Hails View and Amberley Wildbrooks

I managed to dodge the worst of the rain today and had an excellent day's birdwatching. Starting at Hail's View about 10am after the early rain I spotted a large white bird briefly over the other side of the river at Greatham, but due to the high banks it wasn't until a little while later that I spotted the long neck and large yellow bill of a Great White Egret, first spotted by Matt on the north brooks yesterday. There was quite a bit on the move with a group of 6 Mandarin, my first for a while, 10 Pintail, 2 Gadwall, 40 Lapwing, and a few Snipe. A group of 5 Siskin were in a tree with the regular large flock of Goldfinch, and a few Meadow Pipits were overhead. A single Mediterranean Gull was amongst a flock of Black-headed Gulls and a juvenile Hobby appeared perched in a tree. A female Sparrowhawk was perched up on a post and distantly there may have been a Merlin too, but it was too distant to ID.

Juvenile Hobby

In the afternoon after a quick lunch I spent four and half hours around Amberley Wildbrooks, stopping for about half an hour to avoid a rain shower. There's now a lot of water around, and on the flooded field under the castle there were a lot of Pied Wagtails, one of which sounding quite similar to the Yellow-browed Warbler call, and given the reports of them around Sussex I couldn't help but get my hopes up today! A Wheatear was in the same field along with a few Stonechats. The river is very high now following the rain. Not quite at the levels seen during last winter's floods, but it's getting close! Presumably the high water was the cause of a Common Seal (which I erroneously referred to as a Grey Seal on twitter) seen swimming downstream.

Common Seal

A few Blackcaps were around, males and females, some calling Chiffchaffs, and Meadow Pipit calls were a constant present. A Kingfisher (or maybe two) was seen frequently around the river and along the gutters. A few House Martins and Swallows were hawking. Out on the brooks there were hundreds of Black-headed Gulls, 2 Marsh Harriers, 3 Wheatears by the abattoir, and a Barn Owl was out hunting early, a sign that conditions were difficult for hunting in the storm last night. Further along there was a lot of Meadow Pipits and Linnets, and amongst them were 7 Stonechats and 3 Whinchats. A few Snipe were flushed making their presence known by their call and proving difficult to see, and a Green Sandpiper was also heard calling.







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