We spent half-term in Devon, leaving a still-snowy South Downs behind us for a (slightly) warmer West Country.
Arriving back a week ago, there were still traces of snow on the north face of the escarpment, but by Thursday it was T-shirt weather, with nature responding in suitably Spring-like fashion.
In my last blog post, just before the snow, I mentioned the lack of Snipe and Woodcock around Firle, despite the cold. The following day I flushed a snipe (of some sort) from the stream, and a couple of days after that Paul Stevens flushed a Woodcock from his garden. Since returning from Devon, I’ve had two definite Common Snipe along the stream – so there. Reverse jinx.
Firecrests were last heard near the Ram early in the New Year, but there was at least one (possibly three) in the Park today. It / one of them sang sporadically – something I’ve never heard in Firle before – as it darted around a Holm Oak.
On Thursday (23rd) our usual Green Sandpiper had linked up with another. They flew together over the Decoy Pond, before one returned to the stream. There was also a pair of Coot on the pond itself.
Teal numbers are back down from the giddy heights of 75+ during the cold to single figures – there were just two singletons this morning. A pair of Grey Wagtails flying over the Long Pond today were my first for a while though.
The Lambpool field was alive with feeding brids this morning – whether the 220+ Fieldfares, 30 or so Redwings and 45 Starlings are remnants from the cold weather movement or the usual late winter build-up I’m not sure. But with Chaffinches, Stock Doves and Skylarks all in full voice over the weekend, it certainly feels that things are shifting.
Birds beget birds in Glynde
The Great Grey Shrike continues its stay in Glynde, near the village, and it’s remarkable what else has been seen there by visiting birders.
As well as the Rough-legged Buzzard and Short-eared Owl reported a few weeks ago, recent additions have included ringtail Hen Harrier, Merlin, Jack Snipe and Pintail, all pretty unusual.
It’s the time of year when kites start to move about in Sussex, and I heard about a pair not far away (I’m being coy, just in case…) today, apparently hunting, not just soaring on through.
Meanwhile on the Sunshine Coast…
A string of interesting records from the lakes at Eastbourne led me, finally, to make a visit with the kids (I’ve often driven past, but never before stopped). We walked out onto West Rise Marsh, where a whole lot of ducks and gulls were gathered in the warm sunshine. Behind the Pintail, Wigeon, Shoveler, Tufties and Great-crested Grebes was the Black-necked Grebe.
In return for the children indulging me a spot of birding, we then backtracked to the playground nearby. This affords pretty good views out across the marsh, and a couple of quick sweeps with the binoculars caught a Bittern lolloping along the far side of the lake before disappearing into a banks of reeds.
This is without doubt the best bird I’ve ever seen while standing on vulcanised rubber.