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Where snipe swim

Tuesday's private Sussex Guided Bird Walk with Jennifer started with the sounds of Greenfinch and Nuthatch as we headed out from the visitor centre. Plenty of Blue Tits and Great Tits worked their way through the hedgerows, along with a couple of Coal Tits and a Great Spotted Woodpecker, which started drumming after it flew out of sight. The first Song Thrush of the day sang softly on the other side of the track.

Male Bullfinch. Sussex bird tours with South Downs Wildlife.
Male Bullfinch

We paused near the crossroads in hope of Bullfinches in the blackthorn, and that's exactly what showed up! A female was quietly feeding on buds just a few feet from us, and it wasn't long before more movement revealed a bright male just above her, and another female nearby. A real treat!


As we turned towards the first hide, a strikingly pale Buzzard flew over the fields. The hide itself was very productive, offering views of a feeding Snipe and plenty of Pintail, Teal and Wigeon, as well as more distant Shelduck and Shoveler. A Skylark started singing, even in the drizzly conditions.

Buzzard. Sussex bird tours with South Downs Wildlife.
Buzzard
Pintail. Sussex bird tours with South Downs Wildlife.
Drake Pintail
Snipe.  Sussex bird tours with South Downs Wildlife.
Snipe
Lapwing. Sussex bird tours with South Downs Wildlife.
Lapwing

Our favourite sighting from here, though, was pair of Stonechats busily feeding along the water's edge and making sorties to snatch insects from the water's surface. Pied Wagtails were doing the same, while Linnets and Meadow Pipits picked over the islands. Equally delightful were the Long-tailed Tits feeding along the fence line.

Pied Wagtail and Stonechat.  Sussex bird tours with South Downs Wildlife.
Pied Wagtail (left) and male Stonechat
Long-tailed Tit. Sussex bird tours with South Downs Wildlife.
Long-tailed Tit

A Marsh Harrier quartered over the marsh and disappeared towards the River Arun, only to be replaced by a Red Kite that deftly seized something from the water's surface. While inspecting a female Wigeon with unusual head markings, an immature Goshawk raised hot pursuit of a Teal in the distance -- we hadn't bargained for this addition to the day's birds of prey.


Moving on to the next hide, we had an amazing encounter with a Snipe nervously swimming between islands, and marvelled at the wheeling flocks of Lapwings and hundreds of Wigeon. A Dark-bellied Brent Goose appeared with the Canada, Greylag and Egyptian Geese on the far side, and a Grey Heron appeared.

Swimming Snipe. Sussex bird tours with South Downs Wildlife.
Swimming Snipe!
Wigeon flying. Sussex bird tours with South Downs Wildlife.
Wigeon

As we headed back towards the visitor centre, a pair of Ravens flew over together, softly 'cronking' as they went, and we also added Cormorant to the day. With over 50 species recorded, it wasn't a bad couple of hours on a cold and rainy day.



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