Monday 11 September 2023

Aquatic Warbler at Upper Beeding in West Sussex

I had a difficult day yesterday looking out for my father in law and was in no condition to drive the 80 miles to Upper Beeding in West Sussex when news came through of an Aquatic Warbler showing intermittently. I was in as bad a place physically as when the Landguard bird dropped and just couldn't manage the drive but I hatched a plan with the Jims that we would go on positive news this morning and so after the first couple of sightings we headed around the M25 and down the M23 this morning setting off around 8.45am we arrived in the High Street at Upper Beeding at 10.30am and set about walking the 900 yards up the east side of the river to find a crowd of around 30 birders and news that the bird hadn't been seen since about 10am. 

We stood quiet scanning the Hawthorn that we were told the Aquatic Warbler had settled in when last seen but had no sign in the first hour or so until two local women (non birders) walked along the path and passed the bush flushing the bird to give our first sighting as it flew first low to the left then back behind the bush and over the path. It later flew along the fence-line before hopping back over the path and into the grass on the river bank where it stayed hidden for an hour.

Aquatic Warbler at Upper Beeding West Sussex

I spotted movement in the grass and alerted the few birders around me and shortly after the bird flew a short hop to some Hogweed before making its way up to the top posing for a few pictures and then flying back along the river bank and dropping back out of sight in the grass. A couple of views were had in the next hour as it flew across the river a couple of times before returning to the Hawthorn and then flying back into the field where it disappeared for several hours. We left at 1.30pm and it wasn't seen again until late afternoon.

We picked up a year tick with a Spotted Flycatcher in the trees along the river and had two Yellow Wagtails, a Kingfisher and Raven whilst waiting for the Warbler to show.

Aquatic warblers used to be much easier to connect with in the UK but over the last few years they have taken on a new status and are now almost a Mega find usually trapped in nets and released with no further sign so to connect with this bird and see it so well is really pleasing.

Year list now 215
Life list now 440


  1. Fabulous photos and encounter Brian, chances of getting one up north are very slim, a much wanted lifer there for me...

  2. Thanks Stewart, not many twitch opportunities these days so I was really pleased to connect with this showy little fella for sure.