29th October 2018 Richard’s Pipit

A cold and frosty start with a stiff NE wind veering more northerly towards the end of the day. A full day out with JP, 15km covered on foot. We birded Birling Gap, Belle Tout, Long Down wood, Cow Gap, the Holywell area, Went Hill & Michel Dean.


Belle Tout lighthouse from Went Hill, the top of Belle Tout wood catching the last rays of sun.


Firecrest at Birling Lane.

Things kicked off from the get go with JP picking up a Richard’s Pipit (c07:20) passing over Birling Gap heading towards Belle Tout. The bird called 3 or 4 times and was watched descending towards the cattle field there but we failed to relocate it despite searching. 6 Blackbirds and a Ring Ouzel were flushed from cover just east of the wood but only a single Redwing seen this morning. The top of Birling lane held 8 Goldcrest, least 2 Firecrest and a vocal Yellow browed Warbler which refused to show despite calling repeatedly from private gardens at about 09:30. Skylark (c100) remain evident, and a single Yellowhammer was mixing with the House Sparrow flock around Cornish Farm, c30 Corn Bunting, were encountered.  A decent bit of overhead movement until mid-morning mostly west; c200+ Chaffinch, c5 Brambling, c25 Siskin, 1 Redpoll, c200 Wood pigeon, 10 Stock Dove, 3 Grey Heron, 3 Golden Plover & 5 Lapwing.


One of todays Golden Plover.

Moving on to Cow Gap and the Hollow we found it to be very quiet apart from a flock of 20 Common Scoter on the sea whilst a migrant Short eared Owl was flushed from the cliff face which flew out over the ocean but did return.


We then headed to Long Down to check the wood there but found it hard going bar a single Chiffchaff (max of 4 seen all day), a Goldcrest and a few Blue and Great Tit. Passing back through a quiet Belle Tout wood, the Eurasian Treecreeper was still present and calling. It appeared quite cold looking with clean white underparts and a substantial supercillium that extended in the nape area and the mantle seemed cold toned too. Perhaps I haven’t looked critically at any britannica Treecreepers lately but it seemed a little lacking in warmth. Although nowhere near as extreme as the images of familiaris “Northern” birds I’ve seen.

5T6A0519 2

Treecreeper are rare here, this being only the 2nd I have seen since I started watching the site in 2014.



We covered Went Hill and Michel Dean but found it quiet beyond a small mixed Tit flock, two Peregrine and a Sparrowhawk. Throughout the day, other raptors included c6 Kestrels & 5 Common Buzzard, although no sign of their Scandinavian cousins. Quite a few Red Admirals on the wing along with a Clouded Yellow.


JP looking for the Richard’s Pipit. No shortage of habitat on Beachy Head.




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