20.04.21 Ring Ouzel

Almost no wind, hazy at first clearing quickly.

Covering Shooters and the Belle Tout area proved there had been a continued & modest arrival of birds. A female Ring Ouzel the highlight and good to see after last years very poor spring. A female Common Redstart at Belle Tout with at least 30+ Willow Warbler throughout. Yellowhammer still lurking above the wood along with a single Wheatear. RB had a Great Egret west at 09.50 along with 5 male Wheatear on Bullock Down.

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19.04.21 More Willow Warbler

A murky start, rapidly clearing light E wind.

Limited time this morning, decent number of Willow Warbler between the pub and Shooters Bottom. About 35+ of these silver tongued wanderers. Singing Blackcap and Whitethroat in Shooters too. The Raven chicks are close to fledging from the cliff above the lighthouse, a maiden flight you don’t want to get wrong!

Other recent bits worth a mention, Common Redstart on the 18th along with a pair of Yellowhammer at Belle Tout (surprising rare here), Yellow Wagtail over on the 16th.

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15.04.21 Cold Springs

Clear skies at first, a ground frost and an ice cold NE wind.

The exceptionally cold spring weather continues. Very little to see in terms of migrants, 2 Chiffchaff, a male Black Redstart below the lighthouse, a Wheatear in the same location, a small flock of 7 Mediterranean Gull east. Yesterday (14th) was slightly better for passerines with a male Common Redstart and c45 Willow Warbler seen. A similar feel to the 13th April with another Common Redstart in Shooters and a similar number of Willow Warbler seen.

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09.04.21 Micro fall of Willow Warbler.

Light SW wind clear to begin with.

A small arrival of Willow Warbler with aprroximately 20+ between Belle Tout and Shooters Bottom, nice to hear their song coming from the wood as I approached. A small number in comparison to a decent fall but still better than any morning last spring, the first of spring House Martin passed through north along 3 Swallow, the first Whitethroat were also seen (RB) Yesterday saw a singing Black Redstart at the pub, another at Belle Tout and the first Tree Pipit passed over.

Willow Warbler feeding on the ground in spring is something they don’t do here in autumn. I assume the early spring Hawthorn and Blackthorn, with their lack of leaves, offer little for newly arrived migrants to feed amongst.

I went on to West Rise in the afternoon where 10 Wheatear were behind the cow shed field.

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07.04.21 Cold migrants

A cold & bitting NW wind this morning and a continuing dearth of migrants upon Beachy Head. A ground frost along with frozen water in the cattle troughs.

The sum total of todays migrants was a single Chiffchaff between Birling, Belle Tout and Shooters! Incredible given the date, even the drip of inbound Swallow seems to have slowed to zero. Linnets are now plentiful and along with much smaller numbers of Goldfinch and Chaffinch make up most of the visible passerine activity. A female type Black Redstart and Willow Warbler at Belle Tout on the 4th April constituted the only notable recent sightings!

Thankfully West Rise is close at hand which at least gives the bird seeker something to point the bino’s at! Today a mixed hirundine flock of about 45 birds, single Water Pipit and 3 White Wagtail were the only notables for me.

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03.04.21 Red-rumped Swallow at West Rise

Having not been in town when Al Redman initially found it and the bird having flown off at 08.15am, I had little or no hope of the bird reappearing 10 hrs after it was last seen. More so to kill the last hours of light, I called in at West Rise. Finding 100+ Swallows and Sand Martins present I dully went through the motions of looking through them. After seeing nothing of interest, a distant Yellow Wagtail on the opposite side of the lake encouraged me to complete a circuit. As I walked around I noticed a few House Martin (first of the year for me) appear and seconds later caught sight of the Red-rumped which performed brilliantly overhead, often too close to photograph. Felt odd, lying on my back enjoying this Mediterranean delicacy dressed in a heavy down jacket & woolly hat along with chilly fingers all whilst my first Sedge Warbler of the spring sang close by.

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29.03.21 Earliest ever Redstart.

Still a strong south westerly blowing at first, waining and switching light SE by dusk, mainly fine.

It wasn’t overflowing with migrants but there were some new names on the menu this morning. Liz Charlwood heard a Cuckoo calling from Shooters Bottom and Keith Hackett found an early Redstart near the pub. It’s the earliest one I’ve ever seen in the UK. A modest supporting cast in the form of 2 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, Firecrest, a Red Kite west and 3 Swallows arriving in off the channel. A quick afternoon visit to West Rise were another 3 Swallow and 3 Wheatear were seen plus a singing Willow Warbler in the willows near the entrance gate.

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27.03.21 Black-tailed Godwit West Rise

A late afternoon visit to West Rise where c10 Sand Martin passed through the site and my first Swallow of spring lingered over head. A beautiful Black tailed Godwit was on Lottebridge Drove Pool. A lone bird that really wasn’t fussed by my company although a dog walker allowing their alsatian to romp in the fringes of the pool pushed it up towards the west end of the lake where I left it in peace.

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26.03.21 Seabirds

A very bright, brief and blustery seawatch from Birling Gap for an hour at about 9am in a strong S to SSW wind.

I made no specific counts and only had binoculars many birds were way out but there was a steady stream of Kittiwake visible. I could comfortably call c20 Sandwich Tern passing within range of the optics as well as c30 Common Scoter and c40 Brent Geese. There were also many Common and Black-headed Gull heading east too. 3 Red throated Diver and a fine reasonably close Black throated Diver. Very little on land bar a heavily pollen laden Chiffchaff in the wood. A brief late evening visit to West Rise where c20 Sand Martin were feeding over the lake in the gloom of last light.

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25.03.21 Wheatears and Alba Wagtails.

A late afternoon visit to the headland with increasing cloud cover, a rain shower and brisk SW wind.

White Wagtail

Although the ploughed field at Birling Gap has lost its appeal for the gulls it has attracted a flock of about 12 alba wagtails with a 50/50 split between White and Pied Wagtail both such lovely birds. The two Wheatear reported earlier in the day where still present behind the pub. Having seen one briefly fly across the road on the 17th it was good to savour these two, even if they were quite inactive and hunkered down against the wind. There were also 2 Black Redstart in the pub carpark.

White and Pied Wagtails

Pied Wagtail

One of the Wheatear behind the pub.
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