WeBS 14th March 2021

After taking over the wetland bird survey for the West End area from Roger French, I was delighted to be joined by him for the March survey. It was a bright day but a biting north-westerly wind made it chilly in exposed areas, and we started with a bit of long-distance scanning from West End Lane across to floods west of the river. From there we somehow managed to pick out a male Mandarin, the first one for Henfield this year. The floods by Buckwish Farm held handfuls of ducks and a Little Egret. Walking up the river added a few birds here and there, but down from Betley Bridge we counted just over 200 Geese, with 63 Canada and 144 Greylag. They also boasted a Black Swan and the Bar-headed Goose amongst their number, clearly  escapees from somewhere or the other. Also present here were 5 Lapwing. At various points we risked life and limb to wade through flooded fields to see what we could  flush, and with 29 Snipe flying up as we approached it illustrates just how many of this species are lurking unseen in the meadows alongside the river. It was also at this point that I discovered that I now have a hole in one of my Wellington boots. From a non-wetland bird perspective highlights were several singing Skylarks, both mine and a Roger’s first singing Chiffchaff of the year, and 3 Lesser Redpolls alongside the river west of Great Betley Farm.