4. 30th August 2016, 08:30
This entry at number 4 came at a similar time of year to now, on a warm, early autumn day. My first port of call was Slade’s Farm, before heading up to the Ridge, and as ever I planned on checking the paddock first for any migrants.
As I approached the gate, a Thrush-sized, brown bird took off from the long grass just a couple of feet in front of me. I watched it’s undulating flight, fairly low over the paddock, before it dived into the bottom of the hedgerow. The colour, size, flight and behaviour all pointed to one species – a Wryneck!
The sighting caught me off guard somewhat, and I saw no features of the bird. I could only stick it out, and hope the individual reappeared. After about an hour of no-show, with things to do, I had no choice but to give up, and of course I didn’t see the bird again. It could have been a Song Thrush, perhaps, but I remain pretty confident it was a Wryneck.
That day, an unusually high number of Wrynecks were reported across the country, many of them on the south coast, including some in Sussex. This further added to my frustration, and after work I checked the paddock once more, and again found nothing.
There was immediate compensation that day though – a female Wheatear in the next field along from the paddock was pleasing, but it was a juvenile Marsh Harrier over Allden’s Hill that really made it easier to forget the probable Wryneck.