2nd September 2015 – Shrike & Raptors

A bright sunny day, variable amounts of cloud cover with an increasing W wind. Beachy Head really felt like a migration hot spot today.

I fully intended to get on with other things this morning but a phone call from Kris Gillam changed the course of the morning. He had just found a Red-backed Shrike in Shooters Bottom. Putting obligations aside for a bit, I headed up and the bird quickly reappeared after a brief period of “hide and seek” favouring the cliff edge side of the bushes.

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Red-backed Shrike.

Whilst trying to shoot the Shrike, Kris called again saying there was an Osprey (10:30hrs) circling the Pub! I rushed up to higher ground where I could see it distantly circling the radio mast with 4 Common Buzzard. It then continued to climb into the cloud heading SE and out to sea. Most raptors that choose to exit Beachy Head follow a similar SE direction out into the channel.


One of KG’s shots of the Osprey.


Honey Buzzard.

From just behind the Main car park Kris and I set up for a sky watch. Seeing about 8 Common Buzzard (mostly locals) an immature type Marsh Harrier and my second Honey Buzzard (14:00hrs) in as many days. The Honey Buzzard came in from the NW, briefly circled the headland then drifted inland to the north. The Harrier also came in from a similar direction and disappeared east at some height. Somewhere in the region of 10 Swift were also seen, a good number for early September.


Marsh Harrier.

We concluded with a circuit of Whitebread Hollow where yet more raptors were seen, a Short-eared Owl drifted in from the west surprisingly making passage without attracting any attention from Crows and Gulls. Another Marsh Harrier went east to west. Quiet possibly a different bird from the previous one.


A (poor!) shot of the Short-eared Owl, east bound above Whitebread. There’s been a lot of Short-eared Owls moving around already this Autumn, which seems very early.

Also seen (I didn’t spend much time in the bushes today) were, 4 Whinchat, 4 Wheatear, c45 Whitethroat, 5 Blackcap, 3 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, c28 Siskin (all east), 2 Hobby (one of which was way out to sea seemingly catching insects), a large number of Swallow & House Martin, c200 Sand Martin.


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