Sunday, 23 January 2022

Grey walk in Hurst!

 Margie and I went for a mid-morning walk around Hurstpierpoint today, down Langton Lane, through the Turkey farm, followed the Stream to Danworth Lane then home up Cuckfield Road, 3.8 miles although the good work was slightly undone by the large piece of yesterday's Chocolate/Cherry cake consumed on arrival home😢!

The walk itself was a bit low on bird activity although we did have a few Greenfinch along Langton Lane, the Dungheap is slowly increasing in size, several Blackbirds and Robins on it and a nice Pied Wagtail, hopefully it will have regained it's former glory by the Spring ready for a flood of migrants!! A couple of Red-legged Partridge hunkered down in a field and a small flock of Redwings in the top of a tree also along the lane!

Great Tit


Love a fluffy Reedmace, look better with a Penduline Tit hanging off it, one day perhaps!!

Greenfinch, were a small flock squabbling loudly in this tree!

The Church from the Dungheap

Nice bright Pied Wagtail

Red-legged Partridge



The stream section was quiet with a Little Egret the best of it, few more Greenfinch and another small flock of Redwing associating with a small group of Goldfinch.

Fieldfare, the only one we saw on the walk, numbers well down on last year, guess it just hasn't been cold enough to force them this far south yet!


Little Egret

Nice plumes

Bird eventually flew off, showing nice pair of Yellow feet

Relocated to the top of a tall tree!!
Crossed Cuckfield Road, some thrush action with a single Redwing, a few Blackbirds and a couple of Song Thrushes foraging in the grass.

Song Thrush
On Danworth Lane, we found a couple of Treecreepers in a big oak, they really didn't want their picture taken, relocating to the side of the tree that I wasn't at every opportunity😡!  Nuthatch was heard but not seen as well, a couple of Long-tailed Tits were in the tree and the hedge but they didn't want to be pictured either!! A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew out of the Oak above our heads as well!

Treecreeper photobombing my pin sharp Oak bark study!!

Great Spotted Woodpecker at some distance

Long-tailed Tit
That was about it really, what a difference a day makes, yesterday I was walking around Sussex farmland watching hundreds of Linnets, Chaffinches, Yellowhammers, Lapwings etc with a supporting cast of multiple Raptors. Today, we walked around Sussex farmland and in terms of Farmland bird saw next to nothing, a couple of Chaffinches although they were more in a garden, no Linnets or Yellowhammers, and not a single Raptor though we did hear a Buzzard. Shows what can be achieved when farms are managed with nature in mind hopefully subsidies will be aimed at this at the farms around here may be come better for wildlife!!!


Saturday, 22 January 2022

Ton Up!!

 Having a count up the other night I realised I was on 92 for the year, could I get to 100 by the end of January? Now I know as challenges go getting to 100 a species seen by the end of January is not that difficult, indeed many Birders will have easily surpassed that on January the 1st in a bird race type scenario. However for context I've got nowhere near it in the last two years, down to lockdown and various other reasons so Game On!! So where to go, with a lack of Farmland birds on me list I decided a wander round The Burgh near Arundel. 

I was quite keen to get out after no birding for two weeks due to work and family commitments, so was up and out early, misjudging the length of the journey I arrived at the peppering triangle just after 7,in the dark!! Too Keen😃😂!! By the time I had got kitted up, it was lightening up, things started well a Raven kronked over 93! I have seen Little Owl in this area before, albeit a few years ago but no luck, I scanned from the gate hoping for a Barnie or an SEO but also no luck,  A Kestrel appeared  and had a hover I went for the shot, nothing happened uh-oh!! In the gloom I thought it was the battery so swapped to the spare, flashing red, double uh-oh!!😱 Rookie error!!! I then realised that one of the switches on the lens was in the wrong position, put the old battery back in and we are good to go, Phew!!! However the Battery was still only half full. Now what I laughingly call my Photography technique is basically full automatic everything, set on high speed continuous, point at bird and blast away!! Now I had severe battery anxiety!! I would normally on a day like this, take around 1500 shots if not more, so now I set the camera to single shot, no more pics of posy Robins and Blackbirds, no more Landscapes!! Good shit only!!!!😀  

I set off towards the Burgh, I relaxed my no Landscapes rule to take a pic of the Lone Tree, I needn't have worried, as there was little to take pics of in the gloom, however I added Red-legged Partridge (94) and then a Covey of Grey Partridge (95) erupted from the field margin next to me, so close I nearly had a heart attack, lucky I'm made of strong stuff!!😲 There were plenty of Blackbirds, Dunnocks, Robins and the odd Wren in the hedges and I spotted a group of Partridge on the path up ahead which I managed a couple of shots off though very noisy with the light still terrible!!

The Lone Tree

Grey Partridge 

So I reached The Burgh and decided to head down towards the Dew Ponds. At this point my  winter trousers, which are excellent in all respects except the belt thingy the holds them up keeps loosening, decided to let me down, I was retightening it when a Hen Harrier (96) flew past!!! Camera/Trousers? Trousers/Camera?😱 With no ladies present I obviously went  for the Camera, by the time I sorted myself out the bird was past, so poor record shots only!!
Hen Harrier

Told you it was a Record shot!!
With trousers back under control, I headed down the path, seemed the Hen Harrier sparked off a bit of a Raptorfest, two Marsh Harriers(97), several Red Kites and Buzzards seen gliding over plenty of Ravens as well. There were also a lot of small birds lurking in the hedges, mainly Chaffinches, Linnets, Reed Buntings and Goldfinches, I managed to pick out a couple of Bramblings (98) in the various flocks I was  also pleased to see  a couple of flocks of Lapwings flying about.

Red Kite


An even worse pic of the Hen Harrier

Brambling top, Chaffinch below

Another Red Kite

Common Buzzards

Red Kite

Reed Bunting

Marsh Harrier, Both birds I saw were big Female types, seen together first up, then had another couple of flypasts later, this was the best pic I managed 😢
I headed down to the bottom, much of the same small finch flocks, fly pasts by Red Kites and Buzzards with the occasional glimpse of the Hen Harrier, up the other side at the top the field contained a good number of Common Gulls.(99) I turned left and followed the ridge, biggish flock of Fieldfares (100) Whoop done it!!
Common Gull


I followed the path round, until it intersected the main path, which I followed back to the Burgh before diverting off to the path that leads down to Canada Barn, a long slog with not much about, more Chaffinches, Lapwings in a field and me first Yellowhammers(101) of the year, I also saw a couple of Stock Doves (102) rocking it now!!




Lapwing, nice to see quite a few of these

The small stuff was buried deep today!!
Hitting the main path again, I decided to walk back down to the Dew Ponds to try for some more Brambling action and maybe find the Harrier again. I found a nice mixed flock of Buntings/Finches mainly Chaffinches, but at least 8 Bramblings, Linnets, Goldfinches and Yellowhammers with the odd Reed Bunting mixed in! Spent a happy half hour trying to get pictures of the Bramblings , tricky with them disappearing into the thick stuff at the base of the hedges before reappearing into the hedge, I soon got my eye in with the Bramblings distinctive white back panel marking them out, found a puddle where several birds were drinking and washing. Was also visited by a nice flock of Long-tailed Tits as stood quietly by the hedge.
Puddle party


Long-tailed Tits

Brambling rear view


Female Chaffinch


Another Red Kite flew by and wasn't a silhouette, Hurrah

Red Kite

Red Kite

The birds soon returned to the pool

Kestrel watching proceedings from a distance

With nearly 6 miles under my belt and time knocking on I decided to call it a day, the walk back was quiet, usual suspects, lots of Chaffinch, a few Bramblings and lots of Raptors, the views on the walk back are pretty spectacular with Arundel Castle and the sea beyond, at the farm I had a Peregrine powering through the Valley putting up everything including loads of Starlings, by the time I actually located it, it was to far for pics!!
Smoke and Sunbeams although the Sunbeams haven't come out very well!

The Lone Tree from the other side

Arundel Castle
So an excellent day for birding but not so much for pictures, the nature of the area, high hedges, folds in the land make it difficult add in low light conditions and you see the problem so apologies for the low quality  of the pics!! But got me 100 up and plenty going on the whole way round which is why I enjoy this area! Though my feet were killing me despite me Dr Scholls, two pairs of socks and excellent walking boots, the paths up here are kin hard😢 and 6 and 3/4 miles takes it toll!

On arrival home I rewarded my achievement by making an Organic  Chocolate Cherry Cake, mainly to use up the jar of Cherries in Kirsch I got for Christmas that no one ate!!! I have been on a diet for two weeks, a brutal regime with just one cake a day plus 3 meals obviously though Bran Flakes for Breakfast and a Wrap for lunch is keeping me hungry.I  have stuck rigidly to it so far, I'm down from 14/4/2 to14/1/6 in the first week hopefully tomorrows weigh in will reward my efforts even more, which have included hitting the Gym 3 times in my Lunch hour in the two weeks, I say hit the Gym, it's basically 20 mins on the exercise bike we have at work!! But it got me out of breath, on the other days I have done my usual 2 mile walk so hopefully the cake won't undo all me good work!!

Tasty as well!!!!