A walk to see wild­fowl and rap­tors on re­claimed salt­ings

Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding - PAUL TRODD

AT THE TIME of the Nor­man con­quest, the large area of wet­land between East­bourne and Bex­hill-on-sea, now known as the Pevensey Lev­els, would have been salt­marsh and flooded by the sea at hide tide. Over the sub­se­quent years, the shin­gle sea wall has been re­in­forced and drainage chan­nels and ditches dug to de­liver a wide open land­scape for stock-graz­ing and arable crops. Small reedbeds and marshes can still be found be­side the dykes, which sup­port a va­ri­ety of plant life, while winter rains re­sults in floods and flashes form­ing in sat­u­rated fields. Hooe Level is one of the more di­verse sec­tions of Pevensey Lev­els and, as such, parts have SSSI and NNR sta­tus, while there is also a small Sus­sex Wildlife Trust re­serve nearby. The fore­shore, golf links, scrub and a small wood all add to the habi­tat va­ri­ety, af­ford­ing a wide range of birds on of­fer through­out the walk here. The rough grass­land of the level is the per­fect spot for any in­com­ing Short-eared Owls or Mer­lins to hunt, while other rap­tors can in­clude Hen Har­rier and, in late af­ter­noons, Barn Owl. Feral goose flocks some­times at­tract a few White-fronts and oc­ca­sion­ally a Pink-foot or tun­dra Bean Goose, while Bewick’s Swans are not un­known, and keep an eye out for a win­ter­ing Great White Egret. Park­ing is lim­ited on the Hooe Level so it is ad­vis­able to park in Bex­hill-on-sea and fol­low the planned route. The fore­shore can de­liver waders and seabirds and once a rare Desert Wheatear, so keep an open mind along the way.

Barn Owl


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