May – October 2016

I walked the escarpment in Firle this afternoon with Paul S, and we didn’t find a single summer migrant. That means it’s truly late autumn, and past time to blog my first six months in Hailsham.

Highlights have included a few surprise records in town (Red Kite, HobbyPeregrine, Yellow Wagtail), and getting familiar with White Dyke & Down Level, the patch of Pevensey Levels just to the south-west of Hailsham. Just a handful of visits there since May have yielded birds including: Marsh HarrierRuff, Greenshank, Jack Snipe, Hobby (including a gathering of 14+ in May), Yellow Wagtail, Red Kite, Cuckoo, Whinchat.  

Meanwhile, I’ve been biking the Cuckoo Trail between Hailsham and Polegate, bookending days at work. Encounters have included Lesser and Common Whitethroats, Bullfinch, Willow Warblers, Reed Warbler, Siskin Ravens. 

In roughly chronological order, this is how the late spring, summer and early autumn went.

Less well known that Abbot’s Wood, Milton Hide just to the North has some good displays of bluebell, and birdsong.

The byways around Horse Eye and Down Levels are hard to navigate on foot in places, let alone in a vehicle.

Red Kites (and Hobbys) featured heavily in May.

It’s sad that Nightingales can’t be heard along the likely-looking hedgerows of the Cuckoo Trail. But the numbers just to the west of Hailsham are encouraging.


I’ve never before seen a young family of Cetti’s Warblers being fed, as there were at White Dyke.


Good to find Hobbys in woodland near Hailsham.


Marsh Tits are thinly spread in our area of Sussex, but present at Park Wood, just North of Hailsham.


A couple of circuits of Arlington Reservoir, on successive weekends.


This autumn has seen record numbers of Yellow-browed Warblers arrive in the UK. None (yet) for me, despite my own poor vocal impressions along the Cuckoo Trail and elsewhere.

Highlight of the autumn for me – not a very rare bird, but my first Jack Snipe for around 7 years was seen on Down Level, amongst many Common Snipe.

With summer migrants running thin, and November almost here, surely the owls , merlins and hen harriers are not far behind.


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