14th August 2017

A crystal clear night preceded an equally serene morning with a little easterly breeze.

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The view south out to sea this morning.

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A pristine Tree Pipit in Shooters this morning. Although I find the sound of them passing overhead very evocative and pleasing, it’s a rare treat to see them well on the ground here.

A strange morning where it seemed deathly quiet first thing with a burst of activity and numbers in Shooters Bottom at around 08.30am. Highlights were 2 CommoRedstart (one being the same male present since the 11th) 1 Whinchat, 5 Wheatear, 2/3 Tree Pipit, 2 Yellow Wagtail over (first I have seen this autumn) only c10 Willow Warbler, some c60+ Whitethroat, 2 Sedge Warbler. Hirundine numbers building with some fence lines gathering small flocks, c150 Swallow with c35 Sand Martin, some of the latter loafing, some groups high out to sea. A solitary Swift also passed through.

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Swallow & a few Sand Martin just north of Shooters.

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Female Common Redstart moving through the strip of Hawthorn between OTA and Shooters.

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Willow Warbler in Shooters.

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The male Common Redstart still in the clump next to the double parking bays west of the pub. Still giving the same obstructed views! A Pied Flycatcher was reported in Shooters making it the third one I’ve failed to see in the last few days.

A late evening visit to Shooters produced a calling Nightingale and a flock of c150 Swift descended to feed on a fly-ant hatch. At times passing at head height complete with whooshing sound effects!

 

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11th August 2017

Cloud clearing to give way to a fine morning, a little NW breeze early on.

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Female Common Redstart and Willow Warbler.

As usual I covered the area around the pub, associated bushes between there and the old trapping area, then half way along to Shooters Bottom and back. General feeling was of a reasonably lively morning, the previous night had some clear spells but more importantly it was calm. Inert calm weather seems to work well here this time of year to allow, what can be safely assumed to be, UK breeding birds to make haste on their journey southward.

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A very vocal but very camera shy male Common Redstart.

A few autumn firsts were logged, I had 2 Tree Pipit over and JFC bagged the first Pied Flycatcher and Yellow Wagtails of the season. In addition to that I had 2 Common Redstart, c30 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, c10 Reed Warbler, c65 Whitethroat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Grasshopper Warbler flushed from underfoot and 2 Wheatear.

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Wheatear “up top”.

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10th August 2017 More bloody Larids

I’m assuming there maybe some interest in seeing a few more gull shots from Eastbournes’ Princes Park? Well, you can always go and watch Love Island re-runs if you’d rather. Todays new bird was not the commonly perceived caricature of a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull but an obvious one none-the-less. It’s good to be reminded there’s often variation within large gulls.

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New boy.

I think, owing to it’s size this was a male and more impressive in flight than on the water.  Unlike the really nice, contrasty bird thats been present since the 28th July, this one differs in several ways. Overall all it’s a tad warmer in tone and less white about the neck and head. It shows variation in the tertial pattern, having more extensive white at the tip but the basal portion is still constantly unmarked. Greater coverts are well notched throughout which is not always the case in YLG’s, they are often more solidly centred. One glaring YLG feature is the degree of moult in the mantle and scapulars. Lot’s for a juvenile in early August. But that feature will soon become redundant as some Herring Gulls being to moult in a few weeks.

 

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Inflight it’s as obvious a Yellow-leg as you could wish for.

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9th August 2017 The last few days…

A continuation of (the now very tiresome) atlantic influenced weather with the windier periods broken by short spells of relatively still conditions & occasional heavy rain showers.

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Lesser Whitethroat being ringed at the Hollow ringing station. Manned by a small number of committed early risers, thanks to Bob and co.

Willow Warbler continue to pass in moderate numbers with no major falls. Both Blackcap and Garden Warblers can be found easily, the former will become very apparent later in the season. Nightingale can now be encountered with ease, showing up a few days later then usual with max counts of 4/5 about the headland. Common Whitethroat numbers are being bolstered by passage birds now with, for example, at least c50 in the Hollow on the 9th. A single Redstart (RE) today could signal the beginning of a more regular presence from them as we continue into August and surely the first Pied Flycatcher is imminent.

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Nightingale.

A typical view of a Nightingale on Beachy Head. Mostly obscured if seen at all. There’s something quite odd about the wooden croaking they are so inclined to make this time of  year. I quite like it.

Below is an image reproduced from the BTO website showing the route of a Nightingale fitted with a GPS tag in 2009. It’s safe to assume our Beachy birds will be taking a similar route to a similar destination.

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5th August 2017 Osprey

An Osprey over the garden at 12.35pm proved to be bird of the day despite technically being “at work” indoors!. Again, if not for the gulls it would have passed unnoticed. It looked like an adult, or least not a juvenile, and on an early date too. This date last year also produced a Honey Buzzard over the garden, which again was an early autumn surprise.

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Above and below todays Osprey. Arriving low from the north then reorienting, heading off south west into Beachy Head airspace. A good addition to the garden list. After missing them completely in 2016 it was nice to have an encounter with one so early in autumn.

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I only birded the Hollow this morning and relatively rapidly due to work commitments. Highlights being a Nightingale, 4 Whinchat, c25 Willow Warbler, 4 Reed Warbler, 3 Garden Warbler, c35 Whitethroat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, c200 Swift high up and 6 Sand Martin west.

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Willow Warblers are now well and truly on the move with what felt like another modest arrival. Always a pleasure to watch these birds rapidly flit through the bushes and grassy areas of the headland, as they pass onwards on their journey south.

 

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1st August 2017 First fall of the autumn.

It’s August. I think I can start saying “autumn” and not feel like I’m ushering summer out of the door!

Clear skies and light winds overnight created a window for a small fall of birds, I say small as I only spent my 3 hours this morning around the top bushes and old trapping area. The totals across the headland will have been much higher. A couple of heard only waders passing over included Dunlin & Ringed Plover. Only 11 Sand Martin south by 09.30.

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At points the bushes were hopping with Willow Warbler with 54 seen. The bushes between the pub and old trapping area are often great on mornings like this with constant movement of birds passing through them.

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Willow Warbler.

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Willow Warbler.

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9 Sedge Warbler seen amongst good numbers of other Acro. warbler this morning.

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13 Reed Warbler in total this one in the old trapping area.

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My first Grasshopper Warbler of the autumn and the first one I’ve seen this year, following on from 2 spring passage singers in late April that remained concealed in cover. I love their big pink feet. This one called alot too, something I’ve not heard often. A hard “pit” kind of call. Quite unusual under tail coverts, they seem especially blotchy on this bird?

 

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30th July 2017 Cuckoo

I spent most of the day working and cycling but I got out late evening. The Yellow-legged Gull was still at Princes Park and things were generally quiet on the headland. This Cuckoo sat out briefly set against the late evening sun. Quite a beautiful thing. It was flying in-between the electric fence post opposite Shooters, occasionally getting a bit of stick from a Meadow Pipit. Judging From the markings about the head it appears to be the same bird that showed up last Sunday, which has done a great vanishing act for the last 6 days!

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Juvenile Cuckoo.

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The Princes Park Yellow-legged Gull is proving fairly reliable since showing up on the 28th. I really thought we were going to draw a blank on these this summer. They were regular at the lake from the 9th July last summer so almost 20 days later this year and as yet in much small numbers.

 

 

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