Chilly but bright

A lovely day for a walk along the millstream to the Downslink, Stretham Bridge and back through the fields.  Fairly quiet to start with, very little noted.  There was a single Cormorant in the oak tree, but looked like an altercation was likely between some swans in the pond beneath.  I could see two adults with their wings raised rather menacingly, approaching a family of four.  At Stretham I was admiring a Little Egret on the bank and a Kestrel which flew onto the bank then pounced on something in the long grass, took off and flew onto a fence. Following that three quite large groups of thrushes came over.  Looked to be mostly Fieldfares, but with Redwings too.  About 50-60 in each group, the largest numbers I’ve seen so far this autumn/winter.  On the way back saw a single Meadow Pipit on the dung heap, heard one bubbling Skylark over the field, then a Bullfinch and Pied Wagtail on the return trot along the millstream. (VB)

Woodcock in the garden

I surprised a Woodcock in the garden yesterday, feeding in a rough patch under the pergola, and this morning a Green Woodpecker spent some time digging out an ants’ nest in the grass. Two Greenfinches on the sunflower feeder all week and one Coal Tit, several Blue Tit’s and Great Tits and a dozen House Sparrows, a Magpie with one foot missing (how does the poor thing roost?) and 7 Starlings digging busily through the turf. Three Wood Pigeons chasing each other off, just one Collared Dove feeding peacefully, two Blackbirds feeding in the borders, a Wren in the tubs on the terrace and finally a flock of 5 or 6 mixed gulls hoovering up pastry scraps. (SB)

Water Pipit

A Water Pipit found on the Levels south of Rye Farm this morning. (DB)


Ed’s note: This is only the eighth record of this species for Henfield. The first two were from 1983 and 1984 respectively, and then it wasn’t until January 2020 that the next one was recorded, again on Rye Levels. The next five records, however, are all of the same bird. This was  from the January of this year, when one was observed once again on Rye Levels between the 25th and 29th.

Balcony birding…. again

Very enjoyable coffee on the balcony this morning as the skies above us were busy with birds flying over. A distant flock of 40 ducks emerged to be Wigeon as they got nearer, flying up from the Levels northward followed by another group of about 25. Next up flying right over the house was a mixed flock of about 30 Fieldfares and Redwing, the former being the majority making the familiar ‘chacking’ noise while Redwings were ‘tseeping’ as they flew over. A Meadow Pipit flew overhead as well. In general, the garden seems to be getting busier with birds at the feeder now with numbers of Blue Tits, Greenfinches and most pleasing of all Chaffinches with the biggest number last week reaching 12. (MR)

Area Walk

Six proud walkers met yesterday morning for the area walk around The Levels. One of the first birds we heard was a Song Thrush tuning up, then a Goldcrest and Coal Tit were heard in the stretch just after the Cabin. We didn’t attempt the “limbo” path and fields which looked really difficult to navigate. However, we went into the fields lower down and had a good scan over the floods, finding Greylag Geese, plenty of Wigeon and Mallard, slightly fewer Teal and Shoveler, a pair of Pintail, a Grey Heron and the odd Coot and Moorhen. Slightly further south on the edge of the floods were about 220 Lapwing. We caught sight of 2 Snipe overhead and a Grey Wagtail. A few Redwing flew over and one perched in a nearby bush. There were 5 Cormorants in their roosting tree and a load more Greylags, with Canadas and 2 of the odd hybrids. Looking to the east, a lump on a distant pylon was, predictably, a Peregrine. A bit closer a Kestrel hovered over a field. Down by Stretham we had a great view of Fieldfares in a bare tree, with some Redwings, and three Greenfinches.

Heading up river, the overflow pit was quiet apart from two Mute Swans with a juvenile, though we also picked up Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Linnet and Reed Bunting nearby. We were lamenting the lack of Stonechats when we spotted one on a bush – it flew to another bush and was joined by a second, so there were a male female there. There was also a brief snatch of Cetti’s Warbler song. (VB et al)

Wetland Bird Survey

With not a lot of flooding around in the West End Levels, recording wetland birds was bit of an uphill struggle this morning. By Frogshole a flock of 15 Snipe popped up, flying together in a tight formation before disappearing over the treeline. And that was about it. Also added to the list was 2 Mallards, 2 Grey Herons and  4 Moorhens. Another Snipe did appear though, between the confluence and Chates.

Non-Wetland birds of interest were a female Sparrowhawk chasing a Wood Pigeon (it got away), around 15 Redwings, good views of a Buzzard and 2 Kestrels. (PC)

Quiet by the river

Walked a circuit from Stonepit Lane to the river at West End, then up to the fishermen’s track.  Lovely morning, but pretty quiet.  The only sighting of note was a Kingfisher which called then gave a brief glimpse as it zipped along a stream between the river and what was Adam’s yard. (VB)

Rye Farm triumphs again!

The weather was too lovely to sit in front of a computer so we took a quick walk down the track to Rye Farm and the view  of the line of orange barked poplars glistening in the late afternoon sun and reflecting in the mirror smooth floodwater was breathtaking; the birds weren’t bad either!
The Grey Wagtail was still picking up insects from the shaded pond alongside the track; in the alder trees above the pond we found half a dozen Siskin feeding on the cones alongside some Goldfinches while a Goldcrest was calling continually. On the flooded field there was around a 100 Wigeon looking brilliant in the sun and there was also a pair of Shoveler. Redwings zoomed out of the hedges alongside the track with a couple of Fieldfares amongst them. A Kestrel hovered over the field and then on the far side, a Barn Owl drifted into view and landed on a low branch, wonderful. On the way back, a Buzzard sat out on the top of a telegraph pole and a Cormorant flew over and there were a pair of Stonechats either side of the track.
As last week, we recorded 32 species in just an hour’s walk and we both reflected how lucky we are that we live just 10 minutes away from this wonderful place. (MR/LM)

The Mill Stream

A very nice stroll along the Mill Stream to the railway line and back yesterday morning. Nice flock of Long-tailed Tits at the start, then all was fairly quiet on the outward leg. Several Cormorants were in their usual tree. On the way back I noticed a family of Mute Swans – 2 adult with three youngsters – in the wet patch, heard Meadow Pipits and Skylarks, then a pair of Stonechats were frolicking about on the overhead wires, though could only get a pic of the female. Back in the scrub again I heard a quick burst of Cetti’s Warbler and a Bullfinch calling.

And it hasn’t taken long for the vapour trails to cloud that lovely blue sky we had become used to! (VB)