A few images from the weekend just past. A day trip to Dungeness on the Saturday where we managed to notch 11 species of gull, including both Glaucous & Iceland Gull along with the very showy Caspian Gull at the fishing boats.
1st winter Caspian Gull at Dungeness, certainly a little closer then how I usually see them in the Cuckmere valley.
It was a very dominate bird, often taking on other gulls for the bread scraps.
Below a lone Knot on Dungeness beach.
Sunday was spent locally. Newhaven Harbour at low tide held nothing of interest but Hastings had a moderate number of gulls. The small fishing fleet that operates out of there provides enough scraps to retain a good number of gulls. Nothing of major interest except Great Blacked-backed Gulls from a Norwegian and Guernsey ringing project.
Above the Norwegian bird and below the one from Guernsey.
This 3rd winter Great Black-backed Gull (5AC8) was ringed as a chick on the tiny island of Jethou, Guernsey on 26.06.15 latter being seen in Boulogne, France during it’s first autumn but by January 2016 it has been seen intermittently seen at Hastings. I assume these long lived birds spend their immature years loafing around before returning to their natal colonies and forming more consistent migration patterns there after. I have seen another individual from this project at Eastbourne a few years back. Thanks to Paul Veron for the prompt return of the data. Always fascinating to read.
Turnstone at Hastings.
The rest of the day was spent at sites closer to home where highlights included a male Hen Harrier, Hawfinch and unexpectedly flushing two Long eared Owl from a day roost. The latter are the first ones I’ve seen locally since moving here in late 2013.
Sunset from Beachy Head.
So another year concludes, blog updates have become increasingly scarce as have any decent birds to speak of on Beachy Head. Once we advance into November very little happens until late February or early March when Stonechat start to reappear along with the odd Linnet soon followed Black Redstart & Firecrest.
Firecrest amongst the leafless branches of Belle Tout wood, early March this year.
Of course 2017 will be remembered for the brief appearance of a Blue Rock Thrush, which is and will probably remain the rarest bird I have personally seen up there. Something the finder will saviour for years to come I am sure. It was a strange morning, crystal clear with almost no perceptible north bound movement but of course that particular continental visitor had not come from the south that day.
Blue Rock Thrush from April
As always the headland produced many enjoyable mornings and days out this year. I personally failed to reach beyond the self found scarcity level of Yellow browed Warbler. It’s easy to take for granted the opportunity to “self find” the likes of migrant Honey Buzzards & Wrynecks on a yearly basis and I remind myself of years spent living elsewhere when that wasn’t possible. It’s equally easy to allow the frustration of not finding something rare or scarce to diminish the enjoyment of the commoner birds you encounter. Something I try to avoid.
I don’t think I can tire of the views or the birds that go to make up the seasonal comings and goings up here. Beachy Head is a beautiful & special place.
Honey Buzzard from August.
A very cold morning and a quick visit to Sovereign Harbour to catch up with the Black Guillemot that has taken up temporary residence in the harbour there. I forget how small these birds are. A Brent Goose also flew around the outer harbour and a young Common Seal put on a little show at the dock gates. The latter appeared to have a tag on it’s rear flipper.
Little bit of Gull action from Dungeness. Two different 2nd win. Caspian Gulls from the fishing boats. We also had a total of 4 along with 3 Yellow legged Gulls.
2nd win. Caspian Gull. The first bird above and below.
Then quickly followed by a nicer, 2nd winter.
Another serenely calm morning when you can almost hear everything! Unfortunately there was no sound of passing Hawfinch. Very little overhead passage although there seemed to be a few Chaffinches on the wing. No more the 30 and within them, 3/4 Brambling. Singles of Siskin and Reed Bunting heard.
Both Corn Bunting and Skylark can be heard singing enthusiastically after the latters late summer silence. I have wondered if Beachy Heads breeding and wintering Skylark are in fact not the same birds. Although I base that only on the fact that they are inconspicuous after breeding until they seem to re-appear on the radar in autumn and then are a conspicuous bird on throughout winter.
Brambling & Chaffinch.
2 Bullfinch (male and female) were in Shooters Bottom which are the first I’ve seen out of the Hollow (where I’ve only seen them infrequently) and they tie in with a other local sites receiving some passage birds this week. One of my favourite British birds I think.
Bullfinch in Shooters this morning.
A light SW wind this morning, after a couple of colder days that had winds emanating from the north. Still no Hawfinches for me despite good numbers occurring not too far away within the county.
Goldfinch passage from the 19th Oct.
A very quiet day in terms of overhead migration. The strong finch movements of the last few weeks seems to have slowed. Apart from a few Brambling and Siskin it was mainly birds feeding in the fallow field opposite Belle Tout that made up numbers. Decent numbers of Skylark & Corn Bunting are occupying that field at present along with corvids and gulls. A handful of Redwing were seen & heard.
Ring Ouzel from the 26th.
Previous visits over the last two weeks had produced Ring Ouzel counts below double figures and again good numbers of Redpoll, Siskin, Goldfinch, Linnet and the odd Brambling.
At least 2 Dartford Warbler are occupying the gorse above Belle Tout. I guess these birds will remain in the area for a few months at least.
Dartford Warbler from the 27th.
Both Monday and Tuesday saw a strong westerly finch flight early on with the majority of the numbers made up of Goldfinch and Linnet, although within that were Siskin, Chaffinch, Brambling and Reed Bunting. I failed to connect with any Hawfinch. Pied Wagtails, Meadow Pipit and Skylark were also evident overhead along with a small number of Swallow. 3 Golden Plover also went over along with a Short eared Owl, which came in very high from the east and descended into Shooters Bottom where it was lost from sight. A smart adult Dartford Warbler was in the gorse above Belle Tout wood.
Part of a large flock of Linnet in the fallow field below Belle Tout, somewhere in the region of 200 birds.
A visit to Long Wood produced my second Yellow browed Warbler of the autumn along with a few Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, a single Firecrest and a Wheatear. Belle Tout wood held a similar suit of species along with a noisy band of c10 Long tailed Tit, including some individuals with very prominent breast bands. Frustratingly I had forgotten to replace the SD card in the camera so no pics from the 17th!