have said on this website before that one of the ironies of taking a bird watching holiday to Extremadura in 2004, home of an amazing array of birds, was that I came back intent on increasing our Northiam house sparrow population. At the time the peak count in my garden was a paultry 6 birds, whereas the garden of the hotel I stayed at was full of them, and numerous other species of course. OK, there was a white stork nest on the roof that contained a small nesting colony of house sparrow, but I came away thinking that food was probably the key.
Since then I have fed the birds consistently through summer and winter, and have experimented with different brands to get the version that seems most attractive. For a few years now I have been using Read the rest of this entry »
Photo by John Willsher
The Red-breasted Goose was still present at Pett Level about midday, at that point at the back of the marsh. It could be picked out from the seawall but the best views were to be had from the footpath alongside the RM Canal, about 15 mins walk from Toot Rock. It was in a flock of Greylags, Whitefronts and 2 Barnacles.
Other species seen from that spot were m Marsh Harrier, f Merlin and a Med Gull. Far fewer Whitefronts today and probably fewer Wigeon but still thousands of those.
The RBG first reported by Graeme Spinks was still present at dusk along with Whitefronts at the back of the marsh behind the pools. This is the first for Pett Level and I’m pretty sure for this end of Sussex.
There are 3-4 groups of Whitefronts, totalling about 300 birds and a huge mass of Wigeon, maybe 5000? And one drake Pintail. Barnacle Geese still alongside the footpath but I didn’t try to count them, nor the hundreds of GC Grebes on the sea.
3 Bitterns yesterday and one this morning at Carter’s flood
Highlights while out and about this week have included 3 Bittern (2 infront of the hide), 2800 Wigeon and a ringtail Hen Harrier at Castle Water. 3 Woodcock and a Jack Snipe on Harbour Farm. Merlin, 20 Knot, 14 Grey Plover and 70 Dunlin along Shore Ridges. Offshore 9 Velvet Scoter were amongst a flock of 200 Common Scoter and 12 Red-throated Diver were lingering out from the Old Life Boat House.
It was wildfowl count day yesterday and although some numbers were surprisingly low (only four smew and five goosanders) we did notch up a reserve record count of wigeon with a total of 7488 birds present across the site. Bitterns may also have reached a record high with eleven birds counted.
Also of note yesterday were at least 150 white-fronted geese flying over (there is a flock of 300+ near Cockles Bridge, between the reserve and Lydd, this morning) and in excess of 100 Bewick’s swans roosting on the ARC site.
Despite the freezing weather across the country the RX area remains relatively mild and the forecast for the next couple of days is to stay above freezing - at least along the coast. This is good news for the birds that find their food by probing. The intertidal areas on the shore and in the estuary will be providing soft ground full of food. Today at Castle Water there were still some small unfrozen areas at the pit margin and in front of the hide there was a Snipe probing for food. In the video below you can see the bird catching a worm at about 10 seconds in. Click on the 4 arrows bottom right to view full screen.
Huge numbers of wildfowl have gathered on two patches of open water at Castle Water over the past few days. Highlights have included 600 Wigeon, 800 Mallard, 450 Gadwall, 400 Teal, 190 Shoveler, 155 Tufted Duck, 800 Coot, 138 Mute Swan and 140 Canada Geese, roosting waders included 650 Lapwing, 8 Ruff and 70 Snipe. At least five Bittern were presnt around the margins of the main pit yesterday, four Marsh Harrier and a Common Buzzard provided raptor interest, and 4 Woodcock gave great flight views as they flew passed the hide.
Norther end of main pit