Monday, 24 April 2017

24th April, 2017 Beachy Head Overcast cool SW 4-5

Yesterday two further sea-watches were carried out, the first for 2 hours during the afternoon by KG, and the second by RAB for 2.25 hrs and for some of the time by LP during the evening. These totals should be added to yesterday's sea-watch totals to obtain the final total for yesterday.

KG watch during yesterday afternoon recorded the following:
Red-throated Diver 5 E
Pomarine Skua 17 E
Arctic Skua 5 E
Bonxie 7 E
Little Gull 53 E

RAB and LP watch during yesterday evening recorded the following:
Gannet 8 E
Brent Goose 40 E
Pomarine Skua 1 E @ 18.05
Arctic Skua 5 E
Mediterranean Gull 83 E plus 2 on the sea.
Sandwich Tern 3 E
Whimbrel 11 E
Bar-tailed Godwit 1 E (525 waders E considered to be Bar-tailed Godwits were seen mainly in two large flocks high in the sky in V formation a long way out).

This morning the wind had veered to the SW with a cold front moving down from the North . We  sea-watched from 06.15-11.15. and we were joined during the latter part of the watch by Bob and Al which was useful as my eyes were now very tired. LP covered several of the main sites on the headland but could only find a few migrants. Bob covered Birling lane and Belle Tout wood but again just a few Willow Warblers and the odd Whitethroat.

Red-throated Diver 1 E
Gannet 52 mainly E
Brent Goose 35 E
Shelduck 2 E
Common Scoter 400 E
Velvet Scoter 21 E (parties 2,2,15,2)
Whimbrel 18 E
Pomarine Skua 1 E @ 06.55
Arctic Skua 11 E
Bonxie 4 E
Mediterranean Gull 11 E
Black-headed Gull 11 E
Kittiwake 95 E
Sandwich Tern 25 E
Comic Tern 40 E
Auk Sp. 2 E
Guillemot 2 E
Swallow 2 in off the sea
Common Whitethroat 1 in off the sea

As we were driving back home going over Exceat Bridge along the A259, a Red Kite was circling over the bridge with a Common Buzzard.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

23rd April, 2017 Beachy Head Overcast cold at first E-S 2-3

Meeting up with RE and RAB for a sea-watch from 06.00-09.30 we were also joined by LP for some of the watch. Record day numbers for Beachy of Mediterranean Gulls but otherwise fairly quiet during our watch. Needless to say on our drive back to Burgess Hill 2 Poms came on for Selsey, but by that time I was to tired to turn back.**
The area was very quiet for migrants with a Black Redstart at Birling being the best with most of the sites on the headland were covered including the Cliff Path.

** KG performed a 2 hr sea-watch during the afternoon, and RAB and LP sea-watched for 2.25 hrs during the evening. See the next days blog for details of their sea-watches 

Red-throated Diver 1 E
Gannet 23 E
Egret Sp 1 E @ 08.20, just to far out to sea for i/d.
Shelduck 1 E
Teal 3 E
Shoveller 2 E
Common Scoter 128 E
Common Buzzard 1
Kestrel 2
Peregrine 2
Bar-tailed Godwit 7 E
Whimbrel 24 E
Arctic Skua 2 E
Bonxie 5 E
Mediterranean Gull 135 E
Kittiwake 243 E
Sandwich Tern just 2 E
Auk Sp. 3 on the sea
Guillemot 4 E
Rock Pipit 1
Alba Wagtail 1 over
Black Redstart 1 female/imm. at Birling
Common Redstart 1 male
Wheatear 1
Chiffchaff 4
Willow Warbler 8
Raven 2

Record day for Mediterranean Gulls at Beachy

Female/Immature Black Redstart at Birling

Spitfire on a dive in Cow Gap.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

22nd April, 2017 Beachy Head Generally overcast NE 2 increasing to 3

With a NE wind we decided to skip with the sea-watch and met up with RE at Birling. We covered Birling lane and RE then covered Birling loop, Cornish farm track and Shooters Bottom. We covered Belle Tout wood, Old Trapping Area, Hotel Garden, Icky Ridge, Cliff Path, Went Hill Valley, and Shooters Bottom. LP also covered Belle Tout wood and Crowlink. Doreen spoke to Derek Barber who kindly inform Doreen that a Nightingale was singing near the Old Trapping Area which we manage to connect with. Many thanks Derek for that news.
A reasonable arrival with a nice variety of night migrants and the combined totals as follows:

Shag 8 (4 close in on the sea of  Cow Gap, and whilst I was watching these another 4 flew W)
Brent Goose 14 E
Common Scoter 40 E
Common Buzzard 1
Kestrel 2-3
Peregrine 2
Red-legged Partridge 5
Whimbrel 6 in top fields and departed E
Mediterranean Gull 30 E (flocks of 22 and 8)
Sandwich Tern 7 E
Tawny Owl 1
Swallow 10
Yellow Wagtail 2 over
White Wagtail 1 Crowlink (LP)
Nightingale 1 Near Old Trapping Area
Common Redstart 1 female Old Trapping Area
Whinchat 2 (1 Crowlink and 1 Went Hill Valley)
Wheatear 9
Ring Ouzel 1 male Cliff Path
Grasshopper Warbler  singing (1 side of Belle Tout Wood (LP) and 1 Birling (DB)
Reed Warbler 1 Hotel Garden (our earliest Spring record)
Lesser Whitethroat 1
Common Whitethroat 8
Garden Warbler 4
Blackcap 4
Chiffchaff 4
Willow Warbler 70
Corn Bunting 12+

A further visit this evening by LP to Shooters Bottom produced another singing Grasshopper Warbler and another female Common Redstart.

Gannet off Birling

 Male Wheatear with upto 9 seen today, this individual is showing  a
broad supercilium, rich orangey colouration to its entire
underparts and the brownish smudge on the mantle typical
of Greenland Wheatear.

Garden Warbler in shade at Birling, one of four seen today

Part of the party of 6 Whimbrel in the top fields.


They soon departed

Female Redstart in the Old Trapping Area


Male Ring Ouzel along the Cliff Path

A belated Easter Bunny for Doreen

Friday, 21 April 2017

21st April, 2017 Beachy Head Overcast mild SW 1-2

A glutton for punishment, we again sea-watched from 06.25-07.55 but again another very poor watch. Met up with GG who had just arrived and seen a Whinchat which we looked for but were unable to locate. We covered Birling lane, Belle Tout wood where we met up with LP who had covered a number of sites on the headland. We then called into see RHC at Hodcombe and covered his garden. Reasonable arrival of Willow Warblers and several Wheatears.

Gannet 10
Common Scoter 8 E
Common Buzzard 1
Arctic Skua 1 l/p spent some time chasing Kittiwakes before departing E
Mediterranean Gull 2 E
Sandwich Tern 1 E
Auk Sp. 3 on the sea
Tawny Owl 1
Swallow 10
Rock Pipit 2 feeding on short grass above Birling
Common Redstart 1 female (perLP)
Whinchat 1 at Birling (perGG) our first for the year.
Wheatear 7
Common Whitethroat 3
Blackcap 1
Chiffchaff 3
Willow Warbler 50+
Greenfinch 1 Hodcombe
Goldfinch 60

Brimstone 1
Small Copper 1

Swallow having a rest after just arriving

Larger and bulkier with a upright stance than the other Wheatears
present near by and possibly a Greenland race leucorhoa, although
I would like to see more buffy-peachy on the underparts to be certain.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

20th April, 2017 Beachy Head Sunny becoming cloudy and cold with murk out to sea. Wind variable

With the forecast promising a change from the NE wind to a light and variable wind, we decided to sea-watch from 06.00-07.45. Big mistake with virtually no movement recorded, I cannot recall when the weather looked so promising in mid-April, to see so little moving out to the sea. RE joined us for some of the time and he then went and covered Birling lane and Birling loop. LP was covering Whitbread Hollow, Cow Gap and the Gully. We covered Shooters Bottom, Old Trapping Area, Hotel Garden, Icky Ridge and the Cliff Path. In nice calm overcast conditions for looking for migrants, very few were seen although a Red Kite over the top fields just about saved the day.

Gannet 2 E
Shag 1 off Whitbread Hollow (per LP)
Canada Goose 2
Shelduck 5 E
Common Scoter 4 E
Red Kite 1 over the top fields and departed N @ 10.20
Common Buzzard 1
Kestrel 1
Peregrine 1 (caught a prey and landed in long grass close to the road)
Red-legged Partridge 5
Whimbrel 1 on beach
Mediterranean Gull 1
Sandwich Tern 2 E
Swallow 8
White Wagtail 1 (Belle Tout lighthouse and been present for around a fortnight)
Wheatear 1
Lesser Whitethroat 3
Common Whitethroat 6
Blackcap 1
Chiffchaff 4
Willow Warbler 9
Raven 2


Adult Peregrine which had just caught a prey and
landed in some long grass near the road

After several minutes it departed with prey

Just when you thought the sea-watch couldn't get any worse,
these two came swimming along!! I then gave up.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

19th April, 2017 Beachy Head and West Rise Marsh, Early frost becoming sunny but cool E-NE 4

A brief visit to Beachy meeting up with RE who was birding the Birling area. We covered Shooters Bottom and the Old Trapping Area and the only migrant we could find was a single Blackcap.

We therefore visited West Rise Marsh and recorded the following:
Long-tailed Duck 1
Sedge Warbler 3 singing
Cetti's Warbler 6 singing
small numbers of Swallows, House Martins and 1 Sand Martin

Red-legged Partridge at Birling

Bank of Field Mouse-ear flowers

Field Mouse-ear flower near the Old Trapping Area

Grey Heron West Rise Marsh


Female Long-tailed Duck at West Rise Marsh.
Strange at one time it seemed to be displaying
to this female Tufted Duck.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

18th April, 2017 Beachy Head Sunny but cold early morning becoming warmer NE 5-6 decreasing to 3-4

A very cold NE wind made birding unpleasant during the early morning but improved later. We covered Birling lane, Old Trapping Area, Hotel Garden, Icky Ridge, Cliff Path, Shooters Bottom, Belle Tout wood, where we met up with Richard Fairbank and his sister Ruth. They had walked from Crowlink to Shooters Bottom. The clear conditions and cold NE wind were not ideal for a fall of migrants although several small parties of Linnets moved E.

Kestrel 1
Peregrine 1
Tawny Owl 1
Swallow 6
Wheatear 3 (RJF)
Common Whitethroat 2
Blackcap 2
Chiffchaff 5
Willow Warbler 25
Linnet 50 (several small parties E)

Early Spider Orchid 2 in flower

Late news from yesterday: LP and friend again covered much of the area and had similar numbers to the previous day with the highlight being an adult male Hen Harrier which arrived from the sea at 08.50 and departed high to the N. Also 16 Yellow Wagtails N and 1 White Wagtail were seen.

Kestrel hovering

Early Spider Orchid