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Summer ducks

I met Lois and James on a sunny Arundel morning for a three-hour introduction to birdwatching. After getting kitted out with binoculars, we studied the different waterbirds out on Swanbourne Lake. There were Coots, with their strange lobed feet, and Mallards looking for offerings from visitors. Their shyer cousins, Gadwall, which were dabbling on the far side, could be picked out from a distance by their diagnostic white wing flash, or speculum.


Meanwhile, the first diving duck of the day - Tufted Duck - was added to our list as a drake and a female bobbed up and down just feet away from us.

Tufted Ducks. Sussex guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Tufted Ducks

As we started walking along the shore, a 'pink-pink!' call alerted us to a Chaffinch and we heard Wrens and Robins calling lower down.


Scanning the water at the next viewpoint, we picked out a pair of Pochards, a fishing Cormorant, a family of Little Grebes and a small flock of Mandarin Ducks creeping around the overhanging vegetation. Target species achieved!

Pochard. Sussex guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Pochard
Little Grebe. Sussex guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Little Grebe
Mandarin Ducks. Sussex guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Mandarin Ducks

Lois spotted an adult male Great Spotted Woodpecker out in a dead tree and soon afterwards we were marvelling at a flock of House Martins whizzing low as they hoovered up flying insects. Near the shallow end of the lake, a drake Teal followed in the wake of a female Mallard - the former being the sixth duck species of the morning!

House Martin. Sussex guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
House Martin

A flock of Goldfinches flew past and, as we started heading back along the other side of the lake, we noticed a Moorhen feeding young. A Green Woodpecker called somewhere nearby, but it didn't reveal itself. However, a juvenile Blackcap. Shortly afterwards, a Cetti's Warbler called and offered a lucky glimpse as it moved between the reeds, and Lois picked out a Sand Martin among the House Martins.

Moorhen chick. Sussex guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Moorhen chick
Blackcap. Sussex guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Blackcap

After enjoying even better views of Mandarin Duck, Little Grebe and Gadwall, we were back at the tearoom end of the lake, where two Egyptian Geese were enjoying the offerings from visitors.

Mandarin Duck. Sussex guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Mandarin Duck
Gadwall. Sussex guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Gadwall

With time to spare, we made reconvened at Burpham for some downland birding.


It was only a matter of seconds after we got out of the car that we were watching Red Kites and Buzzards in the sky. We took a short walk up the lane and back, the highlight being a charming group (or covey) of Grey Partridges which almost gave us the slip as they crossed the track behind us, while we were scanning the stubble for any distant ones!

Red Kite. Sussex guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Red Kite
Grey Partridge. Sussex guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Grey Partridge family!

We also enjoyed views of Chiffchaff and Linnet, while a large flock of House Sparrows fed and dust-bathed on the track and a Whitethroat hopped through the hedgerow. A flock of Jackdaws flew over and two Stock Doves appeared on some distant wires. We reflected on the amazing lifestyle of the Swift after seeing a small flock feeding high in the sky, which turned out to be a perfect end to the session.

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