Monday, 13 February 2017


I have seen lots of Twite in Scotland but a Twite in Sussex is something unusual so it was worth the effort to go and see it. It seemed to be showing regularly but it actually took us three days to connect with it. The first day, late morning onwards, nothing at all, the second day mid morning onwards, we missed it by ten minutes, then no sign at all. The third day we were there just after dawn and it eventually showed up late morning and then only for about sixty seconds. Not much return for hours spent standing in the cold but at least we saw it and got record shots of its presence.


The bird was seen on the east bank of the Cuckmere about half way between the Cuckmere Inn car park (Golden Galeon) and the sea. Grid reference TV516985. Twite are usually a flock bird and are found in Scotland and on the North Sea coast so it was unusual to see one by itself on the south coast. We can only hope that it finds its way back to its breeding grounds in the spring.

We waited a while but it did not look as though the Twite would return so with a high tide due we headed off down to Newhaven East pier to look for the Purple Sandpipers.

They can often be found on the structural supports below the pier but they are difficult to see and to photograph. The secret is to be there on bright day just before high tide. Wait at the end of the pier and as the tide comes up the birds are forced off the horizontal supports and have the choice of balancing on the diagonals or coming out onto the top of the pier. If you are at the end of the pier you will have the sun behind you.

First up was a Turnstone. The Puprple Sandpipers seem to enjoy dodging the waves and they have to be at serious risk of being swept away before they will abandon their feeding area.


They eventually made an appearance and they are well worth waiting for. A beautiful bird and full of character.

Purple Sandpiper

There is only one problem, that is the yellow lichen on the stonework they stand on. You have to get the angle right to avoid your picture being swamped by the yellow glow.

Unable to feed until the tide goes out the Sandpipers will often settle down to roost only a few feet from where you are standing.

On the way back to the car we called in to take another look at the Tide Mills Serin. It was there but with a number of people watching and taking photographs there seemed little chance of improving on the pictures we already had and we were only adding to the disturbance around the birds feeding area.

A quick distant record shot and we headed for home.


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