Birding the brooks

Waltham Brooks is a real gem in the South Downs National Park. 51 species of bird were logged in under two hours of birdwatching this morning, including a couple of very welcome surprises...

The sewage works part of the site may not sound all that glamorous but for insect-eating birds it provides a winter pantry. A couple of Common Chiffchaffs were making the most of the feast, then a Grey Wagtail flew in to add a splash of colour. Talking of colour, two Eurasian Bullfinches were calling softly from the adjacent scrub, revealing their neat white rumps and orange underparts as they flew.

A big flock of thrushes appeared in the trees in the distance before flying overhead. About three quarters of them were Fieldfares. This winter visitor has been unusually late to arrive this year but they do seem to be 'in' now. The rest were Redwings, which have been a feature of birding outings for a good few weeks now.

Fresh from northern Europe: a flock of Fieldfares

Scanning along the river bank, a Western Marsh Harrier glided into view as it patrolled the long grass for small rodents or perhaps a bird to grab. A flock of about 25 Eurasian Wigeon flew silently overhead, but there would be more duck action later...

A soft 'churr' from the rank vegetation drew attention to a Dartford Warbler, which showed itself after a patient wait. This heathland bird was unexpected today and a real treat, though they do turn up outside of their 'classic' habitat in the winter months.

Dartford Warbler

While watching the warbler, a call very familiar from yesterday's outing came from above: a Hawfinch flying west! Another unusual sighting for Waltham Brooks.

The marshland soundtrack included a few Water Rails and Cetti's Warblers, though both remained unseen today. As always, the European Stonechats were no such trouble, with three busy birds moving from stem to stem.

On the approach to the pool, a flock of 30 Northern Lapwings appeared in the distance and a couple of Great Cormorants also entered the airspace.

A jumble of ducks: Northern Shoveler, Eurasian Teal, Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon and Mallard

The pool itself was full of ducks: Northern Shoveler, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Eurasian Teal and Mallard, plus a couple of Little Grebes for good measure! Around its margins were a few Common Reed Buntings and an obliging flock of Long-tailed Tits.

Long-tailed Tit

A very enjoyable birding walk!

  1. Northern Shoveler

  2. Gadwall

  3. Eurasian Wigeon

  4. Mallard

  5. Eurasian Teal

  6. Common Pheasant

  7. Little Grebe

  8. Stock Dove

  9. Common Woodpigeon

  10. Collared Dove

  11. Water Rail

  12. Common Moorhen

  13. Northern Lapwing

  14. Black-headed Gull

  15. Herring Gull

  16. Great Cormorant

  17. Western Marsh Harrier

  18. Great Spotted Woodpecker

  19. Eurasian Green Woodpecker

  20. Eurasian Jay

  21. Common Magpie

  22. Eurasian Jackdaw

  23. Rook

  24. Carrion Crow

  25. Common Raven

  26. Eurasian Blue Tit

  27. Great Tit

  28. Eurasian Skylark

  29. Common Chiffchaff

  30. Cetti's Warbler

  31. Long-tailed Tit

  32. Dartford Warbler

  33. Goldcrest

  34. Eurasian Wren

  35. Common Starling

  36. Song Thrush

  37. Redwing

  38. Eurasian Blackbird

  39. Fieldfare

  40. European Robin

  41. European Stonechat

  42. Dunnock

  43. House Sparrow

  44. Grey Wagtail

  45. Pied Wagtail

  46. Meadow Pipit

  47. Common Chaffinch

  48. Hawfinch

  49. Eurasian Bullfinch

  50. European Goldfinch

  51. Common Reed Bunting