14.9.20 A Wryneck and 2 Osprey

A bright cloudless day with a building east wind throughout.

Not much in the way of passerines, perhaps too clear for them. I was surprised to learn Saturdays Wryneck was still present despite a busy weekend and a location choice that puts it right underneath walkers feet. It was nice to catch up with it. They’ve been very scarce here in recent autumns. The other highlight was an Osprey I picked up distantly which headed over Belle Tout lighthouse and out into the channel at 12:55 taking the same line as one seen at 11:25 by SL.

Other notables included c1500 House Martin, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, c20 Chiffchaff, c10 Common Whitethroat, 2 Hobby, c40 Siskin.

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A short raptor watch in moderate SSW winds and mostly clear skies didn’t even produce a White Stork today. A small number of Swallow tracked south and about 7 local Common Buzzard were seen loafing about the landscape.

I’ve been out and about this week mostly in the mornings but been very slack on blog up keep. Several afternoon raptor watches have yielded little beyond White Storks on the 5th and 11th September. Probably my best morning last week was the 11th were Birling Gap was busy; c2500 House Martin, 1 late Swift, 2 Tree Pipit, c 40 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, c30 Common Whitethroat, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Redstart, 1 Whinchat, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, my first Firecrest of the autumn along Birling Lane, a single Redpoll and many Siskin heard passing overhead. The best passerine of the week was a Wryneck seen by TC near the pub on the 12th.

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1.9.20 and 30.8.20

A bright morning with scattered cloud. A light east wind.

A much quieter day today although still some interest around. I covered most sites from the pub to Birling. There was a steady stream of Swallows and Martins that continued into late morning probably numbering several thousand birds (75% Swallow, 23% Sand Martin and 2% House Martin), 1 Golden Plover over, 7 Common Redstart, 4 Whinchat, 1 Wheatear, 6 Chiffchaff, 20 Common Whitethroat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 10 Blackcap. A Red Kite drifted over mid morning. Another look late afternoon proved very quiet with 4 Swift being the sole highlight.

31.8.20 the last day of August proved to be quite good with a decent arrival of birds over night. Highlights included 8+ Pied Flycatcher, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 6 Redstart, Merlin, Hobby, 3 Short eared Owls whilst RHC had a Wood Warbler at Hodcombe.

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A drop in the infernal sw gales that have been battering the headland and killing the birding. Bright at first sw wind dropping becoming cloud by midday.

The best morning for Common Redstart so far, I personally had 8 individuals in various locations, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Whinchat, 5/6 Yellow Wagtail, 20 Sand Martin south, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Hobby.

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A slight reduction in the strong SW wind which allowed a few more nocturnal migrants to move around than the previous two days.

A surprising amount of birds in less windy conditions this morning. Highlights being 2 Redstart, c30 Willow Warbler, c60 Yellow Wagtail most of which were around the feet of the cattle along the Cornish Farm track.

23rd: Strong SW wind. The only thing of note was a Hobby chasing a small number of Sand Martin over Cornish Farm.

22nd: Strong SW. A Pied Flycatcher and a Redstart at Belle Tout on a very windy day.

21st: light/moderate SW and warm. The first day where a congregation of autumn hirundines was apparent over the headland with at least c100 Swallow and c50 Sand Martin around the top fields behind the pub, they were also joined by c50 Swift.

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Overnight rain in the early hours, relatively still conditions with a slight easterly, cloudier and cooler than of late.

The overnight rain had improved the bird situation on the headland. With limited time at hand I only visited Shooters Bottom and the bushed around the pub. An enjoyable morning with many birders now on the headland as the season progresses. Im sure totals & diversity were higher than my personal ones below.

Highlights for me included 4 Common Redstart, 2 Nightingale, 2 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Garden Warbler, 3 Reed Warbler, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, 35 Common Whitethroat, 15+ Willow Warbler, 2 flyover Yellow Wagtail.

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Another bright and very hot day with a moderate east wind at first which seemed quite localised.

Migrant numbers were low this morning, the current conditions not conducive to producing numbers of Willow Warbler although curiously Pied Flycatchers are still appearing, birds I’d assume to be British but with the lack of supporting commoner migrants I wonder if these birds could be continental. With new birds still turning up on day 3 or 4 of the current easterly airflow. Today saw 2 birds on the headland along with two Common Redstart. The only migrant in numbers were Common Whitethroat with 30+ present around the top bushes and old trapping area. 3 Willow Warbler, single Reed and Sedge Warblers along with a single passing Tree Pipit made up the supporting cast. During a brief lunchtime visit, a juvenile Marsh Harrier headed out to sea at 14:05 over Shooters.

Earlier in the week JFC found a Melodious Warbler which put in a brief appearance in the pub garden on the 10th. I can’t help but feel short changed we didn’t get an Icterine Warbler in light of the current influx, although not wishing to devalue the find, still and excellent scarcity. I think almost a decade has passed since Beachy Heads last Icterine. Also on that date saw 11 Crossbill pass over east and a Hen Harrier (RB) briefly graced the belle tout area. Otherwise most morning visits this week have been fairly run of the mill.

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29.7.20 An early Pied Flycatcher

Recent strong winds abated overnight, the day dawned clear and bright with almost no detectable wind.

Looking west along the cliffs from near the pub.

Pied Flycatcher on the eastern edge of Belle Tout Wood.

Last night brought text book conditions to facilitate a movement of birds. At this time of year, fine weather (especially proceeded by poor) often brings birds to Beachy Head. From the get go the bushes around the pub and radio mast were lively. There were even Willow Warbler feeding on the cliff face. With no significant falls earlier in the year it made today the best day for numbers so far. It also brought the earliest Pied Flycatcher that I’ve seen here. Personal totals included 63 Willow Warbler, 40+ Common Whitethroat, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Reed Warbler, 4 Sedge Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 1 Common Redstart, 1 Nightingale, 3 Black Redstart (family party on the cliff face), 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 12 Sand Martin & 1 House Martin through the site, the first migrant raptor of the autumn in the shape of a smart juvenile Marsh Harrier. A 1cy Yellow-legged Gull flew west early on.

Marsh Harrier circling bullock down before heading east.

Yellow Wagtail in with the cattle along the Cornish Farm track, one also flew over calling.

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26.7.20 A trickle of Willow Warbler

A bright morning backed by a strong SW wind, the previous day being dull, occasionally wet and windy.

A mid-morning visit where initial signs from the old trapping area mislead me to believe there had been a significant fall of birds with at least 12 Willow Warbler actively feeding and even singing. A loop from there to the radio mast return proved it was in fact relatively quiet, seeing only a single Willow Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat. There were only about 15 Willow Warbler across all sites. Belle Tout area held 2 Lesser Whitethroat, the lingering Common Redstart (present since the 21st, there was also a juv Wheatear on the 22nd) and at least 4 Robin (there seems to have been a small incursion of Robin over the last week). Other notables were a single Nightingale croaking in Shooters and a Grasshopper Warbler (RB) near the water trough there.

Two juv. Pied Wagtail were on the path at Belle Tout one of which was leucistic.

Making the most of a wet day yesterday, I spent some time looking at the gulls at Princes Park where I found a nice Yellow-legged Gull amongst the Herring Gulls. The first to be seen there this summer. They have been a little thin on the ground here compared to other years.

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13.7.20 Yellow-legged Gull Eastbourne.

Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull

My first Yellow-leg of the summer and coming 12 days after my first in 2019. Seems to have been an arrival into the south since the 11th July.

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