Bee-eaters at Littledene

Bee-eater at Littledene, by Luke Dray

Bee-eater by Luke Dray

Huge congratulations to Tall Paul Stevens, who found five European Bee-eaters at Littledene, just West of Firle, this afternoon. I caught up with them just before 6pm, when 10 appeared over our heads before settling down around the trees at Preston House Farm.

We watched up to nine of them there for about an hour, settled on the branches and making sorties to catch bees, in the on-off evening sunshine. By 7pm, several Littledene locals and the first lot of visiting birders had seen them too, with many more connecting before the birds appeared to go to roost.

Ten Bee-eaters is exactly ten more than I’ve seen in Firle before, or for that matter in the UK. An extraordinary, unforgettable surprise.

Littledene to Stump Bottom

A walk on Saturday morning from Littledene to Stump Bottom, returning via Blackcap Farm, was productive despite the strong winds and occasional showers.

At Littledene there were 2 Red-legged Patridges and halfway up the escarpment a couple of  displaying Meadow Pipits, and the first of at least 18 singing Skylarks along the route.

Around the gorse at the top of the hill, a party of five Linnets, with a Chiffchaff and a Green Woodpecker calling from the valley below it.

Taking the footpath towards Denton, the area around the America Farm buildings was productive – a couple of partridges (species unknown) took off, there were five Stock Doves and a Corn Bunting flew over west – the only one all walk. A Buzzard cruised up the valley to the west.

The route across the open fields towards Denton was relatively birdless – more Skylarks, a few Herring Gulls and Pied Wagtails (migrants?) but little else. But dropping down into Stump Bottom, it got better – Dunnocks, Long-tailed Tits, and a Song Thrush and a resting Buzzard disturbed form the scrub. Moving along the path back towards Blackcap Farm there was party of six Linnets, a Goldfinch and a few Greenfinches , plus a second Chiffchaff.

At Blackcap Farm itself, a few Yellowhammers heard (the only ones on the whole walk) and some House Sparrows, and back to the escarpment above Firle, very little visible or making a noise in the strong NW wind, but six Buzzards up at once (five over Firle Plantation), and dropping back into Littledene, another Meadow Pipit displaying, a Stock Dove and a Jay.

Corn Bunting 1
Yellowhammer 2+
Skylark 18+ singing, plus 6 other birds
Meadow Pipit 3 territorial, plus c.10 others
Linnet 13
Chiffchaff 2
Red-legged Partridge 2+
Common Buzzard 6-8
Stock Dove 6+
Jay 1
Goldfinch
Greenfinch
Song Thrush
Blackbird
Woodpigeon
Chaffinch ++ (everywhere)
Robin
Dunnock
Rook
Carrion Crow
Long-tailed Tit
Great Tit
Blue Tit
House Sparrow 3+
Pied Wagtail c.6
Cormorant (flying over Glynde)
Mute Swans (seen near Ouse)
Magpie
Herring Gull

(29 species)