Lesser Florican - August 2023

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Saturday 11 December 2021

Little Bunting at Iping Common - 11th December 2021

It's been a relatively hectic few months with guiding for Naturetrek, and now with my feet firmly on the ground for a few weeks, this has enabled me a fraction more time to go birding. Of course, I remain loyal to Sussex and so I had planned a short circuit for this morning around the north-west of the county.

I started at Stanley Common but this was exceptionally quiet with just a handful of Brambling being the only noteworthy species. A short drive away near to Milland, a short walk produced a decent view of a male Goshawk and five male Crossbills.

I was going to give up on the day, but with Iping Common just over the hill it seemed silly not to give it a quick visit, especially as I had Great Grey Shrike on the brain. Sadly none of these, but entering the common, I soon mulled over how similar the habitat appeared to that at Thursley Common, and quickly, the thought of finding a rare bunting entered my mind. Literally seconds later, whilst looking at a Reed Bunting atop a Birch Tree, a smaller bunting popped up next to it showing off bright, chestnut-coloured cheeks (Orange-cheeked Waxbill like ;-)). Being at a distance and without a scope or camera, it wasn't easy viewing but the obvious dark flecking on the breast was enough for me. Thankfully though, and to clinch the identification without seeing the black border to the ear coverts, the Little Bunting flew and started calling... BOOM!

After a couple of circles overhead, the bunting flew off but I knew it'd be back, so I went and grabbed the scope (I left the camera with three flat batteries!) and returned to the same spot. After wandering and checking every bunting, the Little came back into view and showed well for ten minutes allowing some more video and photos to be taken. I then called it a day and returned home, but delighted with finding a scarcity so far away from the coast, with the added highlights today of a Goshawk, Crossbills, Brambings and Dartford Warblers.

Little Buntings in Sussex have been somewhat frequent in recent years, with three this year and two last year, but this is still a pleasing 'find tick' and very unexpected.

Little Bunting at Iping Common