29th July 2015 – Wood Warbler

As headed out the door this morning, I received a message from David Cooper saying his Dad had found a Wood Warbler in Birling Lane. I headed straight over but the bird had gone missing. Initially found near the car park it had flown into the gardens and been lost. Lucky, I chanced upon it again in a area of stunted Elms at the very top of the lane. Now barely hanging on as an annual migrant at Beachy Head, I was quite relieved when it showed up again. Thanks again to David & John Cooper.

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Wood Warbler, Birling Lane.

Now a scarce and declining UK breeding species, it’s not something I see annually, in fact it’s my first since 2013. It is one of the passage migrants I’d hoped to catch up with here but I’m surprised to see one at such an early date. I imagined seeing one in late April or September. Although BWP does indicate migration starts from mid-July. I’m assuming the date indicates this bird is from the UK breeding population. David Cooper since provided me with some information regarding Wood Warbler occurrences at Beachy Head since 2000. David wrote “there have been 2 in Apr, 2 in May, 10 in July, 17 in Aug and 3 in Sept”. So I should really have had an early Wood Warbler on the radar!

As I headed back towards the National Trust buildings, a juvenile Cuckoo flew through the gardens, perhaps Sundays bird but who knows for sure. Shooters Bottom held a single Willow Warbler and many resident Whitethroat. A mix of fresh juvenile birds and scruffy looking adults. There were also 2 Nightingale “croaking” from cover, one of which glimpsed and appeared to be a moulting juvenile bird. Many years ago Nightingale used to breed on Beachy Head, they’re now passage migrants only in spring and autumn.

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