Amberley Wildbrooks, Hail's View and Pulborough Brooks

I was eager to get back to Amberley after the heavy rain last week, but it's been a busy couple of weeks where I've not been able to out as much as I'd have liked. It's remarkable how quickly the landscape changes after a significant amount of rain, and the configuration of bird species changes accordingly. I didn't cover as much of the reserve as I'd have liked because there were big fallow bucks wandering around all over the place mid-rut and I didn't fancy getting spiked by a huge antler. Hundreds of Black-headed Gulls were around the reserve, I estimated 300 but I suspect that's a big underestimate. There were a few Wigeon on the flooded field under the castle along with 6 Gadwall and some Canada Geese. A Great White Egret was patrolling the ditch just beyond them and a Kingfisher was seen. On the Nyetimber side a Merlin was perched on a fence post by the ditch that flows into Middle Gutter. At Ham Corner a few more Wigeon were on the river. I stood and watched at the edge of the wet wood and around me Water Rails were calling, I estimated four were almost at my feet with two of them actually seen very close. A Marsh Harrier was making the gulls and c60 Lapwing nervous, and calling Snipe were darting haphazardly through the air above me. I struggled with the passerine movement overhead this morning but Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails and the odd Skylark were evident. At least 6 Stonechats were noted about the place. 

Fallow buck

Wigeon

Cobwebs draped over the grass. This was seen all over the reserve this morning. 

I popped to Hail's View this evening hopeful for a Short-eared Owl. Initially the only bird of interest was a Marsh Harrier, but then I spotted three ducks very distant on the mid brooks which were appearing to sit much lower down in the water than the the other ducks. They appeared to be diving and had the right shape for Goldeneye. I sent a message to Matt who had just arrived at the VC and was able to confirm the sighting. A Pochard was accomanying them. It's the right time of year for Goldeneye to turn up, and this would be a fantastic record for Pulborough, but alas my excitement was subdued by the story from Ed, relayed by Matt, that these birds were likely the same three seen in Surrey recently that probably escaped from a Garden Centre. 

Goldeneye

I headed over to the main reserve to catch up with Matt and as I entered the VC garden I saw a Robin pinning down the head of another Robin and pecking at it. I paused and watched. The bird underneath wasn't moving. The aggressor eventually dismounted and the other Robin appeared dead. It didn't move when I prodded it, so it appears that it was killed by the other one. Robins are notorious for being fiercely territorial and apparently this behaviour has been observed before. 

Robin

Robin

Pulborough Brooks

Pulborough Brooks from VC


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