Thursday 27 April 2023

White-crowned Sparrow: Seaford Head, East Sussex

The White-crowned Sparrow was found at Seaford Head on Saturday the 22nd. We watched the reports of the bird's continued presence but with words like "mobile", "very elusive" and "no sign" combined with the fact that Brian was still recovering from illness we resisted travelling. Brian however was keen to go at some point having dipped the 2016 Cheshire bird while travelling back from Scotland. Yesterday we cracked and having arrived at the car park at 8am, headed off down the grass track to join around twenty or so other birders already present. Most were viewing the open scrub area that sloped up the hill towards the top coastal path. The remainder were staking out a couple of seeded areas along the central path. At 9am Alex B saw the bird in the open scrub area, and although Brian was standing next to him at the time, it disappeared before Brian could get his bins up!

At midday, we headed back to the car park for some quick refreshments and of course, the bird was seen fifteen minutes later! This time at the seeded area towards the end of the track. We staked this area out until 3pm but after 7 frustrating hours on site, we headed home disappointed. Only for the bird to reappear at the seed an hour and a half later and would continue to return several times that evening!

This morning Brian wanted to give it another go, so at 7am we were once again heading for Seaford, arriving just after 9am. We headed back down the track and as we walked up the slope the bird was sitting out in a tree close to the seeded area! Seven hours of disappointment yesterday were forgotten within a minute this morning. That's birding for you. We watched it coming to the seed every fifteen minutes or so, quite often within the thicker cover, but every once in a while allowing stunning views.

We took a short walk down to the sea and managed to get views of Rock Pipit and then a female Redstart, both additions to the year list. 

The main track down to the bird's location

The Seven Sisters

Heading back to the car park we watched this Spitfire flying low overhead.

On the way home we stopped off at Thorndon Country Park hoping to connect with the Black-crowned Night Heron. It was still present but in deep cover and well hidden.

It was well hidden left of the horizontal branch in shot!

Heron was in the trees at the north end of Old Hall Pond 

It was well hidden!