East Sussex, 9th November 2009 .......

We decided to try and catch up on a couple of birds missing from our year lists and so our first port of call was Weirwood Reservoir near Forest Row.

Our target here was Marsh Tit, a species hard to find nearer to home. Fortunately, two birds were on show at the feeders near the hide, along with a Great Spotted Woodpecker, one Coal Tit and a Treecreeper which was on a nearby tree.

MARSH TIT at Weirwood Reservoir, East Sussex (Graham)

The reservoir itself was shrouded in thick mist, but we could just make out about a dozen Teal feeding in the shallows.

We headed on to Old Lodge Nature Reserve on the Ashdown Forest in search of a Great Grey Shrike that had been reported on a few occasions over the past couple of weeks. No luck though. Here the mist was even thicker and we failed to see very much at all. We did log Coal Tit, Nuthatch and heard a Tawny Owl calling at 10.15 a.m. but, apart from that, we only saw a few Fallow Deer.


Our next stop was Newhaven where we hoped to see the Purple Sandpipers that roost on the eastern arm of the harbour. Fortunately, there was no mist, in fact the air was crystal clear. High tide wasn't until 3.30 p.m. so we had a few hours to kill.


Walking along to the cliffs to the west of the harbour we noted 15 Curlews, 6 Oystercatchers and a Sparrowhawk but it was very quiet, with the sea very calm and little on the move.


Back at the harbour, a couple of Rooks were perched up on a fence and we were surprised to hear a Raven cronking away over the fort. We soon picked it out, being mobbed by Carrion Crows and Jackdaws and then spotted a second bird that had appeared from nowhere.
One bird flew off whilst the other perched on the cliff, calling continuously.

ROOK at Newhaven, East Sussex (Graham)

RAVEN at Newhaven, East Sussex (Graham)

We spent the next hour or so looking at the numerous Herring Gulls and eventually the incoming tide reached the stage where we felt there was a good chance that the Purple Sandpipers might put in an appearance.

Adult HERRING GULL at Newhaven, East Sussex (Graham)

2nd-winter HERRING GULL at Newhaven, East Sussex (Graham)

1st-winter HERRING GULL at Newhaven, East Sussex (Graham)
(details of the rings sent to the BTO, it will be interesting to find out where it was ringed)

It wasn't too long before we picked out three birds on the concrete supports, just above the water line on the eastern arm of the harbour. Very distant views though so, after a discussion with one of the local birders on how to get to that side of the mouth of the river, we headed off to get a closer look.


We parked at an industrial estate and made the longish walk to the east arm, across some very good scrubby habitat that looked promising for holding migrants at the right time of year. Just before reaching the eastern harbour arm, we noticed a male Stonechat perched on a chainlink fence and then a couple of Black Redstarts joined it briefly.
On to the harbour arm and a look over the edge at the concrete supports soon revealed close views of the Purple Sandpipers. Stunning little waders when seen at close quarters. I managed just one shot of one bird, but there were at least three birds present.

PURPLE SANDPIPER at Newhaven, East Sussex (Graham)

Satisfied that we had added a couple more birds to our year's tally we headed back to Old Lodge Nature Reserve and spent half an hour in the dark listening to a Tawny Owl hooting before heading home.

Paul & Graham


  1. A good days birding. Maybe catch up with you soon, now I have more time to spare? FAB.

  2. Hi Frank,

    You know you are always welcome at the pits.