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East Guldeford Levels

I've previously spent quite a bit of time on these levels, doing fieldwork for both bird and plant atlasses, but today was my first visit since last winter.

This is a huge open landscape, dominated by the wind turbines just over the border in Kent, a mixture of arable reversion, lowland wet grassland and stubble. Having found good numbers [by current standards] of farmland birds previously, I was keen to find some today.

This is a regular site for Tree Sparrows, and I immediately saw 3, with a further 5 at least out by the turbines. There were several groups of Skylarks, totalling at least 30, but Corn Buntings remained elusive for the first couple of hours, until I eventually found 15 on the edge of a stubble field.  Otherwise, a single Yellowhammer, a couple of Stonechats, a Raven, calling noisily from a fence post, a hunting Marsh Harrier, a couple of Sparrowhawks, a Green Sandpiper and a Little Egret.


Rye Harbour

The warm sunny conditions brought into the open some off our more skulking inhabitants at Castle Water this morning. Bittern, groups of Bearded Tit, Cetti's Warbler and Water Rail all gave excellent views from the viewpoint. In addition at least three Firecrest were present, two birds amongst the group of the flooded willows along the footpath north of the viewpoint, and another was with a roving tit flock in the scrubby area around the viewpoint. From the hide good numbers of Gadwall, Shoveler, Teal, Mallard and Wigeon were present, the plumage on the drakes looking particularly splendid in the winter sunshine. Marsh Harrier and several groups of Snipe also showed well from the hide. On the Beach Reserve flat beach flood continues to be the birding hot spot. At least 300 wigeon and 130 Teal have been present on the flood for most of the day recently, other roosting and feeding birds have included Golden Plover, Lapwing, Curlew, Dunlin, knot, Snipe and of course the usual gang of Little Egrets. Additional highlights yesterday were Merlin and 22 Greenfinch along shore ridges, Green Sandpiper, 60 Linnet, 45 Goldfinch and 50+ Skylark on Harbour Farm.


Late Swallows

Three Swallows flying NORTH (!) this afternoon near Rye Harbour village.



The website of the Sussex Ornithological Society had this report yesterday. "The COMMON CRANE was still present at the west end of Scotney Gravel Pits late morning. Viewed from the road it was left of the wind turbines in a green patch behind the stubble field." It had also been reported there on 9th.


Ash dieback is now a fact of life – what now?

I believe that Ash dieback has been found in the RX area, so Tony Whitbread's recent comments here are particularly relevant.