A family bird watching trip to Seaford Head

28 October 2019 | Posted in Guest blogger , Seaford Head
A family bird watching trip to Seaford Head
Robin and the ‘scope with the Seven Sisters in the distance

By Jay, Aged 10

Guest blog

I got out of the car and got my binoculars ready. We had all chosen our three birds we thought we would each see today. The first person to see all three of their birds was the winner. I chose a Chiffchaff, Herring Gull and a Robin. Mum chose a Wren, Jackdaw and a Starling. My brother, Robin, chose a Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow and a Black Headed Gull. Lastly, Dad chose a Raven, Stonechat and a Meadow Pipit.

We set off with the telescope and other equipment. Robin didn’t take his bins because he didn’t want to carry them and we had the telescope anyway. Well, I took mine and I’m glad I did because there were some good birds, which will be mentioned later.

The weather was cool, dry and with a steady breeze coming from the east. We had lunch on a bench in front of some scrub. Magpies hopped about in the thickets while Dunnocks called to each other behind us.

When we had finished our packed lunch, we headed upwards towards the golf course. Robin and I ran about collecting golf tees as Swallows and House Martins whirled overhead. Then we split up for a bit; I went with Dad, Nanna and Grandad, while Robin went with Mum.

A Skylark passed by, chirping as it did so. We walked down the path by the golf course. Suddenly, Dad spotted a Meadow Pipit land on a nearby post. I raised my bins to my eyes and turned the focus wheel. It was a great view. I put them down and peered through the ‘scope. The sight was even better! Its belly was patterned with black marks like a Song Thrush. Grandad took a photo of it with his camera.

Bird1

A Meadow Pipit-the results of Grandad playing with his camera!

We then continued our walk, but it wasn’t long ‘til we stopped again – a pair of Stonechats (one male, one female) were sitting in a Gorse bush in front of us. I got the ‘scope on them, but it wasn’t easy because they kept moving about. Eventually I got them in the view finder. I showed Dad the birds while Grandad played with his camera. After a while, some people came by and scared them away.

Dad then said we should get a move on because Mum and Robin might be waiting for us. We walked along by the cliff edge. The Seven Sisters stretched along the coastline in front of us.

It was when we passed the path that joined from the car park that we remembered we didn’t tell Mum which path to take to meet up with us. The thought of her and Robin walking all the way to Cuckmere Haven without us sped us up! Just as we thought we had completely lost them, I spotted them sitting by a gate further down the path.

We all walked together down to Hope Gap and went down the steps to the rocky beach below. A Little Egret stood on the rocks as two Oyster Catchers flew by. Dad saw a Whimbrel, but when I went to look through the ‘scope, it had gone. A Rock Pipit flew in noisily, as if announcing itself, and landed on a rock. I got a chance to look at it through my bins just before it flew away. Eventually we went back up the steps and strode down the hill towards Cuckmere Haven and the river valley. Near the bottom, we stopped to look at Grey Herons through the ‘scope.

We then took a path than ran parallel with the Cuckmere river. Through a gap in the hedge, five young Grey Herons were lined up next to each other! Wigeons and Canada Geese gathered behind them.

We moved a little further down the path where there was another opening. A Chiffchaff, Blue Tit and a Chaffinch were hopping about in the bushes next to us.

But the most amazing sight was the eighteen Curlews and fourteen Little Egrets mooching about on the grass by the river! I looked through my bins but they were a little too far away to see much detail with an 8x32 lens. So instead, I looked through the ‘scope. I could see the Curlews were well camouflaged for this habitat – with the naked eye they looked like tussocks of grass.

Suddenly a Kingfisher flew up the river, a blue-ish dot darting over the water.

After a while, we set off up another hill that would take us back to our starting point. A Buzzard was being harassed by three Crows. When we got to the top of the hill, a Green Woodpecker flew in front of us and landed in a nearby tree. As well as that, we heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker calling from the same clump of trees.

We then walked on for a while until we got to the Old Barn by the car park. Several Pied Wagtails fluttered about on the roof of the barn, and I got them I the ‘scope and we all had a look. Every now and again, a Wren would pop up onto a window frame of the barn.

Linnets sat on branches in the dense scrub. I looked at them through my bins, their pinky-red foreheads and bellies showing nicely.

After that small burst of birds, we headed back to the car. As I was getting in, a Rook flew over, squawking loudly. It had been a good day as we had seen 38 different species of birds. I remembered that I was the first person to spot all of my own 3 birds that I’d chosen for our bird spotting game. Mum came second and Robin third, but Dad never saw a Raven, so he came last.

Visit Seaford Head nature reserve

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