16th November 2018 Cetti’s Warbler

A 5 day period of strong SW winds gave way to light south easterlies on the evening of the 14th, with high pressure over the continent. Unfortunately thick fog had developed by mid afternoon on the 15th continuing until sundown on the 16th, although winds remained light from SE.

36hrs of thick fog compromised any nocturnal arrivals and also dashed hopes of catching up with one of the many Pallid Swift which have occurred in this autumn’s huge influx. As I suspected they had begun to appear at south coast sites once the strong SW wind had abated. With records from nearby Dungeness and Brighton, both locations visible from Beachy Head.

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Firecrest in Belle Tout wood.

The morning of the 15th saw a moderate movement of c300 finches including (in descending order in accordance to their number) Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Redpoll, Siskin, Brambling. 2 Reed Bunting (which have been particularly numerous this autumn) and several small groups of Meadow Pipit & Skylark also moved east into the wind.

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Dartford Warbler above Birling.

Above the cottages at Birling, a Dartford Warbler was in close attendance to a pair of Stonechat. The wood held c20 Goldcrest, 1 Firecrest, 1 Treecreeper and a single Blackcap.

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Cetti’s Warbler near the National Trust compound.

On the 16th a singing Cetti’s Warbler at Birling Gap came as a shock. The species is rarely recorded on Beachy Head and most often discovered in the ringers nets. Thick fog snuffed out any overhead passage although a Snipe and 2/3 Golden Plover were heard passing over in the gloom. In the wood, what appeared to be the same number and mix of small passerines as the day before. However, there were clearly some new migrants around with c15 Goldcrest between Shooters Bottom and the Old trapping area, along with c35 Blackbirds, c10 Song Thrush, 2 Redwing and a Fieldfare.

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Kestrel in Shooters Bottom on the 15th before the fog rolled in.

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