Saturday, 31 August 2002

31st August 2002 Beachy 6.15am - 7.00pm. Sunny and calm at first with N wind increasing by mid-morning

Marsh Harrier 1juv. c.1.30pm over Hollow. Very dark plumage except pale cream throat and crown.
Kestrel 2
Peregrine c.3
Redshank 2 on beach at Gulley below Cow Gap
Bee-eater 1 @ c.4.15 and 4.45 over Hollow. Whilst watching the Sykes’s Warbler at around 4.15pm DC heard the distinctive liquid ‘prruut’ call and announced that he could hear a Bee-Eater at or about the same time as a number of other observers did similarly. DRC was first to see it approaching towards us over the rim of Whitbread Hollow roughly above the mist-net rides. It remained distant flying east, calling frequently before disappearing over the ridge towards Holywell and Eastbourne. At around 4.45 DC and a number of other observers again heard it call whereupon it was again seen to distantly fly east, again calling frequently, over the same ridge towards Eastbourne. Very pointed wings with a contrasting broad dark trailing edge just visble on a couple of occasions. As it banked bright yellow scapulars were briefly visible eliminating the remote possibility of Blue-cheeked Bee-Eater!
Ring-necked Parakeet 1 male
Green Woodpecker c.4
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 top of Lane
Wryneck 1 top of Lane. On arriving at the top of the Lane at c.6.30 it was flushed from the side of the track where it briefly alighted in some dead sticks before flying west and dropping out of sight behind a large clump of gorse and scattered bushes. Despite searching the area it was not until c.45 minutes later when RJF had independently found it in virtually the exact same spot where we saw it fly into the pine trees where it sat for c.5 minutes in the arly morning sun. Short pointed dark grey bill held above the horizontal. Grey crown with some darker barring, nape and mantle except for a broad vertical black stripe running from the nape and down the centre of the mantle. Scapulars black forming the effect of dark stripes running parallel with that down the centre of the mantle. Dark eyestrip extending from behind the eye and down the neck sides. Throat a deep orangey colour with feint darker barring. Belly whitish with dark chevrons on flanks. Wings greyish-brown being complexly patterned with paler spots across coverts and rows of darker bars across primaries. Long tail grey with darker bars. JFC had seen the same orangey-throated individual several days earlier.
Sand Martin c.50
Swallow c.350
House Martin c.30
Rock Pipit c.4
Tree Pipit c.3
Yellow Wagtail c.10
Redstart c.10
Wheatear c.10
Whinchat c.6
Blackcap 2
Lesser Whitethroat c.5
Whitethroat c.20
Sedge Warbler 2
SYKES'S WARBLER 1 ex. Whitbread Hollow

The bill appeared very long and narrow. It appeared clearly two-toned with the upper mandible, which was notably broad-based, appearing principally dark almost black (apart from a small pale tip) contrasting with the lower mandible which appeared wholly yellow and completely unmarked. Photographs reveal a pale cutting edge to the upper mandible not noted in the field.  

Head pattern very sudued appearing remarkably ‘plain-faced’. Pale buff supercilium starting at base of upper mandible (not meeting across base of bill) broadest above pale lores before narrowing in front and over eye and extending only just behind the eye. Hint of a narrow dark lateral crown-stripe bordering the supercilium but restricted to just over the loral area. This dark lateral crown-stripe appeared completely absent on occasions. The bird lacked even a hint of an eyestripe making for a very bland expressionless facial pattern. Ear coverts, cheeks and neck sides concolorous with crown and nape. Eye appeared black. Photographs reveal a very slightly paler iris not evident in the field.

Forehead, crown, nape, mantle, scapulars, back, rump and uppertail coverts very uniform pale drab greyish-brown adopting a less grey, paler ‘milky-tea’ or even sandy appearance in flight. The lesser, median and greater coverts virtually uniform with the mantle though complete pale fringes were clearly evident on the median coverts and especially the greater coverts broadening on the tips forming the effect of a pale wing-bar which varied in prominence with the angle of view. The overall appearance of the alula, primary coverts, tertials, secondaries and primaries were of being generally slightly darker and therefore slightly contrastingly so. The alula appeared uniformly dark brown with narrow pale fringes. The primary coverts were dark centred with pale fringes. The tertials were uniform with their dark centres contrasting with broad pale worn fringes. The secondaries clearly possessed pale fringes but so did the primaries thus no apparent contrasting pale ‘secondary panel’ was formed. The primary tips had complete narrow pale fringes enabling us to repeatedly count five primaries projecting beyond the tertials. Photographs reveal the spacing between the primaries appear to increase towards the longest primary and deep emarginations. It always appeared short-winged with our estimates of the primary projection beyond the length of the exposed tertials varying between a third to a half of the length of the tertials, but usually appearing closer to the former.      

Chin, throat, breast, belly and flanks strinkingly silky-white almost recalling a Bonelli’s Warbler at times. Short undertail-coverts white.

Tail always appeared long, quite broad and with a distinct noticeable notch. It had a very slightly rufous tinge with marked horizontal darker fault bars. Centre of tail appeared slightly darker than outer tail. At least the outer webs of the outer tail feathers seen to be whitish being most obvious when the underside of the tail was seen in flight.

It had sturdy legs being grey with grey feet.

The bird often flicked its wings and tail together with a nervous quality with its tail sometimes slightly raised and at other times slightly lowered, and sometimes spread and flicked.

It always gave the impression of being a long-tailed Hippolais although it often appeared flat-headed like an Acrocephalus Warbler. It lacked the Phyllosc-like character we have associated with previous Booted Warblers we have encountered.

JFC heard it call on a single occasion describing it as a quiet ‘tchak'.

Willow Warbler c.10
Chiffchaff 2
Long-tailed Tit c.8
Raven 4 in air together

Sunday, 25 August 2002

25th August 2002 Scillonian Pelagic trip 5.00am - 9.00pm. NE Force 3-4. Overcast and cold

Fulmar c.200
Great Shearwater c.15 with prolonged close views. Size of a Fulmar though appeared sleaker on the water and slimmer and longer-winged in flight. Dark bill. Dark capped appearance contrasted with collar which was not always visible at distance, and white neck-sides. Mantle and rump feintly barred. Uppertail coverts white contrasting with short black tail. Most showed pale edgings to the brown upperwing-coverts creating a series of narrow bars across the arm. Slightly darker area across central upperwing-coverts created the hit of an darker upperwing W. Darker primaries contrastred with the browner arm. Underwing coverts white contrasting with broad dark trailing-edge. Some dark lines across the armpits. Belly and undertail-coverts smudged oily-brownish being difficult to see unless banking. Often flew holding its wings bowed downwards. Pink legs and feet. Excellent.
Manx Shearwater c.8
Sooty Shearwater c.6 In the overcast conditions looked uniform dark blackish-brown with contrasting silvery underwing-coverts. Often held hand of wings swept-back.
Storm Petrel c.20 white band on underwing coverts seen with care and not obvious at any distance. Upperwings lacked contrast looking blackish. Square white rump often visible even at distance. Fast flight.
Gannet c.350 including some juveniles.
Ringed Plover 1 in flight c.90 miles SW of Penzance
Turnstone c.2 at sea
Grey Phalarope 1 seen briefly in flight low over the surface of the water. Obvious white bar across greater coverts of upperwing of arm contrasting with dark grey wings which in turn contrasted with paler grey mantle.
Great Skua c.12
Arctic Skua c.5 including pale phase adult in complete s/p. Juveniles all showed conspicuous white flash across the bases of the primaries. A juvenile seen in flight alongside a juv. Long-tailed looked noticeably larger in size.
Long-tailed Skua 2 juv. The first was seen in flight alongwith a larger juvenile Arctic Skua. A pale phase it appeared cold greyish on the upperwing-coverts and rump and uppertail coverts. Head pale. Obvious flash across the underside of the primaries and underwings barred. Dark breast band contrasting with white belly.
Surprisingly it showed quite an extensive area of white at the bases of the primaries almost forming a round ‘spot’. The second individual was an intermediate appearing very greyish across the upperwing coverts, seemingly lacking any white to the bases of the primaries on the upperside of the dark primaries. The hint of a pale collar. Looked small and slender winged.
Lesser Black-backed Gull c.200
Kittiwake c.10
Sabine’s Gull c.2 adults Both retained partial hoods most prominent on the napes. Dark grey uniform area across leading edge and upperwing-coverts extending from the base of the body to a point at the carpal joint. Black outer primaries contrasting with white trailing edge broadening to carpal joint and white inner primaries. White body. Superb.
Common Tern c.5
Feral Pigeon 1 joined the boat ‘at sea’

Saturday, 24 August 2002

24th August 2002 Beachy 6.00am - 12.15pm. Calm and sunny but not hot. Marazion Marsh, Cornwall 8.00pm - 9.00pm

Little Egret 1 flew high NE over Belle Toute area
Garganey 1 imm/fem/drake in eclipse. Overall mottled brown with all-grey bill and pronounced pale supercilium and dark eyestripe. For most of the time it remained obscured by reeds.
Common Buzzard c.8 on drive to Cornwall
Sparrowhawk 1 Beachy
Kestrel c.2 Beachy
Peregrine c.3 Beachy
Water Rail 1 Marazion
Spotted Crake 1 Marazion. Short stubby heavy bill yellowish with a dark tip. Head appeared grey with darker crown all feintlyale spotted. Breast finely spotted appearing greyish. Buff undertail-covers. In flight appeared small with uniform brown wings.
Cuckoo 2 Beachy
Barn Owl 1 at dawn near Ditchling
Swift c.80 Beachy
Green Woodpecker c.5 Beachy
Sand Martin c.30 Beachy
Swallow c.100 Beachy
House Martin c.10 Beachy
Rock Pipit c.4 Beachy
Tree Pipit 2
Yellow Wagtail c.50 Beachy
Grey Wagtail 1 Beachy
Redstart c.20 Beachy
Wheatear c.25 Beachy
Whinchat c.2 Beachy
Blackcap c.5 Beachy
Lesser Whitethroat c.8 Beachy
Whitethroat c.30
Grasshopper Warbler 3
Reed Warbler c.5
Willow Warbler c.5
Chiffchaff c.2
Spotted Flycatcher c.10
Pied Flycatcher 1
Linnet c.30

Friday, 23 August 2002

23rd August 2002 Ardingly Reservoir 6.00pm - 7.00pm

Great Crested Grebe c.15 including juvs.
Greylag Goose c.50
Kingfisher 1
Grey Wagtail 3

Sunday, 18 August 2002

18th August 2002 Beachy 5.45am - 11.30am. Calm becoming hot and sunny

Fulmar c.10
Gannet 2
Grey Heron 1
Marsh Harrier 1 c.10.30. Circled above Head for c.20 minutes before departing SE. Very dark with rounded tail and wings heald above the horizontal. Could just detect a pale creamy crown.
Peregrine c.5 including at least ‘brown’ 3 juveniles with white tips to all the tail feathers and finely pale tipped upperwing coverts and rump.
Common Sandpiper 10 on rocks off Gulley below Cow Gap
Herring Gull c.500
Lesser Black-backed Gull 2 juvs west along cliff edge. No pale window in dark primaries.
Cuckoo 1
Green Woodpecker c.2
Swallow c.5
Yellow Wagtail c.20
Grey Wagtail 1
Redstart c.2
Wheatear c.3
Stonechat c.5
Garden Warbler c.5
Blackcap 1
Lesser Whitethroat c.8
Whitethroat c.50
Sedge Warbler 1
Reed Warbler c.3
Willow Warbler c.30
Chiffchaff 1
Spotted Flycatcher c.5
Linnet c.35

Saturday, 17 August 2002

17th August 2002 Beachy Head 5.45am - 1.00pm. Light SE wind being sunny becoming hot

Shelduck 3
Marsh Harrier 1 juv. c.6.15 am. Virtually all dark save for a slightly paler crescent to the base of the primaries on the underside of the wings. Rounded tail. Hint of a pale chin and throat. Wings appeared blunt and rounded. Initially accompanied by a Peregrine. Drifted SW along Seven Sisters.
Sparrowhawk 1
Kestrel 1
Peregrine c.3
Pheasant 1
Stock Dove 1
Green Woodpecker 2
Sand Martin c.15
Swallow c.15
House Martin c.30
Rock Pipit 1
Tree Pipit c.8
Pied Wagtail 1
Yellow Wagtail c.20
Redstart 1 male
Wheatear c.10
Garden Warbler c.5
Blackcap 1
Lesser Whitethroat c.10
Whitethroat c.50
Sedge Warbler 3
Reed Warbler c.5
Willow Warbler c.15
Spotted Flycatcher 1
Pied Flycatcher 1 juv.
House Sparrow c.5
Linnet c.35
Goldfinch 1
Corn Bunting 2

Sunday, 11 August 2002

11th August 2002 Porthgwarra 6.00am - 7.00am. Light SW being misty with drizzle

Fulmar c.10
Manx Shearwater c.35 west
Sooty Shearwater 1 west. Appeared darker in poorer light but silvery underwings again conspicuous.
Gannet c.25 west
Buzzard c.10

Saturday, 10 August 2002

10th August 2002 Pendeen Lighthouse 5.30am - 11.30am and 1.00pm - 2.00pm. Cot Valley 2.30pm - 4.00pm. Hayle Estuary 4.30pm - 5.30pm. Marazion 6.00pm - 6.30pm. Moderate WNW sunny

Fulmar c.50
Manx Shearwater c.1,000 west
Mediterranean Shearwater 2 west. One closely resembling yelkouan appearing just slightly browner than Manx on the upperparts but with some dusky markings on the armpits but no obvious brown to the undertail coverts. The other individual very close to what the Collins Guide classes as ‘dark’ showing the hint of a pale belly and typical pot-bellied appearance.
Sooty Shearwater 2 west. Both appeared noticeably larger and longer-winged than Manx alongside appearing largely dark brownish-grey with slightly darker contrasting primaries. Hand held swept-back with noticeable curvature to the leading edge. Underwings silvery-grey often catching the light as they banked and turned into troughs.
Gannet c.200 west
Shag c.10 Pendeen
Grey Heron 1 Hayle, c.2 Marazion
Shelduck c.5 Hayle
Scoter 1 west Pendeen
Buzzard c.5
Sparrowhawk 1
Peregrine 1 female Pendeen
Curlew 1 west Pendeen, c.150 Hayle
Whimbrel 1 Hayle
Great Skua 2 west Pendeen
Arctic Skua 3 west Pendeen 1 pale phase adult, 1 intermediate phase (appearing with many rufous fringes across upperwing coverts) juv. and 1 dark juv. Latter showed white restricted to just c.2 upper primaries forming an obvious white streak with more extensive patch formed on underside of primaries. Pale base to bill quite obvious. Otherwise uniformly very dark.
Kittiwake c.15 west Pendeen
Kingfisher 1 Hayle
Stonechat c.4 Cot
Willow Warbler c.3 Cot
Chiffchaff 2 ad. feeding juv. (which appeared larger) Cot
Raven 5 Pendeen

Sunday, 4 August 2002

4th August 2002 Beachy 5.45am - 1.00pm. Calm with several heavy showers

Cormorant 9
Shoveler 1
Kestrel 1
Peregrine 4
Herring Gull c.15
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1
Great Black-backed Gull 1
Green Woodpecker 2
Sand Martin c.5
Swallow c.25
House Martin c.5
Meadow Pipit c.5
Wren 2
Dunnock c.5
Wheatear 2
Stonechat c.4
Song Thrush 1
Garden Warbler 1
Blackcap 1
Whitethroat c.35
Sedge Warbler 2
Grasshopper Warbler 1
Willow Warbler c.50
Jay 1
House Sparrow 2
Linnet c.25
Goldfinch c.5

Saturday, 3 August 2002

3rd August 2002 Beachy 5.45am - 12.30pm. East Head 4.30pm - 7.00pm. Calm being overcast with showers at East Head

Little Egret c.6 EH
Scoter 1 on sea off Cow Gap
Sparrowhawk 1
Kestrel 1
Peregrine 2
Oystercatcher c.2 EH
Ringed Plover c.3 EH
Grey Plover 2 s/p EH
Lapwing c.3 EH
Turnstone c.5 s/p EH
Dunlin c.10 s/p EH
Redshank c.25 EH
Greenshank c.10 EH
Curlew c.3 EH
Whimbrel c.5 EH
Black-headed Gull c.20 EH
Common Gull c.5 EH
Mediterranean Gull 1 ad/w EH
Herring Gull c.15 EH
Little Tern c.10 EH ex.
Sandwich Tern c.5 Cow Gap, c.20 EH
Common Tern c.5 EH
Cuckoo 1
Swift c.50
Green Woodpecker c.2
Sand Martin c.5
Swallow c.10
House Martin c.5
Meadow Pipit c.5
Wheatear 1
Stonechat c.5
Blackcap 1
Lesser Whitethroat 1
Whitethroat c.20
Sedge Warbler 4
Reed Warbler 4
Willow Warbler c.10
House Sparrow 1
Linnet c.20