Sunday, 27 January 2013

Cuckmere 27 January

Before I start this post, don't get me wrong, I love my patch! It's just sometimes it has the ability to irk, irritate and infuriate in equal measures, and today was one of those days. It's being confined to my 'Room 101', and it is my fondest desire that I never speak of it again after this day...

small amount of flooding
It began badly, when my alarm woke me up at seven, only for my pre-conscious self to decide sleep was more important. Probably a wise move, but by the time I woke of my own will at nine I was kicking myself! It was then half-past ten by the time I made it to Cuckmere Haven, by which time I'd realised I had the scope, but had left the tripod at home! Walking down the footpath opposite the A259, my spirits were lifted a little bit by the sight of a large gull roost in the third field north of exceat!
'SO... F*@#!£G... BRIGHT!

My first port of call was these fields. In the first two were about 400 Canada Geese, 100 Wigeon, 40 Curlew, 50 Rook and 11 Shelduck, but nothing out of the ordinary. 30 Teal flew over heading south. The riverbank path was, as usual, a mudbath, it was like walking through treacle! I was almost at the third field, where god knows how I would have even checked the gulls without a tripod, when, to my enormous chagrin, they were put up! Most flew off south to the west side of the Cuckmere, were I could have scanned them if I wanted to, but this day was already frustrating me. I did a brief survey of the 400 or so gulls as they flew over, most were Great Black-backs, with a decent number of Lesser Black-backs and a few Herrings, and probably a Yellow-leg or Casp mixed in somewhere! Three Lesser Black-backs dropped closer into one of the fields, where I picked out that at least one of them was an intermedius.
intermedius (left) and graelsii (right). you'll have to take my word for it!

The one good thing about this area was that it was at least in the lee of the wind, protected by the downs! The same couldn't be said once I walked down the riverbank the the southern side of the A259, where the SW wind was relentless and miserable! to compound matters, the sun was now almost at it's peak, and I was being forced by the bank to walk south-east, facing directly into it. The path was also a mud-bath, and there really weren't many birds around at all! 15 Pintail on the Meanders with about 200 Wigeon were a good count, but I couldn't find the hoped for Gadwall, Tufted Duck or Pochard (all potential patch yearticks when I'm trying to do a big year for the Cuckmere!)
3 Pintail (drakes) and 3 Wigeon (2 drakes 1 duck)- light was dodgy and they were fairly distant
so I went home, feeling dejected, and having seen very little with my hour! May the birding gods bless anyone reading this with substantially better luck!

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