Saturday, 11 August 2001

11th August 2001 Beachy Head 6.15am - 12.30pm. Sunny with SW wind strengthening

Gannet c.30 fishing offshore from Birling Gap and Cow Gap
Little Egret 1 flew west past Birling Gap
Heron 3 in off at Birling Gap
Kestrel c.2
Peregrine 1 adult in primary moult
Swallow c.8
House Martin c.10
Wheatear c.10
Whinchat 2
Garden Warbler 1
Blackcap 1
Lesser Whitethroat 5
Whitethroat c.25
Sedge Warbler 3
Melodious Warbler 1 ex. Found by JFC in the Hotel Gardens the previous day. On locating it today it immediately appeared a large pale plain-faced Warbler, with a large yellow-looking bill and pale yellow wash to the ‘face’ immediately suggesting a Hippolais. After a brief initial view it remained frustratingly extremely elusive taking roughly 2 hours for DC to determine the primary projection (having spent 2 hours the previous day failing to see the bird at all !). Originally seen close to the ground, it was then seen variously in rosebay willowherb, gorse and climbing quite high in elderberry bushes. It was seen in flight on several occasions covering a fairly large area. Large bill appearing predominantly yellow and often held slightly up-tilted. Supercilium well marked in front of eye and extending a fair way behind of the eye appearing quite yellow when the bird was viewed facing slightly away. Lores pale giving the bird an open-faced expression with large dark eye surrounded by a pale eye-ring. Often appearing rounded-crowned though on a couple of occasions quite flat-crowned ! Crown, ear-coverts, mantle and scapulars greyish-green and uniform. Coverts and primaries appearing slightly darker than upperparts contrasting with a pale panel formed by paler fringes to the secondaries which depending on the angle of the bird sometimes appeared very noticeable and completely absent at others. A medium primary projection being approximately half the length of the exposed tertials with primaries tipped pale and the longest primaries falling roughly at the base of the tail. Tail square with several of the outer tail feathers appearing ‘bleached’ contrasting with darker central tail feathers being very noticeable in flight. Some yellow restricted to the throat becoming pale, almost white, on the remainder of the underparts. Legs appeared dark brownish with the bird being ringed ! (perhaps just coincidence but a bird trapped at Portland within the previous week). In flight the bird gave the impression of a large pale, somewhat bleached-looking Warbler. Not heard to call.
Willow Warbler c.30
Chiffchaff 1 adult
Pied Flycatcher 1