Jan 1 revisited

I previously reported on a “how many bird species can you see in Hastings & St Leonards on Jan 1” walk on that day, which was rained off with only 48 species encountered.

As the weather seemed fine yesterday, January 10, I decided to set off just before dawn to have another go, this time walking from Fairlight through the Country Park.

Tawny Owls were calling in Fairlight but could not be counted for this list, My usual 3 hour route through the park produced 37 species, none of great note and I didn’t get either Peregrine or Raven.  A Sparrowhawk pursuing a Green Woodpecker an unusual sight-it escaped.  Yellowhammer and Bullfinch were  perhaps the most interesting species   Gratefully descending to the level seafront- walking up and down the glens is hard on the knees !- I walked slowly along, noting a dozen Turnstones around the fishing boats and a couple of Kittiwakes around a boat at sea. At least 40 Red Throated Divers flew west, but I couldn’t see any Gannets.

At Marine Court I unexpectedly encountered Andrew Grace, who with Sharon Bigg was with me for the Jan 1 attempt, and we proceeded together.

At Bulverhythe we finally encountered Starling at the same place as last time, and on the playing fields there, amongst a large flock of Black headed Gulls we saw the only Common and Mediterranean Gulls of the day, the latter my first in the area since Oct 26 and perhaps an early returning bird.

We then spent some time walking the paths in Coombehaven, adding 8 new species, including wintering Chiffchaff, Cettis Warbler, Water Rail and, bird of the day a single Water Pipit. [Coombehaven has been the main wintering site in Sussex for this species, though there are few recent published records]. Walking through the woods above the wetland-new territory for me- we saw a Marsh Tit,  then checked Wishing Tree reservoir, and

ran for a bus, which dropped us off at the top edge of Alexandra Park. We spent the last hour there, adding Treecreeper, Coal Tit and Grey Wagtail.

The total for the day was 62 species, remarkably the figure of 48 species on Jan 1 was reached at pretty much exactly the same time and place on both days, despite completely different routes !

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