RSPB Pulborough Brooks – 16/04/2023

Birdsong was subdued on this occasion at the reserve, so it was likely some species had not arrived. If they had, they were lying low and remaining quiet. A light phase Common Buzzard was seen perched on a fence and two others circled at distance. The first summer migrant found was a Chiffchaff singing from the top of a tree a few yards from the Visitor Centre. This bird showed nicely but was the only songster seen before reaching the feeding station.

Here three or four Great Tits came to the feeders. Goldfinch, Blue Tit, House Sparrow, Long-tailed Tit and Greenfinch also visited. A Nightingale was singing near Fattengates Courtyard so hopes remained high of adding our target species to our day list. The walk down the zig-zag proved quiet, but both Dunnock and Nuthatch were quickly added in the Courtyard. Some of the party managed brief views of a nightingale, but these birds were playing a serious game of hide and seek. A Song Thrush sang from a mature oak behind us and a Kestrel perched at the top of a nearby larch.

Nightingale Singing – Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)

Moving on towards Westmead Hide, a male Stonechat perched boldly on an electric fence. A Common Whitethroat meanwhile worked its way along a wire fence parallel to the path, dropping periodically into the long grass to forage. A male Blackcap was then seen in blackthorn close to the hide which was busy.

A Grey Heron and four drake Shovelers were quickly seen. A pair of Avocets had claimed one of the small islands to attempt nesting. Lapwings meanwhile were kept busy escorting marauding Carrion Crows from the grassland. A Common Snipe was asleep at the foot of some sedge quite close to the hide and a Redshank flew across the water. Two pairs of Teal were sat on one of the other small islands and a Pied Wagtail foraged around the margins. A female Marsh Harrier was then spotted on the ground before flying right towards Winpenny Hide. A couple of Egyptian Geese also betrayed their presence with raucous calls..

Adder Alley failed to reveal any snakes or Nightingales this time. Three distant Little Egrets and a herd of black Fallow Deer were seen from Little Hanger. However water levels were high at Netleys Hide. Those visiting the latter managed to add both Reed Buntings and Sedge Warbler to their lists.

After lunch patient attempts to see Nightingale again failed for most but not all. Returning to Fattengates Courtyard produced several Dunnocks and a Red Kite in flight. A pair of Bullfinches then proved tricky to see initially, but later the male showed nicely whilst  stripping buds from a willow.