Pett Level and Pannel Valley – 26/09/15

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.

Rye Harbour – 22nd August 2015

Only five of us turned up for this event – Alan N, Alan and Maureen, Bob P and Sue P. It looked promising, with bright sunshine – though unfortunately the temperature rose steadily as the morning went on, meaning that we’d all had enough by lunchtime!

Most of the best sightings were from the first hide, where we could see dunlin, ringed plovers, juvenile pied wagtails and ditto wheatears. Mipits, oystercatchers, avocets, common and Sandwich terns were added to the list; from the middle hides we also saw kestrel, sparrowhawk, grey partridge, swift and sand martin (these the more notable species), whilst on the walk back we were very pleased to have excellent views of yellow wagtails.

Bob took the photographs that accompany this brief report.

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Broadwater Warren – 25-07-15

Shaun, Alan and Maureen, Martin and Carol, Bob and Judy, Bob H and Sue, and Bob P and Sue P met Alan Loweth, who had very kindly agreed to lead us on a guided tour of the Reserve. Alan was an excellent guide, being both expert and enthusiastic. It was interesting to hear of the continuing restoration work which has so transformed the area, which now consists of approximately 450 acres split almost fifty/fifty between woodland and heathland, having previously been largely given over to conifer forest.

Alan explained that there were approximately 50+ dormice resident in the Warren, which make use of some of the many dormice boxes provided, and that the Warren was the only U.K. reserve with such a number.

We had hoped to see adders and grass snakes, but despite Alan checking nearly all the refuges, none were seen.
It wasn’t an ideal day or time of year for birds, but avian highlights were buzzard, kestrel, treecreeper, stonechat, whitethroat, goldfinch, goldcrest, chiffchaff carrying food, grey wagtail and spotted flycatcher. The restored heathland provides ideal conditions for, e.g., nightjars, wood larks and tree pipits.

There were plenty of butterflies about, including green veined white, silver washed fritillary, small blue, red admiral, gatekeeper, small copper, speckled wood, and many meadow browns. Other interesting insect species noted included a spider with its funnel web, a long horned beetle believed to be Strangalia maculata, and a handsome Dor beetle. Dragonflies seen included a fine male Emperor.

Another interesting area once entirely hidden by rhododendron is an old sandstone quarry. The apparent rock face is in fact now just sand; it does offer the possibility of a sand martin bank in the future, once further tree felling and clearance has taken place.

Many thanks to Alan for sharing his time and knowledge so generously.

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Bird Group Outing to Pulborough Brooks RSPB on 12th April 2015

Seven members set off at 9:30AM on a bright sunny but breezy day with previousnightingalely reported Scarce (Yellow Legged)Tortoiseshell butterfly and Nightingales being high on the “to look for” list.

The rare butterfly was not reported that day, but Peacock, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral and Brimstone were seen. Some of the party only stayed until lunch time, and up to that point the Nightingales Continue reading

SOS Bird Race 2015

There’s still time if anyone is interested in getting a team together for the annual SOS Bird Race. The Race is to get as many species of bird in one day and raise money through sponsorship, all in the name of charity of course! Teams can pick any day from 1st January to 11th January 2015. Monies raised go to the SOS.

If you are interested please contact Val Bentley on [email protected] or ring Continue reading

Bird Group Outing to Dungeness RSPB – 6th Dec 2014

On a bright, sunny, but crisp morning, Sue, Martin, Bob, Judy, Maureen, Alan, Jeremy, Deidre and Al met at the visitor centre.

Sue, Martin and Al had already seen nuthatch, feral pigeon, goldfinch, blackbird, collared dove, starling, black headed gullpheasantcarrion crowredshank (in Rye), curlew (Camber golf club) and jackdaw along the way and prior to our arrival at the reserve, we had all Continue reading

Tawny Owls Being Killed on Ashdown Forest Roads

It has been reported (East Grinstead Courier, 30/09/14) that at least 10 Tawny Owls have been killed on the roads around Ashdown Forest in the last 6 weeks alone. The East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) sent out a plea to motorists to slow down at night after having to deal with and care for the Owls at the road side. It is a sad fact that a lot of our wildlife gets maimed or Continue reading

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…

Ashdown Wildlife Facebook Group

For anyone wishing to post or find sightings, pictures or general Forest-related information please visit and join our new Facebook group Ashdown Forest Wildlife (

It is an open group so anyone can join and post and openly discuss the wildlife of Ashdown Forest. We ask you to please be polite, posts be relevant to Ashdown Forest and to refrain from Continue reading