Autumn migration watch and the RX birdrace

Oct 8th was a very busy day in the events calendar, Wildlife events no exception with both the Friends of HCPNR autumn migration event, led by Andrew Grace, and the RX Birdrace taking place simultaneously.
The Friends event aimed to show attendees [17] migration actually taking place, and did so very well with, a steady stream of small birds passing overhead. Much better than last year when we had thick fog! The RX event pitted teams of up to 5 against each other to see who could see the most bird species in the RX area between 0700 and 1900, raising funds for Mallydams Wood RSPCA and Rye Harbour NR.As I was helping with the friends event as well as part of a team [the Pett Levellers, organised with military precision by Cliff Dean], I set off in the dark from Fairlight to join my fellow bird-racers at 7. It all looked very promising, with a Ring Ouzel in clifftop scrub at Firehills in the dark , and , 0700 having arrived, good records of Dartford Warbler, and both Merlin and Marsh Harrier heading W over the sea. I left the rest of the team to walk as far as Fairlight Glen, joining Andrew and the others at 8 for a walk around Firehills. Straightaway another Ring Ouzel came in off the sea and flew right past us all,calling well. After a while groups of House Martins, Meadow Pipits and Finches began passing west, together with an unusual series of parties of House Sparrows, some of which were seen to come in off the sea, and over 30 Skylarks-a good total. Several groups of Crossbills,a Rock Pipit, a calling Dartford Warbler and an obliging Stonechat rounded off the 2 hour watch nicely.
I rejoined the RX team at 10, to discover that the species count for the morning so far was 53, all within HCPNR-we had a target of 100 species .
We then left the park and headed west, via Warren Road, Stonelink Wood, Market Wood, Toot Rock, Carters Flood , Pett Levels, Winchelsea Beach, the Long Pit, Castle Water, eventually arriving at the Rye Harbour NR Bittern viewpoint where we stayed till 7. We walked around 12 miles [or 35,000 steps according to Martyns pedometer !], and, after a rather nail -biting last hour, finished with a comfortable 104 species.
We then returned [by car!] to Mallydams to compare results with the other teams , eat a welcome buffet, and as it turned out, take part in the Glittering Award Ceremony, for our 104 species was the joint highest total, scored by another team also. However, we were the only team to do it all on foot….

A very enjoyable day-good birding, good company and good causes.

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