Trip reports

Burton Mill Pond and West Dean Woods, West Sussex, 17 February 2018

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

There was still a touch of mist over the pond near the car park, but we could just about make out the mallards, tufted ducks, coots, occasional pochard and gadwall, little grebes and great crested grebes. Singles of buzzard and heron flew over and a couple of Canada geese flew in. Some of the early arrivals had a small flock of siskin and a lesser redpoll and at least one siskin reappeared. Several other siskins and a redpoll were heard as we walked round. As we approached the reserve entrance we were listening and looking out for one of our targets. firecrests have been recorded there on many of our visits here, but unfortunately although we logged several goldcrests there were no definite sightings of the firecrest. One that got away! Other birds here and just into the reserve included about 6 marsh tits, treecreeper, coal tit, great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch and green woodpecker. A stop by the small farm pond and adjacent field added rook, 2 stock doves, 1 bullfinch, 1 Egyptian goose and a few greylags. Raptors here came in the form of a red kite and 2 kestrels. At the second main pond we added a single little egret and couple of moorhens and a few black-headed gulls.
Back near the entrance a sparrowhawk flew over and we had another fruitless search for the crest. A quick check of the main pond after lunch added a single cormorant.

We then drove over to West Dean parking by Staple Ash Farm and walked up the track to the viewpoint where we stayed for some time. A few greenfinches were found around the buildings at the start of the walk. The birds on the way up included several bramblings in with chaffinches, more great spotted woodpeckers, nuthatches, coal tits and goldcrests. While waiting at the viewpoint we could hear jays from at least two different locations. The raptors were showing well with at least 8 buzzards in the air together, a couple perched up and others elsewhere. A minimum of 15 birds and probably more. On top of that there were at least 4 red kites here. Two of us simultaneously heard a harsh 'tic' call and both of us immediately decided it was a hawfinch; sadly we didn't see the bird. Later on 6 'chunky' birds were flying around the distant trees! They remained unidentified. We had better luck with the redwings that flew into a tree allowing them to be identified. One lucky member of the Group picked up on a couple of Ravens flying together just before they went down behind the tree line.
Based on a report provided by John Birkett.