Archive for Rye

Between Rye & Winchelsea

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 19, 2017 by cliffdean

Synchronising with the Freccia della Palude at Winchelsea Centrale on a morning cooler than it ought to be, thick with the night’s rain and scented with fading hawthorns, are two Cuckoos, ever more precious for all their louche wing-drooping as they promise to vanish from our world.

Along the lane,where the fly-tipped junk is engulfed by springtime weeds, Chiffchaffs sing from the willows and golden Yellowhammers skim the field-edge. Within the withered branches of the spring-fed oak just beyond the junction a dot is moving; moving in a way that reveals it as a Spotted Flycatcher. Another bird now reduced to a dot like the one that used to shrink to nothing as you turned off the television. And the Little Owl that used to sun itself on the rabbit-grazed bank has upped sticks ever since I told people this was a good place to see Little Owl.

Along the misty cliff-line though, the air is so crowded with voices welling up from prehistory  – Blackbird, Song Thrush, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Dunnock, Reed Warbler, Wren…. concentration is required to unravel the soundscape.

Deep and percussive pulses of Nightingale song issue from the shadows by a rope-swing beneath a clump of taller trees.

Max Ernst: Deux enfants menacés par un rossignol

Rossignol translates not only as Nightingale but also, magically, as “skeleton key”. The song is the key which unlocks deep and forgotten doors.

Usignolo di fiume, River Nightingale, Cetti’s Warbler, also deeply hidden, announces its presence in brief and blatant blasts. For a long time just one or two here, last year nine, this morning five.

Both end and beginning, this extensive dung-heap S of Dairy Cottage attracts much favourable attention from Yellow Wagtails, Jackdaws, Rooks, Greylag Geese, Stock Doves, a Herring Gull, Pied Wagtails & Swallows, the latter three commuting from nest-sites on Cadborough Cliff to profit from its fertility.

Joan Miro: Man and Woman in Front of a Pile of Excrement

Efforts have been made, across the arable fields, to impose productive uniformity and erase history by levelling out the snaking hollows of former creeks.  Comparatively birdless maize last year has been superseded by other cereals, currently inhabited by a couple of dozen Skylarks and four pairs of Yellow Wagtails. While one Mute Swan continues to incubate, two other pairs already have cygnets. Four Sedge Warblers are grating from scrubby ditches toward the Antient Towne, above which yet more dots denote the hanging on of the relic Swift & House Martin populations.

Only the surface of the ground is wet but by the time I reach the lane again I’m hobbling on high pattens claggy soil.

E Guldeford & beyond

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 16, 2016 by cliffdean

20160216_090304_001The north side of Rye was full of birds – the wrong sort as far as bird-watchers are concerned, since no group of tripod-bearers was gathered on the pavement to admire the many noisy House Sparrows, Starlings, Jackdaws, Collared Doves, Woodpigeons & Chaffinches like there was at Pett Pools for a single ibis.

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Most pictures by Tim Waters

And when fog drifted in, though the houses behind us were half-lost, their chattering, whistling, cooing bird chorus extended out across the serpentine ghost-creeks of long-lost Appledore Water.

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For a while only the tops of the turbine blades could be seen swishing above the fog-bank.

For a while, only Skylarks & distant traffic, until we doubled back to the Moneypenny willows where once more there was a tangle of birdsong: Robin, Great Tit, Dunnock, Song Thrush & House Sparrow.

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Tucked away in the pits were Coot, Moorhen, Gadwall, Shoveler, Teal, Heron & a reticent Chiffchaff, against the backing drone of a grain drier. (And while on the subject of Clapped-out Vehicles, here’s a beautiful one stumbled across by Mike M in France:)

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Further out onto the marsh along the Wainway Wall, a breeze had cleared fog then dropped away completely. The turbines stood unproductive, the sounds in the stillness were of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Lapwings. Golden Plovers and heavy machine guns.

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This photo is reduced too much to see, but the pasture past the sheep is full of Lapwings, Starlings & Golden Plovers – all in thousands but the plovers maybe 3000. Who knows – maybe more? When confronted with clouds of birds, I give in. The 62 Mute Swans were more my skill-level.

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A Buzzard hunched on a power lines, a Merlin pounced on some unfortunate victim and a Kingfisher dashed past us.

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We walked/hobbled/limped eight miles & saw/heard / smelt/ intuited 58 species.

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About birds for a change

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on December 9, 2015 by cliffdean

Cadborough Cliff is one of the tetrad-based local walks I do fairly regularly, finding much the same birds – with minor variations – on each occasion. It’s not often that I add species to the list so 3 new ones this morning was unusual.

What made the difference was a small flood in the field behind Dairy Cottage (TQ914198) where, beside Herring, Common & Black-headed Gulls, were 300 Lapwings, 4 Redshanks & 1 Ruff. the latter two were the new species, the trio completed later by a Raven which was seeing off a Buzzard closer to Winchelsea.

At another small flood on the far side of the railway (TQ911199), 60 Pied Wagtails & 10 Reed Buntings were doing their best to avoid a Sparrowhawk which had identified them as an All-You-Can-Eat buffet.

Otherwise, there were a lot of Blackbirds (31) with smaller numbers of Song Thrushes (16), Fieldfares (34) & Redwings (6), the latter two mainly in the Hawthorns lining Station Road. There were 2 Cetti’s Warblers singing along the foot of the cliff, 1 Stonechat there + another pair on Rye Marsh where there were also c40 Skylarks & 2 Grey Wagtails. I was disappointed to find only 1 Yellowhammer, just by the station.

And the Little Owl was sunning itself in its normal tree on the corner of Dumb Woman’s Lane.

Levels & Dunes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 30, 2015 by cliffdean

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Sunday: Over the humps and hollows of old sand-banks blown across the erstwhile Appledore Water, leaving behind for a while the urban birdsounds of Rye – House Sparrows, Collared Doves, Herring Gulls – but never escaping the howl of accelerating motor-bikes (already racing through the 30mph zone at twice that speed).

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Perfumes of clover and beans.

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Reedy ditches chugging with Reed Warblers or clogged with nightmare Crassula. Skylarks singing; Curlews edged from the river by the rising tide; a Kingfisher – a stubby dot – hurtling across pasture; Lapwings rising in advance of a patrolling Land Rover; young Starlings announcing the stealthy approach of a subtle Sparrowhawk.

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Few birds though, across the broad horizons, apart from Rooks. The airborne larks are invisible for the most part; the Yellow Wagtails absent but for a few in a bean field; just a few male Reed Buntings on the look-out. But further over toward the wind-farm some raptors can be seen, though it takes some Naming of Landmarks to direct everyone towards them. There’s a Kestrel hovering, a bulky Peregrine sitting on a gate-post and 3 Buzzards circling by the turbines.

A Brown Hare lopes through the long grass of a long-dry creek, only the black tips of its long ears projecting from its brief refuge in a rill.

Motor-bikes take the curves of the Camber Road at speed.

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More and more, along the back lanes and peeping through the bushes, one sees That Grey which means Designers Are Here. Say Goodbye to humble bungalows and Hello To Style. A gap in the traffic permits us to cross into the ridged world of sand, Sea Buckthorn, toppled block-houses and golf.

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There are Common Whitethroats singing here, a couple of Lesser Whitethroats and, unexpectedly (because the vegetation doesn’t look tall enough) a Blackcap. A really surprising number of Meadow Pipits in display flight, for unlike some golf courses, manicured and sterile, this one retains many areas of rough, speckled with intense pink Pyramidal Orchids. The best bird of all, though, is a boldly coloured, boldly clicking and flicking male Stonechat, obviously on territory though there’s no sign of mate or offspring. It’s a scarce breeding bird at this end of the county and, although they have bred before along the lower Rother, a pleasure to find.

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On the return from Rye, traffic is backed up from a police road-block at Winchelsea and diverted across Pett Level. A motorcyclist has been killed on the A259 at Icklesham.

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Beans’n’Roses

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 27, 2015 by cliffdean

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The still morning air traps a patchwork of perfumes and, as usual, Cadborough Cliff is crowded with songbirds. It’s quite a challenge to count them (but keeps me busy) since I need to simultaneously differentiate the various songs, bear in mind the various species, assess whether any are duplications of birds I’ve already noted and choose one up ahead as a boundary marker for the next count.

The list is made up mostly of Blackbirds, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Dunnocks,Linnets, Whitethroats & Wrens, backed up by smaller numbers of around 25 other species including Cetti’s, Reed  & Sedge Warbler and Yellowhammer. The wandering of Cetti’s Warblers continues, with one singing right by Winchelsea Station.

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Sadly, there’s no sound of Turtle Dove in Rye, though I had an email recently from someone who’d been on holiday in the town and heard them in two places.

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The cliff-top Cadborough Farm owes its post-war appearance to the destruction of the former building by a doodlebug during the war. The bare ground results from winter flooding of the hollow bed of an old creek.

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Skylarks are audible all across the arable fields between Rye & Winchelsea; I counted 31 birds of which about 20 were singing males. There was one Corn Bunting towards the northern end and 5 Yellow Wagtails towards the transition to sheep pasture.

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While the ditches with newly-grown reed are occupied by Reed Warblers & Buntings, the brambly ditches and broad field margins at Rye Marsh Farm provide good habitat for 4 Sedge Warblers, another pair of Yellow Wagtails with young and another singing Yellowhammer. Somewhere among the crops, a Red-legged Partridge is grating.

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No song

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 25, 2014 by cliffdean

DSC_0046It’s gone quiet along Cadborough Cliff, so that Whitethroats are harder to count even though there are so very many flitting around the bramble. Linnets are easy to see as they flutter about, likewise Goldfinches, but the Dunnocks have sunk from notice, silent in the prickly heart of the gorse and almost as secretive as the lone Cetti’s Warbler.

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Young Green Woodpeckers yelp on the rabbit-grazed turf and 3 Yellowhammers continue their lazy song parallel with the cliff. Fluting Blackcaps are hidden in the shadow of the tall trees but none of a dozen Chiffchaffs is in song – just contact notes.

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Broad beans and barley harbour the target species on Rye Marsh. Four nervous Corn Buntings, looking like a family group, are up on top. Relationships are easier when it comes to a bunch of at least 12 Yellow Wagtails in the southernmost beans – distinctive plumages are backed up with feeding behaviour. There must be 3 pairs of adults, which fits in with observations earlier in the season. Skylarks, though, are much harder. None of the previous 20-odd is singing and no more than 5 fly up from the path. There must be dozens hidden among the crops, together with many more Red Buntings than the ones I see flitting over the top of the crops.

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Rye Marsh

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 25, 2014 by cliffdean

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Last week I spent a pleasant couple of hours on the nice easy walk round TQ91E, once more listening out for the jingling of the Corn Bunting I’d heard there previously. If it was there, it remained silent, but there were a lot of other birds around – 49 species in all.

Mostly along Cadborough Cliff I counted 44 Linnets, 21 Blackbirds, 19 Wrens, 18 Whitethroats, 17 Chaffinches, 16 Chiffchaffs, 12 Dunnocks and smaller numbers of various other species including single Cuckoo, Buzzard, Little Owl & Yellowhammer.

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Mostly across Rye Marsh, I counted 26 Skylarks, 17 Reed Buntings, 17 Reed Warblers, 6 Sedge Warblers and various other things including a Lapwing on territory, 3 Yellow Wagtails and a Marsh Harrier.

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