Bird Group Outing To Hope Gap And Arlington Reservoir – 07-09-14

Alan and Maureen, Shaun, Alan N, Martin J, Chris M, Jeremy, Deirdre and Sue met at the Barn CP on a warm and windless morning, and headed down towards the Gap. The scrub on either side of the path held many whitethroats, a redstart, a goldcrest, willow warblers, lots of chiffchaffs, blackcap and the other usual suspects. A sparrowhawk provided good views overhead. We found a wheatear on the cliff edge, but missed out on whinchat and stonechat. Rock pipit was conspicuous by its absence, though we did hear and see meadow pipits later in the morning.

There were few birds offshore, though a couple of fulmars glided past; a lone duck gave distant views, and our best guestimate was that it was a scaup. Little egret, oystercatcher, herring gulls and cormorants were seen, and a tern was heard calling offshore as we walked up the hill towards Cuckmere Haven. More little egrets were seen as we scanned the Haven, but it took us a while to find a buzzard. A kestrel flew over as we walked on.

By now it was very warm, and lunchtime seemed overdue. Chris M had to leave us here, with chauffeur duties calling. After sandwiches and coffee, the rest of us made a brief foray up towards what had been the dung heap, and heard and saw yellow wagtails overflying. There were more linnets here, and we did see and hear a lone skylark. A weasel was patrolling the track in search of a meal. Fortunately, a spotted flycatcher was seen on the top of the adjoining hedgerow, and we all had good views of it. Three wheatears (at least) were on the field edge.

It was agreed that rather than joining the throngs of twitchers at Shooters Bottom, we would have a stroll round Arlington Reservoir. This enabled us to increase our bird list – though coot remained absent, as did pheasant – with black headed gulls, lesser and greater black backed gulls, moorhen, three common sandpipers, Canada and Egyptian Geese. The only ducks we found were mallard and teal, but there were the usual great crested grebes on the water. At the farm, there were large numbers of swallows and house martins landing on the telephone wires and a pine tree before whirling round again. We did have close views of juvenile house martins, begging for food, which was very pleasing. A grey wagtail was on the roof of the house, and a few more were heard calling. There were the usual house sparrows here, too. Two common sandpipers were on the dam edge, and a few pied wagtails. (The best view we had of common sandpiper was the one on the opposite edge of the reservoir as we headed back). Green and great spotted woodpecker were heard, and a jay was seen foraging on the ground near the woodland.

The total number of species seen/heard was 57 – not bad for a busy Sunday!

Thanks to those gallant men carrying the telescopes, and to one and all for finding the birds. Shame about that seal, though…

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