Waltham Brooks and Amberley Wildbrooks

I thought I'd take advantage of still being off work by getting out early for some birdwatching. Conditions weren't brilliant, it was fairly blowy and I was unlucky to be beaten to Waltham Brooks by the walkers of unruly dogs. The water here was pretty quiet, just some ducks, a few Shoveler amongst them. A raptor glided over which had me a bit stumped, but with hindsight I'm pretty sure it was a Marsh Harrier, having seen a bird later on gliding low over Amberley. Aside from that there wasn't much else to note this morning.

In the afternoon I went to Amberley, and it appeared to be turning out much the same as this morning; it was quite blustery and there was an ever-present threat of rain, although not cold. Along the straight up to the wet wood looking out over the eastern side of the reserve I spotted a distant Marsh Harrier and then a Red Kite. From behind me I made out some calls quite distantly and then saw a group of birds low amongst some cattle. I was pretty certain they were Yellow Wagtails, but they were too distant at this point to see well. I could tell there was a reasonable number of them. By a stroke of luck a different herd of cattle had moved closer to me and a group of at least 20 birds came noisily over my head and landed about 10 metres in front of me. They were now beyond doubt Yellow Wagtails and I watched as they fed around the mouths of the cows, which I assume provides a source of food when these large herbivores tear out the grass from the ground. After a few minutes another flock of a similar size arrived, so I'm sure there were at least 40 birds in the whole flock. They were much easier to count in the air than on the ground!

Heading back I spotted at least 3 Whinchats along with a couple of Stonechats, and had a quick chat to a guy from the EA who had been busy digging out the weeds from the gutters while I was there.

Yellow Wagtails



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