28th October 2014 – Dartford Warbler

Shooters Bottom, 07.00 – 09.30hrs. A gloriously sunny morning, a little lacking in bird movement with a moderate SSE breeze.


Beachy Head this morning.

Despite the previous night being crystal clear there seemed to be no detectable thrush movement during the hours of darkness, considering the date, that seems unusual. This morning the only birds moving in numbers were 150 Goldfinch moving east into the wind, I also heard a single Reed Bunting too. The warm morning also seemed to enliven the Skylark into song. 50 to 60 Stock Dove were harried by a large adult Peregrine throughout the visit. Whilst it dashed after the Stock Dove, 20 Golden Plover were disturbed from behind Hodcomb farm. An elusive Dartford Warbler (best searched for by call) showed intermittently in the morning sunshine. Dartford Warblers are occasionally seen on the headland during October (1 or two birds) but they do not linger into winter. BWP (Birds of the Western Palearctic) states adults of UK breeding populations are fairly sedentary, often not leaving their breeding grounds even in winter which leads to speculation that this dispersal along the south coast is possibly indicative of younger birds moving onto the continent but that lacks proof. It also outlines that it is almost exclusively juvenile/1st winter birds that under take these autumnal movements. The bird below would appear to be a young bird due to it’s overall colour.

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Dartford Warbler.

I called into the Red-breasted Flycatcher, which has now stayed 7 days in the Old trapping area, somewhere I’ve found doesn’t hold birds (usually) for longer than two minutes. In keeping with it’s reputation a Little Bunting was seen briefly (by Matt Eade) in the same bushes as the Flycatcher later in the day, before promptly departing west.

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Red breasted Flycatcher still perfoming.

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This smart male continues to attract a crowd and it would seem is no rush to reorientate towards where it should be spending the winter, somewhere on the Indian subcontinent.

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