Another bright start with no let up in the raging ENE wind, which is getting a bit tedious but the birds are getting through and I think the wind is doing good things in terms of allowing birds to be discovered.
Red Kite, number 17.
I arrived at Birling and headed up Birling Lane, a Red Kite was loafing around the top house and drifted off west, a much tattier bird then yesterday. I went on to check Michel Dean (the first valley west of Birling) finding nothing other than a singing Whitethroat and a couple of fly over Raven. Small numbers of Swallow were arriving and whizzing in land, low level over the downs. At around 8am I back tracked towards Birling Gap car park and in doing so picked up a Common Swift (first of the year) distantly heading into the wind, over towards Belle Tout. Always a pleasure to spy the first Swift of the year. It wasn’t until I returned home and checked Twitter (there’s almost no network coverage on Beachy) that I learnt Kris Gilliam had paid a visit to Birling Gap. His timing perfect as a Red-rumped Swallow headed in off the sea and over his head whilst in the car park… in the company of a Common Swift. Certainly the Swift I saw distantly from the top of Birling Lane. AAAArrrrgggh! A very frustrating, narrowly missed opportunity for me! Red-rumped Swallow, although an increasingly regular spring over shoot, are such great birds. It’s also been a long time since I’ve found one, in fact they were still a BBRC species back then in 1994!
Not realising I had just missed the Swallow, I did a loop around Belle Tout, failing to see the Wryneck and hearing just one Willow Warbler.
Stonechat, Belle tout.