Trip reports

Mid-week Walk at RSPB Pulborough Brooks

Mid-week Walk at RSPB Pulborough Brooks
Peter Hambrook

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Weather: Sunny at first, heavy showers later. 14C

Some thirteen of us visited this reserve so there were plenty of pairs of eyes searching for birds. As I parked my car, chiffchaffs and a song thrush were making their presence heard, along with the usual robins, wrens etc. Having received a briefing from the ladies on Reception, we gathered just outside to scan the reserve from the viewing point where a cuckoo was calling fairly distantly from our left but remained hidden and several lapwings were displaying out on the Brooks.

The upper levels of the reserve were unusually quiet apart from the house sparrows, feral pigeons and white doves, so we made our way down the zig-zag, which also failed to produce the usual blackcaps. From about halfway down we could hear the distinctive song of a nightingale coming from the Fattengates area. This was tracked down to the courtyard  near the shelter and the bird eventually showed itself quite low down in a willow, allowing everyone a good view through telescopes and even binoculars. Several swifts were flying around the tops of the nearby tall oaks while just outside Fattengates a willow warbler was singing well and was eventually spotted at the top of a bush above our heads, while a nuthatch was seen in the oaks here.

As usual, we decided to do a clock-wise circuit of the main reserve so the next stop was at the West Mead hide where there was quite a bit of activity. A pair of Egyptian geese was escorting their young brood to areas where they could feed and the male was driving away even non-threatening species like a male gadwall and a pair of shelducks to clear the area for them. Not considered a threat were a couple of common sandpipers, a redshank and a pied wagtail.

Next up was the Winpenny hide which was fairly quiet but produced a reed bunting, several distant buzzards, a kestrel, a pair of swans, a little egret and a wader which looked like a curlew but was too far away to be certain. Rooks and jackdaws were busy in the fields inside the circuit and en route to 'Adder Alley' we had a brief glimpse of a red kite passing over. A second nightingale was singing here but quite distantly, so we moved on to the Hanger Viewpoint. Out on the Brooks we could see swallows, sand martins and house martins hunting over the water, numerous teal, a single female wigeon, a couple of avocets, a black-tailed godwit and a black-winged stilt, while a whitethroat sang from the bushes below the viewpoint and linnets and long-tailed tits moved amongst them. A blackcap also started singing and eventually showed itself a short distance away. We then heard some of the regulars say that the whimbrels had arrived, and sure enough three of them were sharing a pool with some black-headed gulls.

By this time the shower clouds were starting to look threatening - time to head for Nettley's hide, which we reached just as the rain started. This hide didn't provide anything that was new, so as it was lunchtime, those of us with sandwiches decided it was time to tuck-in, while those without waited for the rain to stop and headed back to the Visitor Centre. As the weather was showing no sign of improving, we abandoned any thought of after-lunch activity and headed for home after a very rewarding visit.