21st & 22nd April 2018 Black Kite, Little Bunting and Alpine Swift!

Saturday 21st was fine with a stiff easterly breeze. Overnight rain with east winds Sunday dawning cloudless with a moderate SW wind.

I had been bemoaning my lack of local good fortune, having not found much in the way of true scarcities since a pair of Red rumped Swallow in May 2016. Although I think I may have used up a fair amount of good luck this weekend with 3 very good finds within 24hrs. You just gotta keep chipping away, eventually something comes your way!


Little Bunting.

A very nice bright individual and not really on the radar as a spring find here.


The bird was quite tame and very vocal, giving its familiar “tick” call, mostly in flight.


Whilst birding Shooters on the morning of the 22nd I hadn’t seen much beyond a few Willow Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroat and 5 Common Whitethroat and a Ring Ouzel. Going on to walk the main ride I came across a small passerine feeding ahead of me on the path, raising my bins to discover it to be a very smart Little Bunting!. The bird initially went missing for an hour before reappearing but in the interim I picked up an Alpine Swift, so low over head bins were not needed, heading into the wind in a westerly direction. A pretty amazing streak of good fortune all within 60 minutes and the Alpine Swift being something I have long dreamed about finding on Beachy Head.

I was pleased a number of locals and Beachy Head stalwarts were able to catch up with the Bunting although only I and Bob Edgar saw the Swift, Bob being next to me as I picked it up over head.


The Alpine Swift scything through the air heading west, probably on show for less than a minute. Typically, it wasn’t hanging about!


On Saturday the 21st, less then 24hrs previous to the excitement of the 22nd, Jamie Partridge and I were doing our best to give the whole headland a once over, with little in return beyond a Ring Ouzel in Francis Bottom and 2 Red Kite when out of the blue whilst on Went Hill I got brief views of what I shouted as a Black Kite. The views we got were rubbish and the photo’s even worse. Being close to the car at Crow Link, we jumped in and tore off towards the pub at Beachy Head in the hope of intercepting the bird there, assuming it continued in it’s initial easterly direction. Thankfully, 50 mins after the first views, the bird appeared with a Red Kite behind Hodcomb giving much better views and images, although it was always unfortunately pretty distant. 3 Common Swift passed east over the house later the same day, my first of the year.


Heavily cropped images of the Black Kite taken from behind the pub, at the top of the headland.





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