Waltham Brooks and Adur Estuary

A later than planned start this morning meant that by the time I arrived at Pulborough Brooks at 6.30 there were already a lot of birders on site, and with a desire for a bit of novelty I diverted to Waltham Brooks. While it is always nice to stop and chat to fellow local birders, for me the greatest pleasures from bird watching are felt when there's a sense of excitement stemming from the unknown. Oftentimes at Pulborough it feels like every blade of grass has been scoured and there's nothing left to discover, particularly at such an ornithologically interesting time of the year when all four corners of the brooks are under constant surveillance by keen birders. Today I needed some adventure.

The heavy rain had just stopped when I reached Waltham Brooks and a thin layer of patchy mist lingered. A Little Grebe could just about be made out on the water, reminding me of the changing of the guard here now that the water levels are up and the waders have cleared out. For half an hour the mist made for tricky bird watching, but the sun came out and its warm rays went to work on evaporating it, warming me up in the process. I paused near some scrub where a passerine flock of Goldfinches, tits and warblers were busy finding breakfast. For some reason I had a fixation with finding a Wryneck today, and every raising of my bins was filled with a hope that this might be it. Fanciful of course, but I did have a long night. It was perhaps inevitable then that I would be left somewhat disappointed with the ornithological yield at Waltham Brooks today, but there were long passages of the trip when I just enjoyed being out and attentive to my surroundings and with the thought that anything could turn up. I wondered about Osprey and in fact one did turn up at Pulborough later today providing just rewards to those willing to spend the whole day there.

Swallows provided some joy as they came in low over the grass catching insects. Whitethroats were omnipresent and a couple of Sedge Warblers were quite showy at a distance, but surprisingly given the number of migrants that had turned up at other inland sites today there were no migrant chats, Wheatears or Flycatchers around, not that I could detect anyway. There certainly wasn't a Wryneck. A flock of 6 Lapwings were flushed on the Amberley side which was nice to see as I've not seen any over there for a while. Their numbers will start to build now which is a comforting thought as the seasons turn.

As I reached Greatham Bridge a flock of waders could be seen over Widney Brooks. They were far too distant for me to identify, but I suspected Snipe. Two passerine birds provided a bit of interest around here as they were flushed from the grass and then proved elusive. I think they may have been Meadow Pipits. A backlit chat perched up in a tree  was tricky to ID and I'm guessing it was a Stonechat. The patterning on the wings recalled Whinchat but there wasn't a broad eyestripe and I settled on it being a young Stonechat in a fresh plumage. A few House Martins were noted hereabouts too.

After a good three hours ambling around I managed to clock up 43 species, and I suspect there was also Garden Warbler and Sand Martin to add too, but I couldn't nail the IDs. After a final scan for a Wryneck I went off to the car.

Later in the day, following a trip to Brighton, I stopped off at the River Adur near Shoreham, opposite the airport. The weather was terrible. There were a lot of gulls about, Herring Gulls in the main but plenty of Black-headed Gulls and a few Great Black-backed Gulls too. I wished the weather was good enough to study them because there were a fair amount of young birds showing lots of plumage variation. A flock of about 50 Ringed Plover along with a few Dunlin were feeding on the intertidal mud, despite the bait diggers close by.

With the rain persistent I set off for home.

River Arun at Coldwaltham

Mute Swans


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