Back birding again

It's mostly been a summer of cricket for me (watching, not playing!) and have not been birding much of late recently. I have been out on the occasional day but nothing really serious (although I did twitch a Hoopoe at Climping a couple of weekends ago).

All that changed this weekend though, and my, what a fantastic weekend it was too!

Up early Saturday morning and catching the train to Pulborough. Cue sitting in Nettley's hide for two hours to shelter from the rain and looking out on a dark and grey landscape with dozens of Lapwings, plenty of ducks (Mallard, Teal, Wigeon and Shoveler) and apart from four indistinct waders in the far distant, not a lot avian about. I spent much of the time however watching a dozen or so Fallow Deer just outside the hide, as well as observing a couple of very fine-looking foxes wondering about, and admiring the new lay-out of the North Brooks. Despite that however I was feeling rather underwhelmed by what was there.

About 10.30 however and the rain stopped and the light improved and suddenly Pulborough Brooks put a show on for me! First I noticed a group of hirundines flying about over the trees to the left, followed quickly by a fantastic Hobby landing on one of the trees. Then a large flock of Greylags came in to land, along with some Canada Geese too, all very noisy but very dramatic! And the improvement in light meant that I could tell that those four indistinct waders in the far distant were in fact Sandpipers, two Green but not sure about the other two.

Walking out the hide I was confronted by a deer just standing outside the hide and eyeing me up, all from about 15 yards away. Lovely animal. Clearly they are quite used to being near humans, as it didn't seem too scared of me. I walked up to Jupp's View and two wardens were there, where I had a chat with them and they showed me that the other two waders were in fact Curlew Sandpipers…! They also found a Snipe foraging for food, and heard over their radio that a Marsh Harrier had been sighted on the reserve.

Leaving them I walked back up to the visitor centre for tea and cake (!), stopping off to watch plenty of the more common passerines.

The cake was, as ever, splendid, made all the better by all the activity on the bird feeders, including a nuthatch and my first ever Marsh Tit - fantastic views of it allowing me to get the finer points of its plumage, but it also giving off its "sneezing" call making ID a cert. So that's another lifer that morning (including the curlew sandpiper.

The rest of the day was spent wandering around the reserve enjoying the place, and sitting in the Nettley's hide again and watching a male Peregrine for half an hour while it ate a Lapwing. Walking back to the station, there was a Buzzard circling about the village to add to my raptor ticks for the day (having also a Kestrel too earlier in the day).

Sunday also offered some birding opportunities, with a walk up The Burgh near Burpham. Although principally out walking rather than birding, I did have my bins with me and I'm so glad that I did have as I would have missed a real beauty - a bird I've wanted to see for years and never have done. Walking down one quiet footpath I noticed a large raptor soaring away. "Buzzard" I thought to myself. Quick look through the bins and I noticed that its wings weren't in the usual V-shape. Then it changed direction and I got its whole shape, complete with forked tail… The white patches under the wing confirmed it for me too - Red Kite. Not just one, but two! Fantastic!! At last, I'd seen one, and what a beauty. That really was a highlight of the whole weekend.

More walking gave me Stonechats, Grey Partridge, a huge flock of Goldfinches, plenty of Swallows, and more Buzzards and a couple of Peregrines. All good work for what was essentially just a walk up the Downs with the other half!
 
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