8th July 2017 First Yellow-legged Gull

So, here is the first juvenile Yellow legged Gull of the summer, perhaps the first in Sussex unless I missed a report or two. This one was on Holywell beach at low tide. There was also a single Herring Gull juv. that looked very short winged and weak billed, literally just off the roof tops.


Yellow legged Gull.


A little distant unfortunately.

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There was also an adult Med Gull and 3 Little Egret this evening.


Little Egret.

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3rd July 2017

A lost weekend spent with Jamie Partridge looking for Yellow legged Gulls at various sites between Beachy Head and Hastings. Little of interest found apart from some ring numbers (all but one were North Thames Gull Group rings) taken at Hastings. There are currently zero juvenile gulls on the wing locally, so any juvenile Yellow leg’s would have stood out a mile.


An impressively sized Great black-backed Gull at Hastings. I found this bird tricky to age but would think it’s a 3rd summer bird with retarded bare part colouration.


An easier Great black back to age this one, clearly a 1st summer bird with lots of worn feathers, some of which to the quill and a very limited moult of dark centred 2nd generation feathers. Incidentally that was commonest age class on the beach perhaps reflecting the younger birds lack of motivation to return to their natal breeding areas. Ring number G4ST, part of the ongoing work by the North Thames Gull Group. It will have been ringed this winter at Rainham or Pitsea landfill sites.

Little else was seen throughout the weekend bar 3 Common Sandpiper at Holywell. 9 Swift went west whilst in Shooters on the morning of the 3rd and at seems a pair of Lesser Whitethroat have successfully bred there this year.


Dark Green Fritillary at Beachy Head on the 1st. Not as pretty as a juvenile Yellow-leg but nice enough.



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June 29th 2017

After a blisteringly hot spell during the second and third weeks of June, the month ends in a reassuringly British fashion. Cool temperatures with occasional showers. The hot weather gave way to a strong Atlantic weather system followed a period equally damp weather accompanied by east/southeast winds. I was absent for big chunks of May and have been fairly inactive on the bird front for most of June.


A Cuckoo in Shooters Bottom this morning.

I’ve found midsummer onwards a productive time for departing Cuckoo, the above bird constitutes my first bonafide south bound (dare I say autumn) migrant of 2017. These late June migrants are often the first Cuckoo’s I encounter on Beachy Head. I also had a  small party of Sand Martin dart over the roof tops here in Eastbourne on the 26th June.

The easterly winds brought no less the 16 juvenile Yellow legged Gulls  to Dungeness on the 27th. So localised was that occurrence I’ve pondered as to whether that was one flock that had crossed the channel together. Despite checking Princes Park and the beach at Holywell, I have yet to see one here. Nothing of interest but a Med Gull, a couple of Sandwich Tern off shore and a returning Curlew on the 28th.


A Little Egret working the concrete parameter of Princes Park boating lake was an unusual sight on the 28th.


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8th & 9th May 2014

Although the wind has been consistently in the NE or ENE sector it hasn’t killed off the detectable passage of summer migrants.


Spotted Flycatcher in Belle Tout on 9th.

The 8th was cold and grey but I had at least 15 Willow Warbler (mostly in the gully) and a Short eared Owl (scarce this spring and my first of 2017) passed leisurely through the hollow. Whilst KG had 3 Spotted Flycatcher at Belle Tout & 2 Black Redstart at Birling.


Short eared Owl on the 8th.

The 9th was a brighter day but the cool wind kept a lid on the temperatures. There seemed to be less migrants than the previous day although there was a female Redstart in the old trapping area, 5 Willow Warbler, 1 Spotted Flycatcher in the wood, a Hobby shot through Shooters at lunchtime and a Reed Warbler was also in song there. The Raven have two young now flying around the top of the headland.


Common Buzzard from the 8th May. Certainly striking an interesting flight silhouette when it first appeared, flight action was quite odd too!

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May 7th 2017

A bright start, gathering cloud moderate NE wind.



This morning was pretty quiet for migrants on the ground, as has been the case for the last few mornings. A few Whitethroat are now carrying nest material with many territories now established. 4 Willow Warbler, 2 Garden Warbler were they only birds that suggested they were migrants. This time of year tends to see the numbers of migrants drop away but with that, the chance of encountering something rarer increases. I have been lucky enough to encounter a Bee-eater and several Red rumped Swallow in the 2nd & 3rd weeks of May in previous years. A small number of hirundines and Swift were arriving by mid morning. An evening walk along to Cornish Farm, checking the fence lines for falcons, produced a smart male Whinchat for the effort.


Garden Warbler in the old trapping area.


Black Redstart nr the pub on the 4th May.

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May 3rd 2017 Turtle Dove

A dull overcast morning, occasional rain moderate NE wind.


Turtle Dove this morning. Interesting to see from the GPS tracked birds that most winter in Mali.

I wasn’t sure what to expect this morning but left feeling like the day was owed more time then I could spare. Willow Warbler numbers are really dropping off now with a total of zero yesterday and 2 this morning. The first flash of interest was a smart male Redstart that appeared briefly in the old trapping area quickly followed buy a lighting brief appearance of what I was happy was a Siberian Chiffchaff. I saw the bird briefly, rattled off a few shots at which point the bird headed purposefully west. A thoughtful dog walker flushed my only Ring Ouzel of the spring from near the pub. It called and flew west along the cliff tops, heading towards Shooters. I’m pleased not to have drawn a blank on these this spring as I had thought it now too late. At this point a Turtle Dove headed in from the east and obligingly paused briefly in the old trapping area. It’s only my 3rd one on Beachy Head and the only one I’ve seen perched! Considering the current state of this species as a UK breeder, I doubt that trend will improve.


Above and below, a bird I’m happy calling Siberian Chiffchaff. Overall desaturated appearance, only yellow traces confined to the fringes of the flight feathers, pale almost whitish below with no trace of yellow, something I note on many Tristis is a grey Garden Warbler like “shawl” around the nape which is clearly visible above. Unfortunately no call was heard.


Sunday 30th April saw a good movement up channel with (personally) c40 Pomarine Skua seen, along with a few Arctic and Great Skuas. The discovery of a pair of Little Tern and a Wryneck at West Rise late afternoon were both welcome and unexpected. Only my 2nd spring Wryneck in the local area. All enjoyed with Big JP day tripping from London.

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26th April 2017 Wood Warblers

A bitterly cold & strong NE wind, clear skies continue. The north wind worked again by dropping in some migrants, despite a clear night and morning.


Wood Warbler in the old trapping area.


Literally the first bird I saw this morning was this lovely Wood Warbler in the old trapping area. The bird called continuously and occasionally sang. An excellent bird on Beachy Head (or anywhere these days?) and my first here since 2015. There were also 6 Willow Warbler in the bushes along with a Garden Warbler. Then on to Shooters Bottom where there was very little other than a Common Redstart and a Lesser Whitethroat in song. I ended up in Belle Tout Wood where I met Kris Gillam. Where we remarkably found a second Wood Warbler singing above us. Two in one morning is quite exceptional by modern standards. There were also 4 Willow Warbler in the trees and a Firecrest in the bushes just to the west of the plantation.

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