Pett Circular in Four Acts

RXbirdwalk Saturday September 18th

  1. You could hear the Sandwich Terns creaking, even from the land side of the seawall, and upon climbing the steps could see crowds of Cormorants bobbing on the incoming tide, with terns above them and many more out to sea. Gannets were cruising past, with news on the phone of many more along towards Rye. It looked as if they were hunting through shoals of Mackerel, which in turn promised a Miraculous Draught of Whitebait like two years ago when thousands of little fish were driven onto the shingle. So far though, no sign of that, nor of the skuas which should have built on the food chain.

2. With the Toot Rock bushes appearing devoid of life, we headed along the canal where, just before the 3rd Gate, we came across a Whinchat sitting on top of a tall thorn laden with crimson berries. A f Reed Bunting sat beside it and then the first of 3 Stonechats. All 4 chats then dropped down to hop around on the gate, along with the odd Whitethroat & Chiffchaff, as Cetti’s Warbler & Water Rail called from the ditch beside us. Meanwhile, over the tree-line of the nearby land-locked cliffs, a pair of Ravens, at least 2 Kestrels, a pair of Marsh Harriers and a Hobby were gliding, the smaller falcons persistently harassed by Jackdaws.

3. As we opened the flaps of the Pannel Scrape hide, I heard a Greenshank call but it never reappeared. However, among the lines of lounging Teal, we could soon pick out some Snipe, out in the open, and a couple of Ruff (6 flew in later). A female Shoveler was hustling a brood of very young ducklings – mid-September seems late. One of the group picked out a Green Sandpiper on the far side, which helpfully flew over to right in front of the hide. So tantalising: I watched a big dark bird flapping heavily over the distant marsh, circling against the light on downward-bowed wings but never banking enough to show what must have been white undersides till it disappeared behind the trees. Plainly an Osprey but…

4. The tract along the canal and across to the seawall is relatively birdless so gives everyone time to chat and by the time we can once more scan the water neither high tide nor onshore breeze have kept the previous birds ; the fish must have moved off and all the Cormorants are lined along the easternmost bank of the Pools, accompanied as ever by the Identity Crisis GBb Gull and a little cluster of Wigeon in the far corner. The 40+ Pochard of earlier in the week had mostly decamped, presumably to Castle Water along with all but one Tufted Duck.

65 species but lacking these Birds of Shame: NO Little Egrets, Wheatears, Yellow Wagtails, Egyptian Geese…just one Blackbird. But as I always say: It’s Not A Zoo.

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