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1st September 2007, Saturday

Water levels in the Pannel Valley

Several visitors to the Valley have commented on the varying water levels seen at Carter’s Flood at present. The Flood is fed by a small brook, which is itself reliant on a spring further inland; usually this brook has slowed to a trickle by this time of year, but we have been able to regularly refill Carter’s Flood, creating a two day ‘tidal’ effect, which seems to be appreciated by the birds.

(Some birders visiting the Levels do not seem to know how close the Flood is to Pett Pools. It is most easily visited by taking the footpath east along the Royal Military Canal from ‘Toot Rock’ at Pett Level village – after only ten minute’s walking there is a concrete sluice with a handrail crossing the canal which leads to the small viewing blind).

The Scrape (or more formally ‘14 Acre Scrape‘) is totally reliant on rainfall, so the levels here are being dropped rather more slowly in case of the highly unlikely event (in 2007 at least) of a prolonged sunny spell.. Right now the muddy margins are very popular with Sandpipers, and Greenshank and Spotted Redshank appear daily at present. The Scrape is found alongside the main footpath through the Pannel Valley.
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1st September 2007, Saturday

Pannel Valley NR

Raptor activity at the hirundine roost is high at present; tonight the Swallows and Sand Martins had to put up with the attentions of two Hobbies and four Sparrowhawks, with a Marsh Harrier roosting in their favourite part of the reedbed for extra value. Yesterday our first Merlin of the autumn also made a few passes at them. A Buzzard was seen today, over Pannel Wood, though the Osprey was last recorded on Friday.

The waders in the Pett triangle continue to pull the crowds, and Carter’s Flood has been particularly good; this afternoon it held, amongst others, three Knot, 20 Black-tailed Godwits and a Wood Sandpiper. Our small group of Little Egrets have taken to roosting in the dead alders there.

Tree Pipits and Yellow Wagtails are a daily occurance at the moment, and Grey Wagtails are almost daily. Five Nightingales have been found during the last week, and Whinchats and Wheatears can be found alongside the main footpath. Numbers of migrant Sedge Warblers and Reed Warblers are below the expected numbers for this time of year, perhaps a reflection on the poor breeding season?

Finally, a Harvest Mouse, not at all easily found here, was seen on August 30th.

26th August 2007, Sunday

Brede Valley

An afternoon walk from Rye to Winchelsea and back brought few birds under Cadborough Cliff, perhaps due to the number of walkers, but the return via Rye Marsh Farm and Gateborough Farm was more productive. Over 20 Whinchats were spread atop the reedy ditches separating the many stubble fields where a dozen Wheatears could be found using the straw bales as vantage points.

More than 70 Reed Buntings were also seen, and good numbers of Linnet and Greenfinch were enjoying the stubble, along with several Yellowhammers and Goldfinches.

19th August 2007, Sunday

Pannel Valley NR

Although a couple of Common Redstarts and Nightingales had been seen just before the weekend, the poor weather has kept passerine numbers low. The hirundine roosts are proving erratic, as the winds keep flattening large areas of the reedbeds – tonight only some 250 Sand Martins and 30 Swallows crept in fast and low, right on dusk.

 Although many birders are content to stay by the roadside at Pett Pools, Carter’s Flood is well worth the short walk along from Toot Rock. A lunchtime visit turned up in excess of 130 waders, including four Wood Sandpipers, three Ruff, two Spotted Redshanks, and the sight of a tight flock of more than 20 Snipe nervously wheeling around over the Flood.  

19th August 2007, Sunday

Brede Valley

An afternoon walk under Cadborough Cliffs and back to Rye through Gateborough farm found large numbers of warblers scattered throughout, with more than 80 Whitethroats, 40 Willow Warblers, a dozen Lesser Whitethroats and a Grasshopper Warbler. Every ditch held a small party of Reed Bunting, a half dozen of the resident Yellowhammers were singing, and several Wheatears fed along the main footpath and out in the stubble fields.

14th August 2007, Tuesday

Pett Pools

The water level at the main roadside pool has now been dropped to encourage more waders to stop off and feed. At the start of the operation yesterday afternoon the Ruff and several Snipe were taking advantage of the new feeding, together with Redshanks, Oystercatchers and Turnstone. At least eleven Avocets are still present, plus a similar number of Sandwich Terns.

Also in the ‘Pett Triangle’ (of the Pools, Pannel Scrape and Carter’s Flood) last night were three Wood Sandpipers, the moulting Spotted Redshank and good numbers of Green and Common Sandpipers.

The Kingfisher is always a bird people want to see, and there has been an arrival of juveniles to the area (presumably birds pushed off downstream by their parents) and so a patient wait by either the Pools, the Flood, the Pannel Sewer or the Military Canal should provide visitors with a sighting.

11th August 2007, Saturday

Pannel Valley NR

Up to three Wood Sandpipers can be found in the Valley now, plus five Greenshanks, a Little Stint and Spotted Redshank, though the birds often travel over to Pett Pools as well.

Good numbers of Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler are still passing through the reedbeds, and Nightingale and Tree Pipit were recorded today, while a Wood Warbler was seen on Saturday.

The hirundine roost is proving to be a bit of a hit and miss at the moment, thanks to the attentions of the local Hobby each evening. Barn Owl and Little Owl are being seen nightly as well.

5th August 2007, Sunday

Pannel Valley NR

A Wood Sandpiper and four Greenshank were on Carter’s Flood this morning, and two Marsh Harriers were in the Pannel Valley. Yesterday an eclipse Garganey was on the Scrape.

3rd August 2007, Friday

Pannel Valley NR

As the breeding season comes to an end the water levels on both Carter’s Flood and the Scrape have been dropped to encourage passage waders. Green and Common Sandpipers, Greenshank and Redshank are already appearing, and good numbers of Little Egret and Grey Heron are taking advantage of the new feeding. This morning two flights of Snipe (29 in total) arrived down the Valley.

In common with other local sites, the first departing summer migrants are now showing up. Early morning brings many young Willow Warblers to the woods, and double figure counts of adult and young Garden Warblers are moving through. Much more elusive are handfuls of Grasshopper Warblers hidden in the reedbeds just after dawn; once the reeds have dried a little there are hundreds of Sedge Warblers feeding up, with smaller numbers of Reed Warblers. The first Whinchat and Wheatear are also passing through, often near the public footpath.

Yesterday evening a migrant Nightjar showed well as it hunted over the reeds at dusk. The regular nightly roost of Swallows and Sand Martins has also started, and should now build quickly towards four figure counts over the next few days.

4th June 2007, Monday

Pannel Valley NR

A Black-winged Stilt has arrived on the Scrape this afternoon, viewable from the main hide.