Angela, Mary and myself (with Ezio the collie) set off along the Downslink this morning firstly enjoying the sounds of Great Spotted Woodpecker young calling from their nest and plenty of song from Blackcaps, Robins, Wrens and Chiffchaffs along the way. There was little to be seen from the wooden gate, so we headed on, and detoured into the field with the best view over the fields. From there we could hear Reed Bunting, Cetti’s Warbler, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat and in good voice (if you can say that of a Reed Bunting?). There were Little Egrets and Grey Herons in the fields, Canada and Greylag Geese, a pair of Egyptian Geese and a lone Oystercatcher. Mary spotted a Red Kite in the distance, which then flew right overhead.

Further on, from the bridge with the metal rails, we watched a few Lapwings in the grass, then realised that at least one was a fairly well grown chick. A Grey Heron was flying a bit too near and the adults were trying to chase it away. At the heronry there were plenty of white blobs in the trees, so the Little Egrets are still sitting, however one heron which landed by the stream looked like a youngster. At least two pairs of Greylag Geese had goslings accompanying them.

Angela needed to head back to Small Dole, and after a consultation with Mary, we agreed to go back that way in the hope of hearing a Nightingale (which we didn’t), but we did hear a Reed Warbler, another Cetti’s Warbler and more Reed Buntings. Some Linnets called as they flew over and a Buzzard was soaring to the north of us.

Val Bentley, 20th May 2024

Taking Ziggy on a circular walk which included passing by the lakes and where we take a break and watch and listen my sadness turned to joy! The Canada Geese pair were on the opposite bank, just as they were on Wednesday, then I noticed the five goslings huddled up in the shade of a willow, after awhile they started feeding, were they there on Wednesday and I just didn’t notice, I know what your thinking. The thing that is puzzling me is where have they been hiding since the 6th, what with foxes, badgers and the dreaded mink which are about the area. Just goes to show what good parents geese are, the mysteries of nature never fail to intrigue. Not so much birdsong today although the Cuckoo was in good voice and he gave me a fantastic flypast just as we were leaving.

John Pointing, 17th May 2024

Walking Ziggy yesterday morning in beautiful weather was very pleasant, although very warm and as we are acclimatised to cold and wet conditions it will take a bit of time to get used to the heat. Our route took us alongside a tree lined stream were we put up a pair of Roe Deer from the long grass. They stood and watched us and I whispered, “Run away, don’t trust man they could have evil intent.” They sauntered off through a gap in the dividing hedge into the next field, we crept silently to the hedge and peered around the edge , the deer were wandering away but a pair of Red-legged Partridge were lying in the young corn. Although originally an introduced species for the shooting fraternity they are on the British list and breed in this area. All the time a Cuckoo was calling as we made our way to the lakes so I kept my camera handy. Sitting by the lakes in what seemed to a snowfall caused by the willows casting their seeds to the breeze there was birdsong all around, Cuckoo still calling, Green Woodpecker, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Wood Pigeon, Chiffchaff, Cetti’s Warbler, Corvids in the background plus tits working their way through the willows. My visit to the lakes was tinged with a little sadness though, after my posting on 06/05 my pleasure at seeing the newly hatched Canada Geese goslings and my concern about an intruding pair of Canada Geese constantly harassing the family. Unfortunately my worst fears came to pass, the goslings are no more undoubtedly died from cold and hunger at being unable to leave the water for the warmth of their mother’s breast and to feed. The next day the parents were in an adjoining field looking very forlorn.

John Pointing, 16th May 2024

We had a stroll down the railway line tonight. 200 metres in, there was a Great Spotted Woodpecker nest with many young singing for food. Heading south towards Berrits from the road on the East side (left). The Tawny Owls are back at TQ 203142 in the overhanging trees. This is 200 metres before the footpath with the very very muddy kissing gate. About 1.5 miles from the road. There was a mother and two babies being fed. Had good sightings of her as she flew in to feed them. Listen for the tell tale noise they make.

We also had a brief glimpse of a Barn Owl flyby. Lovely to see.

Peter and Penny Meares, 15th May 2024

Just got back from running my :Evening with Nightingales’ for SWT. We heard five Nightingales up the Mill Stream but they were a bit half- hearted in their performance. When we got to the gate into the field we suddenly heard the ‘kwik’ call of a Nightjar! a couple of people saw it as,well. Probably just arrived across the channel, might be on its way to Ashdown Forest

Mike Russell, 13th May 2024

Lesley and I completed our early Breeding Bird survey for Area 7 this week. The walk starts at stinky pond and takes us to Springhills, Blackgate Lane, Parsonage Road, the cemetery, Staples Barn, Lawyers Lane and Hollands Lane.

Highlights were:

  • High numbers of Starlings and House Sparrows ( both of which are red- listed ) at Southview, Neptown and the Medical Centre. We saw birds with nesting material and food and going into nests under eaves.
  • A Nightingale singing on the Downslink and another singing to the southwest of Springing Hills where we also saw three Common Whitethroat and heard one Lesser Whitethroat.
  • A Tawny Owl hooting near the wood at the top of Windmill Lane at 8.30am (!).
  • A pair of Bullfinches benefitting from no-mow May, feeding on dandelion seeds.
  • A Wren taking food to a nest.
  • Three Swallows in Stonepit Lane near the stables.

Debbie Colgate, 14th May 2024

One of our Swifts is back and entered the box at 6.00am yesterday. Still waiting for the other one.

Debbie Colgate, 14th May 2024

A beautiful morning on Sunday and an ideal time to do the first Area 8 breeding survey, which takes me from Woods Mill car park up to Oreham Common, then to Sands Farm, Small Dole and back to and around the reserve. Accompanied by Lesley, we recorded 40 species but technically couldn’t count a distant Buzzard as it was way out our recording area! In terms of  breeding birds it was difficult to confirm any actual breeding but you can assess potential breeding territories as by far the majority of birds recorded were by song an indication of possible breeding. The only definite sign of breeding was a group of 22 Starlings which contained a number of newly-fledged juveniles.

Highlights of the walk were hearing five different Nightingales, four of them around Oreham Common and one on the reserve. A Cuckoo called briefly from the back around the reserve. More unusual was seeing a distant Wheatear sitting on the corner of a barn roof. Other migrants were thin on the ground with two Swifts and one Swallow flying over. However, there was a good sprinkling of Warblers, lots of Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Whitethroats and Reed Warblers with singles of Cetti’s Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat.

Mike Russell, 13th May 2024