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Steve Berry's Birds of Kingston
Steve Berry has put together a wonderful series on birds in and around Kingston. These articles are being printed in the Kingston News. Click on the thumbnail pictures to see larger versions!

Part 1 - The Green Woodpecker and the Snow Bunting
The following species accounts are based mainly on the observations of Kingston residents. The term Kingston is used here to mean the area within the parish boundary rather than just the village itself.

Areas are referred to by what are understood to be the names in general local use. Where there is no such known name, what seems like a suitable a name has been invented.

The areas concerned are, in alphabetical order:
  • Ash Wood – the copse south of the village, below the “horseshoe” footpath
  • Dewponds - the established dewponds to the east of the footpath at the top of Kingston Hill that leads to the nature reserve
  • Downs Copse – the group of trees immediately below Kingston hill
  • Gorse thicket – the scrubby area of gorse to the east of the Downs footpath leading from The Street.
  • The Rookery – the copse at the end of The Street
  • Lewes Brooks – the grazing marsh to the east of the C7 road connecting Lewes and Newhaven
Green Woodpecker

A line drawing of the Green Woodpecker

This species certainly breeds within the parish and there may be two or more pairs in some years. Green woodpeckers are rather sedentary other than in extreme weather conditions. The juvenile birds always present on the Downs at the end of the breeding season in the summer are therefore almost certainly raised in Kingston. The old anthills on the chalk grassland are an obvious attraction here, ants being this woodpecker’s staple diet. One pair probably pair breeds in Ash Wood. Green woodpeckers can be heard and seen almost anywhere in the village and at any time of the year but they are noisiest in spring. They are frequently encountered in The Avenue, often perched on telegraph poles or on front lawns and have even been seen in Bramleys. It is possible that they may breed in some large gardens with mature trees.

Snow Bunting

The snow bunting is the size of a yellowhammer. Males in breeding plumage are mainly white but even in their duller winter outfits have strikingly white patches on the wings, with black wingtips. Just a 100 or so breed in the Scottish mountains. Birds from Iceland, Greenland and Scandinavia winter in Britain, but mostly on the east coast. These birds rarely come inland.

Kingston is not, therefore, an obvious stopping place for a snow bunting and it is not surprising that there is only one record. A first year male stayed for at least two days from 18 October 2004. The bird seems to have spent almost the whole of this time in the immediate vicinity of the dewponds, often near or actually among a pile of chalk fragments, where blended in almost perfectly with its surroundings. It sometimes attached itself to a group of meadow pipits.

The bird was extremely approachable and allowed observers to take the photographs below.

Snow Bunting Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting

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