Shaun, Alan, Al and Sue met at Toot Rock, Pett in bright sunshine. Shaun and Alan saw a peregrine at Cliff End; Sue and Al had been slightly delayed by the spectacle of many warblers in berry-laden hawthorns and brambles near the sewage farm , where lots of blackcaps and chiffchaffs, with a few whitethroats, were feasting.
Setting out from Toot Rock, we again saw many chiffchaffs, a fieldfare, and a jay, and heard the first of several redpolls and siskins flying over. A small flock of meadow pipits was also seen from here. A young common buzzard was calling from the trees on the old cliff line, and soon we saw it flying with another buzzard, previously seen perched on a gate post. There were probably four of these birds seen during the course of the walk.
It’s a good walk out to Pannel Valley from the Pett end, but we were rewarded with some nice birds, including three kestrels, a hobby, several Cetti’s warblers, reed buntings and swallows. More siskins and redpolls were heard, as was a very brief song from a skylark. Alan saw a kingfisher as we approached the screen hide – sadly, the reeds completely block any view from it now.
We were glad to reach the main hide at Pannel for a chance to sit and eat our lunch. There were few birds here, other than teal, a few shoveler, and mallards, though we did see one greylag goose and a stonechat or two. But things got better when a buzzard perched on the roof of the hide opposite, from which it made a few forays before returning several times. Best of all, a hobby made repeated passes in front of the hide, giving us really good views. A marsh harrier, obviously hunting, appeared several times, too.
The two other hides produced little of note, save for a couple of very handsome stags which appeared before vanishing again into the reeds. Had they escaped from the main herds? We shall never know.
It seemed a very long walk back to the cars, (though two male stonechats showed well) so once there, we decided to drive back to Pett and try a sea watch again, as by now the tide was on the way out. Little egrets were seen, and many oystercatchers, but Shaun found bird of the day – a razorbill. Further scanning produced some Sandwich terns, and Al picked out a greater black backed gull from the many gulls on the shore.
Our combined total number of birds seen was 66.