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Wood Sandpiper on the Cuckmere

... is how the Collins Bird Guide describes the flight call of the Wood Sandpiper. It sounds far less like a Chiffchaff than the phonetic description implies, but other than that it's not far off. These simple notes rang out from above me as I walked along the lower Cuckmere this morning. And again a few minutes later. I just couldn't get eyes on the bird but suspected I would before long, as the bird was probably being inadvertently pushed around by walkers and kayakers, rather than migrating over in broad daylight.

juvenile Wood Sandpiper
From Finland (or thereabouts!) to the South Downs: juvenile Wood Sandpiper

Sure enough, a little further along, a suitably sized wader dropped down in front of me, revealing a pleasingly lightly barred underwing and tail as it settled. Despite surely clocking me on its descent, the Wood Sandpiper landed really quite close, allowing me a really good look at what might be my favourite wader. With its evenly pristine plumage, it was clearly this year's young, only a few weeks out of its Fennoscandian nest.

While this bird was enjoying the meanders, the straightened section of the Cuckmere had a Green Sandpiper and three Common Sandpipers feeding along its muddy edge. Another exciting moment was provided by a Sparrowhawk which tried to seize a Meadow Pipit but the smaller bird pulled some nifty manoeuvres and got away.


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