I'd read on a few birding blogs & on twitter that Willow Tits were being seen fairly regularly at Combe Wood in Berkshire so I went over there today for a look. I parked up near St.Swithun's Church as advised and set off up the byway towards the crest of the hill noting a few Treecreepers, a pair of Ravens, a Red Kite or two and a Nuthatch on the way. I was expecting the Willow Tits to be near the top of the path and was not disappointed with a pair calling and showing briefly straight away...however, not well enough for pictures...so I walked on through Combe Wood. Alas no more Willow Tits so I turned around to be met with..the sound of chainsaws! Right were they'd shown earlier! Bugger!
With nothing to lose with the disturbance, I staked out a particular area and surprisingly I heard a bird start to sing and another give its diagnostic nasal call almost constantly as they hopped along the hedge..result. Even got a picture this time, very pleased.
Well the Twite did end up staying at the west bank of the Cuckmere so I picked up Luke Dray and we went over on Friday. At first it didn't show but after 15 minutes of waiting I spotted it feeding on the deck and it subsequently gave great views there and perched up. A Sussex tick for us both & a good one at that. We had a quick look through the gulls but didn't find much of note, although the Cackling Geese and Barnacle Geese were nearby, so we headed over to Newhaven for the Serin. I manged to pick it out by the ruins almost immediately and it showed well for 20 minutes or so before flying off eastwards; another Sussex tick for LD. Heading home I dropped off Luke and finding all under control at home (!), I went over to East Head for a look for the reported Snow Buntings. Unfortunately, an idiot dog owner was repeatedly letting her charge harass both the Buntings and the Sanderlings but they eventually settled for a few minutes at the north-west end.
A look at Pagham Lagoon didn't yield much so I went up to the Burgh at Canada Barn which was much better: Common Buzzards, Red Kites, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Corn Buntings, Fieldfares, Grey Partridge etc., very enjoyable.
A look for the reported Iceland Gull at Goring Gap didn't turn anything up; saw NB and he had no luck with it either so worth a look early perhaps. A Twite reported at the Cuckmere was of interest but no chance of going for it (presuming it's refound) until Friday...
Went and had a look at Matt Eade's Ridgway's Cackling Geese today at the Cuckmere and they were present with five Barnacle/Cackler hybrids and nine Barnacle Geese; the general opinion seems to be that they might be of Dutch origin. (I was grateful for the assistance and guidance of other birders as I hadn't been to that area before.) .