Belated report from the Monday walk! Myself, Angela, Hazel, Ian, Maggie and, joining us for a walk for the first time, Pat N. 44 species seen or heard.
From the start we were serenaded by Chiffchaffs – very rarely were we out of earshot of one. Song Thrushes in good voice too. At the “crossroads” we watched a cheeky Jackdaw with a beakful of nesting material disappear down into the chimney of Victoria House, and heard the wheeze of a Greenfinch. Still some ducks on the water to the west – about 20 Teal, 30 Shoveler and 40 Wigeon. One pair of Pintail noticed, and a couple of Lapwing. Down by the heronry 3 Grey Herons were loafing around by the stream, with a Little Egret. Could have been one heron sitting on the nest, but not sure. Three Cormorants in the oak tree, looked like immature birds, but were they sitting by nests.
As we neared Stretham a Blackcap broke into song in the trees, and along the river we heard a Reed Bunting in song, but unusually it was hiding and we could find it – normally they sit at the top of a bush. A pair of Egyptian Geese took off and flew east – what a strange noise they make! The overflow pit wasn’t showing any emergent vegetation yet so the swans were looking a bit bored – if they’d started nest building, they would have been flooded out. A group of 4 Linnets flew up from the brambles by the river, then one was briefly heard singing on Sharon J’s land. Two Lesser-Black-backed Gulls landed near New Inn.
Coming back along the bridleway a Brimstone butterfly zipped past, and we saw a Red Kite over Canons. Ian took a fabulous photo of the Skunk Cabbage in the ponds. It’s an invasive American species, introduced into the UK in 1947 – banned from sale here in 2016. According to an American website it’s useful to dissuade squirrels from eating your corn or raccoons getting into your tomatoes! One of our members had been working on a protein it produces which results in a release of heat from the plants which is now proving invaluable in the treatment of African sleeping sickness and has potential for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases – amazing what you can learn!

Eight members tackled the 5+ miles down the old railway line and up river. We started with House Sparrows at the start of the railway line, saw or heard many of the commoner species as we walked along the first part, Blue & Great Tits, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Wren, Robins, Long-tailed Tits, a calling Nuthatch.  We heard a Stock Dove singing – if that’s not too generous a term!  When looking across to Rye Farm it looked as though there were a lot of birds moving about near a pond, but on closer inspection they turned out to be strings of light bulbs swaying in the wind!

After all the rain, there was plenty of water again on the fields to the west, containing a group of Black-headed Gulls, approx. 70 Teal, 60 Wigeon, 12 Pintail, half a dozen Shoveler.  Along the railway line we heard a rather unusual call, which turned out to be a male Chaffinch, at least 2 Ravens went over, and in fields to the west were 2 Mute Swans, and a mixed flock of Greylag and Canada Geese, about 60 combined.  The Herons were on two of the nests, 1 on the northern nest and 2 on the southerly one – these two doing some display and the male looking very handsome.

A 3 raptor moment near Stretham Bridge, with Kestrel, Buzzard and Red Kite within five minutes.  The river and overflow pit were rather disappointing this morning, but the two swans looked fine after the encounter with the power lines.  Just south of New Inn was a large flock of gulls, estimated at about 500, 300 Black-headed and 200 Common, which we had a look at through the scope to note the differences in plumage.  Some rather nice Turkey Tail fungus noticed on a dead log.

Ee did a quick divert down the track where about 8 Chiffchaffs were flitting around the ponds, and Godlcrest and Wren also present.

Some not very clear pics of the Herons and gulls attached.  The Common Gulls are the larger ones with the greeny-yellow beaks and similar coloured legs.  Generally slightly slatier grey backs than the Black-headed Gulls – not all of which have black heads at the moment!  Better photo of the fungus.

Nine of us  for the February amble amble round the levels & river on Monday 20th.

Along the first part of the railway line we heard three different Song Thrushes, got good views of a Jay, a brief glimpse of a Nuthatch as it flew from a wire into a tree.  Once into the fields and looking over patches of water on the levels,  most of the usual duck species were noted – Teal, Wigeon, Pintail and Mallard, plus 3 Shoveler.  A Raven was heard, then Buzzard and Red Kite seen.  When the Lapwings rose into the air and were easier to see, a conservative count was 300.  A couple of Snipe were noted.  Where the millstream reaches the railway line, we could see about 80 Greylag Geese and a few Canadas in a field to the east, then in a wet patch a bit closer were 5 Pied Wagtails and a couple of Meadow PipitsSkylark in song too.  On the west side one Grey Heron was sitting on the right hand nest, and two Little Egrets were lurking underneath.  Just one Cormorant in the oak tree, though we’d seen another earlier.

Dave had just mentioned that we hadn’t had any Fieldfares, when we found a field full of them (about 100) with some Redwings and Starlings too.  Near the overflow pit  Suzy noticed some small waders fly over, which then merged with some Lapwings.  Reckon they were Dunlin, but not quite sure enough to put them in as a BirdTrack record. They weren’t Snipe or Green Sandpipers though. Angela departed here and headed back to Small Dole.   By the time we got to New Inn we were rather “birded out” though enjoyed seeing two Ravens fly across, and some Greenfinches singing.  The final nice spot of the morning for the remaining 4 was a very nice view of a Goldcrest low down in the bushes by Rye House.  As a postscript two of us wandered down to the pools by the Rye Farm track and had lovely views of at least 5 Chiffchaffs.

As always, thanks to all for their eyes and ears to help spot the 46 different species (or was it 47?)!

“Shocking” experience yesterday when out along the Adur with Sharon J, Sam & Al. A pair of swans, which had been sitting by the water, flew upriver, then doubled back and flew towards the overflow pit. The male landed safely, the female was lower and hit some electricity wires (with swan diverters on) – there was a huge bang and lots of flashing, and the swan plummeted to the ground beside a ditch. Thought it was a goner as it laid motionless for at least half a minute, probably longer. Then it managed to move slightly and flopped down in the water in the ditch. It lifted its head and neck a little, then a bit more and was making snake like movements with its neck, and shaking its head. Next shook its tail and started to slowly paddle in the stream. Was looking stronger when we moved off.
Went back in the afternoon and both swans were back by the river, reunited and looking fine. (VB)

A good number again this morning – of walkers and birds!  Joining me were Angela, Belinda, Dave,  Ian, John D, Mark & Tessa, Sharon J (with Bess) and Suzy.  Beautiful day, cold but sunny and no wind.

We heard several Song Thrushes in song along the first part of the railway line, admired a lovely group of Long-tailed Tits in the trees beside the embankment, heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming and a Green Woodpecker yaffling. Angela picked up the call of a Bullfinch, but only worked out what it was a bit later! The flooded fields were mostly covered in ice, but in the distance we could see probably 2,500 birds – the majority Wigeon and Teal, with smaller numbers of Pintail and Shoveler, and about 200 Lapwing.  Among 300 or so Black-headed Gulls, I found one Common Gull.  Suzy noticed a single Snipe fly up.

Looking across the fields from the bridge with the metal railings, there was great excitement when Suzy and Belinda found a Kingfisher perched on a bush over a stream.  Very distant but got some reasonable ‘scope views.  Then more excitement when a Red Kite was spotted way off – probably the other side of the river!  We had seen Fieldfares feeding with Redwing and Blackbirds on ripening ivy berries.  These are a valuable food source this time of year.

A Kestrel was flying around near Stretham, and along the river we had 2 more Little Egrets, a single Stonechat, and two Ravens cronked their way over.  We found a dead Buzzard lying by the river, but later saw a live one, and a group of 14 Goldfinches were in a bush to the left.  A Moorhen scuttered across the river, and Dave noticed a Grey Wagtail on the path, which disappeared, to be relocated by Tessa beside the kayaks.

Must admit I was getting quite tired by then, so the only other species I had the energy to note down was Starlings along the bridleway!

A couple of not very clear “record” photos attached.  Loaded everything onto BirdTrack and it came up with a total of 47 different species  –  and I didn’t record Dunnock!

Took another look at the floods by Rye Farm this morning with Audrey, and though the wind was cold and the ducks were distant, the light was excellent, so we had good views of the wildfowl. The Pochards and Tufted Ducks were there, Pintail in quite good numbers, a couple of Grey Herons on their favourite posts over the other side of the water, and a Little Egret perched in a tree preening. There were also three Roe Deer lounging around on the far bank. On the way back we saw a little group of Gadwall in the water near the track, and Audrey was enchanted by all the Chiffhaffs flitting around in the ponds, which do have a distinct whiff of sewage, probably why there are so many insects around! As we watched the Chiffchaffs a Kestrel was hovering overhead. Audrey managed to see the Grey Wagtail, which I missed. (VB)
Pics of (1)  Gadwall, (2)  several Pintail, Pochards and a pair of Wigeon.

The Fab Four (me, Will, Nigel & Nige) did our annual New Year Bird Race on 4th January. 66 species, beating our previous record by 3. Walked 11 miles – should have been 10 but flooding by New Inn meant we had to go the extra mile! Highlights were Blackcap at 8 am in my garden, Water Rail having a splash and a preen by the hide at Woods Mill, Water Pipit by the overflow pit (a lifer for Will and first for us in the Race). Treecreeper & Mistle Thrush along the Hollands Lane bridleway, Tufted Duck on the water, then finally the Chiffchaffs and Grey Wagtail showed up by Rye Farm. Finished with a Tawny Owl hooting along Stonepit Lane in the dark about 4.30. No bird pics, but one of the lads wading through the floods at the millstream.

Just three of us, Suzy, Angela & myself, did the monthly stroll around this morning.  Quite hard going in places because the paths along the river and through the fields were quite uneven, but the dips were hidden by the patches of snow.  Suzy was delighted that she had seen Water Rail and Barn Owl in the area recently.

House Sparrows in bushes by Braziers kicked off the walk, and a good range of common species were collected along first section, including 3 Jays.  Across the fields we could see Snipe flying up and down, over 100 Teal in the small areas of water – the sun was lighting up their green wing patches (speculums) which looked gorgeous.  There were 3 Pintail, a few Wigeon and Shoveler and one Canada Goose.  The rest of the Canadas were grazing in one of the higher fields south of Rye Farm. Three Lapwing were looking a little bemused on the ice, then another 3 flew in to join them. A pair of Egyptian Geese were near the heronry, and Fieldfares and Redwings in the bushes along the railway line.

Along the river we were a little frustrated because some small ducks in the water kept only giving glimpses before disappearing out of sight.  A cry of joy came from Suzy who spotted the flash of a Kingfisher, but Angela and I weren’t quick enough to catch it.  On the overflow pit were a couple of Mute Swans having a preen.  When one got up it had to tread very carefully to avoid slipping over.  In a sheep field by New Inn were another lot of Snipe – about 30.  Looking into the light so photo not good, but we enjoyed watching them for a while.

The causeway is just about passable in wellies now so we walked back past Frogshole, finding a single Stock Dove among Jackdaws and Woodpigeons in another field of sheep, and a few more Lapwings and Teal over towards Buckwish Farm.  In the pools along the track was a Pied Wagtail, another Snipe and I reckon 7 Chiffchaffs flitting around. A Goldcrest called from the other side and a Nuthatch just as I got back to Hollands Lane.

Excellent walk, and many thanks to Suzy for the addition of Kingfisher to the list of 44 species! (VB)