January is a slow month on Beachy Head, at least it has been for me. Bird activity amongst the bushes and gorse consists mainly of Stonechat (only one pair encountered in-between Belle Tout and Birling on 28th, much reduced in number than when breeding birds are present), Dunnock, the odd Robin and Goldcrest. A small group of 3/4 Dartford Warblers were seen by the Coopers on New Years Day, in the gorse above Belle Tout wood but I’ve not heard or seen any since late last year. The Raven pair are conspicuous upon the apex of the headland, near the pub and I’m pretty sure I saw one was collect nest material on the 28th. Large numbers of Rook & Jackdaw are massing in the fallow field at Birling, where good numbers of Skylark and (smaller numbers of) Corn Bunting can also be found, with many individuals in song. In addition I heard my first Blackbird of the “spring” offering up some relaxed verses on the evening of the 28th, here in the Meads area of Eastbourne.
Winter arrived for a brief 6 day visit around the 15th bringing night frosts and snow flurries but temperatures soon crept back up as the jet stream once again took dominance over the UK weather. The month concludes under the influence of its wet, mild and at times gale force winds!
Throughout the month I’ve continued to offer my time to the Sussex Pony Grazing and Conservation Trust aiding with daily checks and helping move the herd at Shooters Bottom over on to Front hill, nearer town. These animals will now stay at that location until all the ponies are moved off in March to their spring & summer quarters. The other, smaller herd, continue to graze Birling Gap.