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From the Clifftop to Hastings

Yesterday, I walked through Hastings Country Park NR to The Stade, noting 5 Yellowhammers, 3 Siskins, 30 Linnets, a singing Greenfinch and a singing Firecrest [usual part of Barley lane by the camping field]

Down at the harbour were 7 Turnstones, and a few Gannets, auks and Divers passing. I was surprised to see a number of Herring Gulls dropping Whelk shells on the beach or hard surfaces; dropping of Mussels or Cockles is common, but this was new to me. As far as I could see these were all empty shells discarded by fishermen, you can see this in the photo. According to Tinbergen ["The Herring Gulls World"] these birds are stimulated to drop any hard apparent prey items they find on suitable surfaces, they did this repeatedly , but got nothing out of it .

The bird in the background has rings, probably indicating a stay at Mallydams.


From the Clifftop

The recent improvement in the weather [though still too cold at night for the moth trap] has coincided with a reduction in seabird activity, with far fewer auks, divers and gannets passing . Prior to this, 334 auks past in one hour on Feb 12 was the highest count this winter .Yesterday in the late afternoon 25 Black-headed Gulls moved east, perhaps going to Rye Harbour, as did 6 Kittiwakes.

After being absent since October, Greenfinches have started to turn up here again.


East Guldeford Levels

At last, a change in the weather yesterday after days of storm and rain [and lots of rather unproductive seawatching]. It was calm and bright, ideal for a walk round the frosty levels.

As has become the norm, the first part of the circular walk was very quiet, just 2 Ravens and 3 Buzzards. However, once again the stubble field SE of Moneypenny was full of birds, notably at least 230 Corn Buntings, a record count. Also here were 40 Tree Sparrows, 50 Reed Buntings and 50 Skylarks. Nearby on the grazing marsh, another record count-123 Curlews, also my first 3 Mediterranean Gulls of the spring. A Little Egret was my first here for some time. A very productive walk.


rye harbour sightings

Highlight yesterday on the Friends Winter Birds walk was a bittern seen briefly in flight at the northern end of Castle Water (the first one I have seen this winter). Apart from that, the highlights were one or two great white egret, marsh harrier and a very obliging buzzard on a fence post! We ended at the viewpoint at dusk and added water rail, Cetti's warbler and fieldfare (a flock of around 10) to the days list. Elsewhere, the two black-necked grebe were still on Long Pit, while up to two kingfisher continue to frequent Nook drain to the west of the caravan park.

Mid-morning update - Three twite still on Flat Beach opposite the red-roofed hut


From the Clifftop

With this weeks Slow but Sure walk abandoned due to awful weather for the second week in a row [as was this week's Dungeness visit], there was nothing for it but  to do a long seawatch through the window.

This can be hard work if it's very windy, but today there was a movement of Brent Geese, with 355 east between 07.25 and 11.25 including two flocks of 100- ongoing  spring departure. Otherwise it was the usual species-56 Gannets, 65 auks, just 20 red-throated Divers and 15 Kittiwakes, these moving west as usual . A Grey Seal appeared briefly for the second time this week; 2 Porpoises, the first for almost a year , were on show a few days ago.