11.09.22 Honey Buzzards

Mostly clear light SE wind.

A number of obs. out today AR, AW, ME, JMS, SL, and myself. Raptors stole the show with 4 Honey Buzzard (2 adults & 2 juvenile) seen throughout our 4hr raptor watch, 3 Marsh Harrier (2cy male, adult male and a juvenile), Hobby, 15+ Sparrowhawk, 8+ Kestrel, an uncounted number of numerous Common Buzzard. In the bushes a mix of the usual warbler species for the season along with 2 Common Redstart, 1 Pied Flycatcher. Several thousand mixed hirundines. 50+ Yellow Wagtail and c12 Tree Pipit over.

Below the closest of todays Honey Buzzard, a juvenile at 12.15hrs.

Yesterday, the 10th Sept. saw 3 Black Redstart in shooters, 2 late Swift making up the merge highlights.

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A humid day, broken cloud, sunny spells with light SE winds.

The morning felt great, although I cleaved off a large amount of available time trying to see a Wryneck found by ES, just east of Belle Tout wood, which was a waste of time. Although I did have a fleeting encounter with it later in the afternoon. They can be such fickle birds. With RAB finding one at the pub on the 2nd Sept and another at Crow link (AK) the same day, it seems like a return to form for them this autumn. Other totals included 11 Whinchat, 1 Wheatear, a Common Redstart, Nightingale, 8 Willow Warbler, 15 Blackcap, 15 Common Whitethroat. 10 Grey Wagtail over, along with 1000 mixed hirundines over two visits.

Having a bit of unexpected free time I headed down to West Rise at midday where I saw the Spotted Crake (found by AW on the on the 3rd) twice in an hours hot and humid vigil. It seemed very timid whilst I was there. A 1cy Yellow-legged Gull was on the lake, I didn’t check the sleeping eclipse ducks for the Garganey as I was too damn hot. Two Black tailed Godwits were also present.

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Foggy start, rapid clearing. Light northerly turning SW by afternoon.

A very good morning for numbers, mostly seemed centred around Birling. Personal totals 55+ Willow Warbler, 80+ Common Whitethroat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 20 Blackcap, 2 Reed Warbler, 3 Sedge Warbler, 2 Wheatear, 6 Whinchat, 6 Common Redstart, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 40+ Yellow Wagtail, 2 Tree Pipit, AB had two Spoonbill circle the pub at 08.40 and 2 Pied Flycatcher along the edge of the hollow. Several 100 Swallow, Sand Martin and House Martin were seen along with 5 Swift.

At 12.20hrs Simon Linington called to say a Honey Buzzard had just gone east over the headland which I luckily saw circling over the garden in Eastbourne. I joined him during lunch where at least two more Honey Buzzard were seen distantly to the NE. I suspect the SW wind was pushing birds east of the headland. More unexpectedly was a dark Arctic Skua found circling high inland which eventually drifted towards us and out to sea. Thanks to Simon for the calls.

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A dramatic change to the weather overnight, going from a warm and still evening to torrential downpours backed by a north wind by morning. A obvious downing of migrants in what was a brief look in-between heavy showers.

A cluster of activity mostly around the pub that included 3 Pied Flycatcher, 5 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Wheatear, 30+ Common Whitethroat, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Reed Warbler, 2 Sedge Warbler, 15 Willow Warbler, a single Sparrowhawk and a Hobby seen.

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A little bit of a round of what has been an eventful few days on the headland.

Above one of Alex Brookes’ Honey Buzzard from the 18th, quite a strikingly pale female.

The 16th saw a Dotterel (AR) pass north over the radio mast at 06.57. The 17th saw 18 Wheatear around the pub, Spotted Flycather and Common Redstart in Shooters Bottom. The 18th brought at least 3 Pied flycatcher between the pub and Shooters and later that day, 2 Honey Buzzard appeared over the headland (AB) both females, the paler being seen again on the 19th (JE). The 20th saw another Dotterel heard 5/6 times over the pub at 07.55 but try as I might I couldn’t locate the bugger above me, a later raptor watch produced 10 loafing Common Buzzard, 4 Kestrel, 3 Sparrowhawk and mostly pleasing, an adult male Hen Harrier which circled high over the headland moving off to the ENE at 12:30hrs. In general, warbler numbers have been as expected with Common Whitethroat numbers high, no bumper falls of Willow Warbler. The odd Whinchat here and there. Yellow Wagtail numbers building to 20+ on the 20th.

Wheatear in an ungainly pose
Common Whitethroat
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A light SW airflow with some patchy low cloud cover.

A quiet morning for me, with just a Whinchat in Shooters amongst the run-of-the-mill autumn warblers whilst RAB had the first Osprey of the season south over the radio mast at 06:40hrs.

The previous few days have seen a minimum of 4 Pied Flycatcher arriving on the headland and a Spotted Fly‘ on the 14th. Later the same day I had 4 Whinchat a single Yellow Wagtail and 2 Wheatear along Cornish Farm. My first Tree Pipit went over on the 7th whilst a Wood Warbler (ES) was seen briefly in Belle Tout wood on the 10th August.

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A brisk and slightly cool N wind, clear skies.

A run of the mill morning given the date, 2 Wheatear were around the car parks near the pub, Most of the c30 Willow Warbler were in the shelter of bushes near the radio mast. 1 Reed Warbler, c30 Common Whitethroat, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Nightingale, c12 Sand Martin headed east. 2 Yellow Wagtail over, a Sparrowhawk and a minimum of 5 Kestrel hunting together near shooters.

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Light NW wind overnight with a clear start.

I only covered the top bushes and Shooters, a small number of Willow Warbler were evident with c25 seen along with 3 Reed Warbler, a single Garden Warbler and 2 Nightingale. Common Whitethroat are abundant at present and it’s difficult to judge if these are locally bred birds or migrants, I suspect the former. Lesser Whitethroat seem a little commoner this autumn too. Bob ringed 29 Willow Warbler in the hollow.

The 1st brought my first Grasshopper Warbler of the autumn and two Wheatear along Cornish Farm track.

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26.07.22 An early Pied Flycatcher

Yesterday’s strong SW had mellowed into a light NW by the early hours, overcast.

A surprise Pied Flycatcher constituted the earliest I’ve recorded in autumn, having only seen one in late July before in 2020. Unfortunately it eluded the camera. Along with that were singles of Willow Warbler, Reed Warbler & Garden Warbler. Several Nightingale were croaking from the dense cover in Shooters. c150 Swift meandered over the headland under gloomy skies.

An evening walk around Belle Tout towards Cornish Farm revealed another new face of autumn, a scruffy young Wheatear still in body moult, a single Nightingale was also below the Lighthouse.

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21.07.22 First Willow Warbler of autumn

A still overcast evening visit.

Willow Warbler

A brief evening visit where a bright, lemon Willow Warbler was a welcome sight. c150 Swift passed overhead along with a high flying Ringed Plover.

The headland looking very parched at the moment.

The previous morning saw a juvenile Black Redstart in shooters, three croaking Nightingale heard, a Reed Warbler, 4 fly over Yellow Wagtail, a single Sand Martin south, whilst a Red Kite drifted west.

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