RXbirdwalk to Combe Haven

I’ve written in previous posts about the upper Combe Haven valley and although it’s a very nice remote-feeling area tucked away between Hastings & Bexhill I didn’t expect to find a lot of birds there. However, this morning it was surprisingly lively. The village around The Plough is full of the usual birds of habitation: House Sparrows, Jackdaws, Collared Doves, Robins and Dunnocks.

But just down the valley we found lots of birds feeding among rape stubble. Chaffinches, Linnets and a few Greenfinches were dropping down from a tall hedge to forage on a nearby track, while further across the same field 4 Wheatears were running about and a further 60 Linnets were feeding in a tight flock. There were Meadow Pipits too, and more of them overhead, flying south, the first wave of visible migration. About 30 Goldfinches were moving between another field and the streamside trees.

Warblers were flitting along the brambly stream banks ahead of us, mostly moving too fast to see well but then we came to a corner sheltered from the wind, where 3 Spotted Flycatchers were hawking out from the edge of a Hawthorn which they shared with a variety of other little birds including Chiffchaffs, Whitethroats, Blackcaps and a Sedge Warbler.

Hirundines were streaming south, at first just Swallows but then more Sand Martins and a flurry of House Martins when we later reached the river. There were some bigger birds overhead: Kestrels and a Sparrowhawk chased by Jackdaws, a couple of barking Herons, the usual commuting Herring Gulls then a bigger gull…actually much too big to be a gull at all — an Osprey, at 10.15. It Showed Well as it flapped slowly across the valley until lost to sight over Bexhill. I really didn’t expect to see one of those.

We paused to look for migrants in the scrub where the 17 Arches once spanned the valley, so many little warblers whizzing about that a rapid Synchronizing of Hawthorns was required to give helpful directions such as: “No 4 bush, Whitethroat bottom left, moving up.” A Hobby cruised up and down overhead, dismantling insects with its yellow legs, reappearing every five minutes or so, also Showing Well.

Bullocks stretched through the bars to slurp my rucksack as we paused at a gate to cobble together a list. A pert ochre bird appeared on an arc of briar just down the track – a Whinchat, soon joined by 3 more fluttering along the fence line. Showing Well, naturally. The Hobby was still gliding over us and 2 Buzzards belatedly appeared over Adam’s Farm.

The list came to 48 species. Nice and sunny too, though a dark cloud is once more gathering over this oasis with the resurrection of the Link Road plan. Nobody thought to drive a stake through its heart.

On Sunday September 24th, a Rally For The Valley is being organized by the Hastings Alliance, to show that the majority of local people who want a more imaginative solution to congestion on the A259.


7 Responses to “RXbirdwalk to Combe Haven”

  1. Dammit! It is always my fear, when I can’t make a walk at this time of year, that an osprey will be seen. I am now in distress.

    • You shouldn’t let your employers impinge upon your free time! You’ll get no thanks for it.

      • Jane La Lone Says:

        This is quite the true statement. Words of Wisdom (I was going to say by “The Poetry Man”. Phoebe Snow talked about the poetry man), Is this the countryside where you live or do you travel distances to see this beautiful paradise? I have been talking about joining a bird watching group for a couple of years. I guess it is time to start now, if I want to be in the beauty, instead of just seeing it on my PC. I have gotten to see some pretty wonderful birds from my back door, the best of which is a Red Tailed Hawk that visits me periodically. Thanks again for sharing…

      • Thank you Jane for your appreciative comments. Nearly all of the places on this blog (with the obvious exceptions of e.g. Italy and Turkey) are within a very short drive (20 mins) of my home. Pett Level is on my doorstep. They are however, relatively unvisited because most bird-watchers congregate at a few well-known sites.

  2. […] Trektellen, or even the SOS website, there have been quite a few in the last week and we saw one on last Saturday’s RXbirdwalk. I don’t mean that every time I looked up it was a different Osprey, but maybe I […]

  3. Where does Jane La Lone see RT Hawk periodically?? Anywhere near the back of Pett Level perchance, where Dave P recently photographed a probable RTH?
    Cliff you obviously need to get out more if you havent seen it! Btw Westfield Wildlife is up and running at last, though there may be a few glitches to sort.

    • Jane appears to live on the far side of the Atlantic. I’ve been watching out for Dave’s RTH but have not seen it. There do however seem to be a couple of Cranes in circualtion in our area – seen over the Pannel Valley yesterday evening.
      I’m pleased that WW is live – you give no link but I’ll seek it out and it will give me an excuse to have a walk over that way.

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