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A special thanks to Sussex Wildlife TrustFriends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve and Flag Ecology for their contribution to the funding of the new RX-wildlife website.

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Big Garden Birdwatch

The RSPB  Big Garden Birdwatch is underway this weekend,  a chance to contibute to what is described as the "Worlds largest wildlife survey"- see RSPB website.

We do this every year in our small Fairlight garden, and  the discipline of staring at the garden for an hour usually turns up something surprising. Yesterday, the first half was pretty quiet, although the sun shone brightly , but a flurry of activity in the last few minutes boosted the species total to 8, including a  beautiful pair of Nuthatches on our feeder-the first time we have seen any this winter.

Still time to have a go....


Rye Harbour

Just a few odds and sods to add form the past week and last few days. Castle Water provided some good highlights again with a Firecrest, regular Barn Owl and Bittern all at the viewpoint. Five Marsh Harriers (three males) have also again given fine aerial displays around the main pit, a count of 216 Shoveler was also of note. On the Beach Reserve the Lesser Yellowlegs has been present for much of the week and again today. Flat Beach has attracted plenty of wildfowl and waders with 250 Wigeon and 180 Dunlin being of note. The low water shore at day break during the week has made counting the Curlews much easier with the max count being 520. The pools near the barns have again attracted two Great White Egrets plus 6 Goldeneye, 18 Ruff and 300 Lapwing.


Winter Ducks

At Castle Water this morning there was lots of noisy duck activity, especially the Wigeon. But there was also a very quiet redhead Smew and Great White Egret.

Here are the sounds from this morning - this recording starts with a loud Coot that was so close you can hear it diving. A background of Teal calling and the louder whistling of Wigeon. In the background the Cormorants are starting to display on their treetop nests with a deep gutteral call. Then the Wigeon get very excited as they try to impress a spare female.

Yesterday the Lesser Yellowlegs was still present, but elusive in the western most field of Rye Harbour Farm.


Farmland Birds

Yesterday I did one of my regular walks, from Winchelsea to Snailham Wood, through the Brede Valley. This is usually not great for birds, but flat and not too muddy. Just below Winchelsea is an extensive area of stubble, while below Snailham wood lies a small, weedy market garden area; both can hold farmland birds.

Totals yesterday [Winchelsea/Snailham ] were: Yellowhammer 26/4, Reed Bunting 10/6, Chaffinch 50/0, Skylark 20/12 and Linnet 0/2.  No Corn Buntings.

This is a very good count of Yellowhammers, there were 25 below Winchelsea at the end of 2014 also.

 In order to count birds in stubble properly it is necessary to walk through and put them up, at Winchelsea the footpath just borders the stubble so there could well be more birds, but at Snailham a low flying Buzzard did the job.

Between these two interesting areas lies lots of well drained grassland with, yesterday, few birds-no Lapwings, just a few winter thrushes including some singing Redwings, and a Cettis Warbler; as usual Buzzards were much in evidence-at least 4. 400 Common Gulls were in wet arable fields just below Winchelsea.


Dungeness and East Guldeford Levels

Today I intended to search parts of EGL I don't normally visit, for Corn Buntings. Dismayed by heavy, settling sleet first thing, I decided to go and sit in the Hanson Hide at the Dungeness ARC Pit, to look for Bitterns, another brown bird I haven't seen for some time.

Walking to the hide I heard, and then saw well, a Firecrest. Once inside, inspection of the reed edge opposite revealed first one, and then another Bittern wading about, great views through the scope despite the heavy sleet. A Great White Egret was there too, and no less than 3 Kingfishers sped in front of the hide, one perching just 5m away. Also visible from this hide were several Goldeneye, a redhead Smew and a redhead Goosander. Not bad at all, but as the weather eventually improved, I left to visit the Levels, stopping at Scotney GP where the regular 2 [sometimes 3] Black necked Grebes were on view, in Kent this time.

At the Levels, a long circular walk failed to turn up any Corn Buntings [or  Tree Sparrows] and there were just a few Skylarks, but I did see my first RX Linnets of the year-20-near the windfarm. In a hedge beside the Kent Ditch  were 14 Song Thrushes, but no "winter thrushes "; 45 Stock Doves were on the fields.  Other birds of interest were a pair of Stonechats, 3 Little Egrets, 3 Marsh Harriers, 800 Lapwings and 250 Golden Plovers, and, just as the sleet started again, a Tree Creeper in ditchside willows near Moneypenny.