Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Sussex Commons

I had a few disappointing days wandering around the Sussex Commons earlier in the year. The open heathland, the walking and the scenery were all great but the commons seemed devoid of bird life. You tend to expect more from such a unique environment. I have not been back since, but having seen a few promising reports on the SOS web site over the last couple of weeks, and knowing that the dragonflies would be about, I thought it would be worth another look.

I started off on Iping and Stedham Commons. Initial impressions were good, a lot of singing and plenty of birds flying. However, it did not last long, by 10am with the temperature gradually increasing and the humidity rising it started to go quiet. There were birds about but they were hard to find.


Tree Pipit

The Tree Pipits were perhaps the easiest to spot but they are going to have a difficult time nesting on the ground here. There were notices up all around the common asking for dogs to be kept under close control to protect the ground nesting birds, but of the thirty or forty dogs I saw on the common none were on leads and most were running backwards and forwards through the scrub. It was perhaps fortunate that there was nothing around for them to chase.

Tree Pipit

I did have a few doubts over this second Tree Pipit when I saw the length of the claws but the identifying feature is the rear claw which is shorter and more curved than on the Meadow Pipit and this can be seen in the picture above.


Stonechat

Stonechats seem to be in short supply this year. This is only the second one that I have seen so I was pleased that he was looking so smart.


Treecreeper

I am still trying to get a good picture of a Treecreeper. They are fast moving and usually stay in the shadows so it is hard to get a good shot of them. When they do come out into the sun the silky white on there underside burns out as soon as the sunlight hits it


Yellowhammer

There were Yellowhammers about on the common but my pictures there were poor so this is a shot taken on Cissbury Ring on the way home.

I tried Ambersham and Lavington Commons but by midday both were very quiet. Fortunately we are now into the dragonfly season so most of the day was spent photographing these. Getting good pictures is just as challenging as with the birds but you don't usually have to walk so far. Something I was grateful for on a hot afternoon.

See my next blog for the pictures.

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