News broke through yesterday of a ROSE-COLOURED STARLING, in the scrub at the foot of Castle Hill, Newhaven. Dad wasn't home from work til late evening, and I couldn't face cycling through the human-infested sewage canal that is Newhaven, so I just hoped the bird would still be around today.
Thankfully it was, and, despite Dad having to drive his car through 'the town that God forgot', we arrived fairly opstimistic.
However, the bird hadn't been seen for a few hours, and, according to the whispered wisdom of the birders, it had last been seen disappearing over the clifftop. I took this as the cue to for a healthy scramble up the cliff. (for those who don't live nearby, Newhaven Cliffs are mercifully easy to climb, with a gradient barely steeper than any of the hills nearby and loads of footholds)...
This proved fruitless for the Starling, but there were plenty of Song Thrushes and a few Robins and Dunnocks in the limited scrub. Among the Song Thrushes was one all-dark thrush, giving an all-too familiar 'chack' as it flew away. I was already fairly confdent of it's identity, but it took another five minutes before I saw it again. It was a very nice male RING OUZEL, looking resplendent with his white breastband and scaly wings.
With no sign of the RCS up here, Dad and I hastily scrambled down the cliff and joined the other birders down at the bottom. We waited for another half-hour, but saw no sign of the bird, eventually giving up and heading home just before the sunset. However, the wait hadn't been totally fruitless. A BRAMBLING flew over calling (sussex yeartick 167 and brit yeartick 180), 20+ Swallows passed east along the cliffs, there were 2-3 Rock Pipits entertaining all. 45+ Curlew flew east, presumably going to roost somewhere on the undercliff between Newhaven and Brighton, and the Common Starlings were all flocking together in small groups as we left, though their rare relative was nowhere to be seen.
After a while, i got fed up looking for this non-existent bird, and went to photograph the well-posing gulls in the evening light. Cold fingers and tired eyes made using Manual Focus a bit of an arse, but I did my best. The shots are a bit out of focus, but still better than AF in my opinion.
in the end, two very good birds, even If I missed the best one. Driving back, two Cormorants roosting next to the enormous one at Newhaven (I really need a photo to describe this to non-locals!)
as a final note, very few birds in Seaford today. single figure numbers of Swallows passing over, but not a single mipit or chiffchaff.