Ambersham Common

Eager to find myself a Dartford Warbler or Redpoll after failing at Old Lodge, I had a look through the The Sussex Bird Report 2018 for other potential breeding sites. Lavington Common was mentioned for Darftord Warbler, but I visited there last week and wasn't succesful, although it was windy. Ambersham Common was mentioned for Redpoll. I had seen this place mentioned occasionally on bird reports, so checked it out on the map and it looked interesting, particular as it was a bit out of the way and not an SWT or NT site, meaning it might be less busy. After searching SOS and seeing mixed reviews, I decided to give it a go anyway. It turned out to be an excellent trip on a warm summer evening. When I arrived it was pleasing to see just a single car parked and not many more about. Stonechats were perched up here and there and a new Linnet family were chattering in a tree. I walked a bit further and a Woodlark sang briefly. Fantastic! The trip was worth it just for that sound. I carried on and heard a Nightjar sing momentarily, a surprise to hear at 5pm, it being a nocturnal species. A little further along, a Whitethroat-type song burst out from the heath to my left, although it was perhaps much clearer, deliberate and a bit louder than Whitethroat. I immediately thought it was a Dartford Warbler, and as I repositioned myself for better views it flew up into a tree. From the initial glimpse I got of its plumage colours I thought it might be a Redstart. However, I soon got good enough views to confirm it as a Dartford Warbler. What a wonderful trip I was having already and I'd only been here half an hour. I moved on and heard at least 3 Willow Warblers around this area. Heading away still through some mixed woodland, I inadvertently stumbled across a Spotted Flycatcher, having set my bins up to a Robin that had perched up in the distance. On the loop back across the common, 2 Hobbies came over noisly, with one coming tumbling down low into the scrub, perhaps chasing a dragonfly. Finally, as I stood chatting to Josh, who was arrving for the Nightjars as I was leaving, a Tree Pipit started to sing, and I'm pretty sure there was more than one. I left Josh to what I'm sure was a great evening birdwatching. My trip to Ambersham Common was certainly memorable.

Dartford Warbler

Spotted Flycatcher

Stonechat

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