Trip reports

Wednesday Walk: Rottingdean to Ovingdean and Back

Female house sparrow perched on dead branch

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

On a fine December morning, ten members of our group set off westwards from Rottingdean along the undercliff walk. The short stroll from the car park had shown us starling, wood pigeon, carrion crow and jackdaw, and as we prepared to start the walk proper, we were joined on the promenade by rock pipit and pied wagtail.

We soon added herring gull, black-headed gull, common gull and lesser black-backed gull to our list. As we approached Ovingdean we saw curlew and oystercatcher and several little egrets. We failed to see a grey heron, and it is now commonplace on several of our local patches for the little egrets (relative newcomers) to outnumber the grey herons.

At Ovingdean, any disappointment that the cafe was closed was mitigated by the sight of a pair of ravens flying around the cliff top. By now a stiff south easterly breeze, together with the incoming tide, had reduced the visible beach area. A tight group of oystercatchers lay on the sand, with beaks pointing into the wind, rather like weathervanes.

As we walked back somebody mentioned that we had failed to spot any cormorants, but a couple of minutes later somebody shouted "cormorant". Two large birds flew past us, fast and low over the water, but the low sun and spray on the sea challenged our identification skills. Someone suggested that they were shag, based on their low flight. But someone else had seen white markings diagnostic of Brent geese, and this became the consensus of the sighting.

House sparrow (pictured) brought our final species list to 16, and we then adjourned to the carvery at Peacehaven for a large xmas lunch, plates piled impossibly high with multitudes of vegetables.


Ian Muldoon