A quiet morning, a single Reed Warbler singing neat Belle Tout. Lot’s of recently fledged Linnet and Swallow out of the nest and being tended to. Marbled White and Dark Green Fritillary butterfly now on the wing across the headland. 6 Sand Martin were mixing with the local Swallows early evening. A sure sign of early south bound migrants.
A Cuckoo was seen near Belle Tout by Jake on the 18th June, an early departure no doubt. The Nightingale which has been with us since mid-April, has been heard again over the last 5 days. RHC had the second Golden Oriole of the spring on 8th June, a late Willow Warbler was heard on that date too. My first Hummingbird Hawkmoth of the year was seen on the 9th.
Almost unbelievable it’s June already, a month which can produce the odd scarcity here but undeniably marks a change of season with spring now in full transition towards midsummer. The whole area now in lush green hues.
Mornings are now often quiet birdwise but I remain hopefully. Today had a contextual feel with 2 out of habitat Reed Warblers singing (one in the hollow the other at Belle Tout) a Sedge Warbler sang enthusiastically opposite Shooters along with a newly arrived Willow Warbler, all of these birds without a hope of breeding this year, perhaps all of them being young, second calendar year birds explaining their late arrival. Hard to discount the small number of Swallow seen weren’t local breeders, although 2 passing Swift and a House Martin I took to be migrants.
A wet start with heavy showers, wind strengthening SW with broken cloud.
A typical late May day, very few migrants to be seen although a singing Willow Warbler below Belle Tout and a Sedge Warbler in Shooters, along with 2 Spotted Flycatcher showed passage still continues. Two utterly mundane mentions, just because of their scarcity on the headland, 3 Jay and 4 Collared Dove!
A fine day, fog crept in for an hour early on, slight SSE wind, warm.
An eclectic mix of birds today, nothing super scarce but some oddities all the same. Andrew Whitcomb had a Hawfinch and Cuckoo early on, there were a couple of “out of habitat” singing Reed Warbler. AW and I spent a bit of time skywatching where 6 Red Kite made a few passes of the headland, a Hobby and a surprise female Hen Harrier passed through to the east late morning, a late spring date for it not to have been a rarer harrier species. Hen Harrier have proved to be inexplicably scarce here since I started watching in 2014.
Standard fare this morning, a very light passage of Swallow east, 4 Swift passed over west, all the local breeders present and preoccupied. A singing Willow Warbler near the pub was late for that species, KG and a Hobby in the hollow and AW had 3 Red Kite.
The day started still and overcast, heavy rain followed by clearer skies and a building SW wind.
The rain held off longer than forecast but was too wet for birding by 08.45am, nothing much was seen bar 12 Swallow and 2 House Martin passing through (discounting local breeders). I returned for an hour at lunch and was rewarded by picking up 2 Bee-eater passing overhead at 14.46hrs, a little high but still exciting. They briefly circled over Hodcomb together before drifting off east. I think Bee-eaters are a great find experience, first the distinctive calls, then the panic of trying to locate them followed by the relief of clapping eyes on them. Within a minute or two they had moved on, as is their way, always leaving you wanting a bit more time with them.
It’s my 4th encounter with these birds in recent years, with a total of 11 individuals seen and one occasion involved a “heard-only” record which could have been 1 or more birds. All fly overs bar a singleton that lingered for over an hour in May 2015.
Light winds and a very wet start to the day after the first hour of light, drying up with a building SW wind.
A quiet theme continues despite the weather looking promising, very few migrants seen just 10 Swallow and a House Martin over Birling Gap before the rain set it. Whilst I was on the headland mid afternoon, 6 perhaps 7 Red Kite drifted over west. Thats not to say the headland is not buzzing with the activity of breeding birds, many Common Whitethroat and at least 5 Lesser Whitethroat are singing away, the Nightingale remains in Shooters and broods of recently fledged Stonechat are beginning to appear.
The previous day was also fairly pedestrian with a low fly by Hobby over Shooters whilst a Reed Warbler was in song there, an increase in the number of Painted Lady than the day before which at least suggested the weather was good for potential migrants.
Although it was a lovely morning it was bereft of any avian excitement. 8 migrant Painted Lady Butterflies had arrived (all sun bleached from time in sunnier climes) which I took to be a good sign, although a brief appearance of a Cuckoo below Belle Tout was about the only highlight bird wise, the Nightingale is still singing in Shooters, a Siskin went over and a very slow trickle of Swallow passed east.
Clear skies very light winds at first with a building southerly by midmorning.
I’m not sure how meaningful things like this are for others but I’ve been wanting to see Golden Oriole up here for quite sometime, finding them harder to come by than more traditional scarcities like Bee-eater and Melodious Warbler. Funnily enough the bird was almost on the exact date and in the exact location I’ve always been told to expect one. I initially heard a single call, the harsh nasal “mew”come from a substantial clump of Blackthorn, Privet and Elder. Just as my mind was processing it a second call came as the bird launched from cover and gave a prolonged flight view as it flew across the upper edge of the hollow alighting in a sparse sycamore that was just coming into leaf. Despite tearing around to that stand of trees I didn’t hear or see the bird again. It appeared to be either a female or immature male, being lime green in appearance. I also had a Whinchat, 3 Spotted Flycatcher and a singing Reed Warbler.
A Red-rumped Swallow was seen around Holcomb mid afternoon (RC). Yesterday, 13th May I had 6 Spotted Flycatcher at various spots on the headland and a Siskin over.
Clear skies a variable SE wind throughout the day still by evening.
Looking at the weather it was almost guaranteed, a large movement of Pomarine Skua along the south coast seemed a certainty, unfortunately I missed most of it! I joined RAB, JE, CB and KG at Birling Gap. I only had pre and post-work hours to indulge and only managed to see just 16 out of the whopping 82 seen. I’ll post RAB’s trektellen count below which includes the whole days counts. It was also another big day for tern passage up channel.