Sunday, 27 May 2012

27th May 2012 Birling SE1 6.25am-8.45am

Gannet 60E
Shelduck 2W
Common Scoter 8E
Bonxie 1E
Mediterranean Gull 1E 2s
Little Gull 1E 1s
Sandwich Tern 14E
Roseate Tern 1E adult at 6.45am ex.
Commic Tern 122E
Black Tern 1E
Auk sp. 2E
Razorbill 2E
Swift 7
Swallow 12
 Adult Gannet off Birling Gap

Female Broad-bodied Chaser in the Old Trapping Area

Saturday, 26 May 2012

26th May 2012 Beachy NE6 Clear

Little Egret 1 Birling
Shelduck 4E
Scoter 65E
Garganey 2E pair ex.
Shoveler 20E mainly drakes
Bonxie 1E
Sandwich Tern 12E
Commic Tern 2E
Little Tern 3E
Ringed Plover 17E
Swift 7 in off
Swallow c.10
House Martin 10 in off
Sand Martin 1

Beautiful Demoiselle at Belle Tout Wood

 Grizzled Skipper in Chat Vale

Grizzled Skipper in Chat Vale
Different individual showing variation in wing pattern

Sunday, 20 May 2012

20th May 2012 Beachy NNE5 Overcast

Red Kite 1
Hobby 2
Swift 25
Swallow 20
House Martin 5
Wheatear 1

 Common Swift over Birling

Red Kite over Belle Tout

Saturday, 19 May 2012

19th May 2012 Beachy SW3 Overcast clearing

Gannet 102E
Brent Goose 9E
Eider 1E drake
Common Scoter 88E
Velvet Scoter 1E
Red-breasted Merganser 1E
Honey Buzzard 1N at 10.15am distant in over Hodcombe and then circling and gaining height over Frost Hill before heading north courtesy of a loud shout from Simon L and views through Mick D's very nice Swarovski scope
Sanderling 3E
Curlew 2W
Pomarine Skua 1E pale phase adult at 6.20am ex.
Arctic Skua 3E
Bonxie 1E
Mediterranean Gull 3W (2ad & 1w)
Little Gull 1E 1s
Black-headed Gull 6E
Sandwich Tern 72E
Commic Tern 259E
Little Tern 1E
Black Tern 7E ex.
Auk sp. 7E
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Swallow 15
House Martin 1N
Wheatear 1
Lesser Whitethroat 2
Blackcap 2
Chiffchaff 4
Long-tailed Tit 1
Treecreeper 1
Wall Brown 6
Holly Blue 1
Small Heath 4
Green Hairstreak 2

 Green Hairstreak in the Old Trapping Area

Field Mouse-ear near the Old Trapping Area

Sunday, 13 May 2012

13th May 2012 Beachy Calm and clear

Mallard 2
Whimbrel 8 flew inland
Collared Dove 6W
Stonechat 5 including first fledged juvenile
Wheatear 2
Swallow 6
House Martin 1
Lesser Whitethroat 2
Chiffchaff 2

 Scan the gorse tops for Woodchat...

 Whimbrel over Birling
A flock of Whimbrel happy to take the overland route in today's clear conditions

 Painted Lady at Belle Tout
Appearing so worn it is tempting to speculate this individual had hibernated nearby

 Swallow at Belle Tout

 Chiffchaff in the Old Trapping Area

Male Blackbird in the Hotel Garden
On decoy duty to attract any passing Sibe Thrushes - failed again!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

12th May 2012 Beachy NE3 Clear

Mallard 2
Red-legged Partridge 1
Collared Dove 3
Swallow 60N
Sand Martin 1
Swift 6N
Wheatear 5
Yellow Wagtail 5N
Whitethroat 30
Lesser Whitethroat 2
Blackcap 6
Garden Warbler 1
Reed Warbler 2h
Willow Warbler 5
Chiffchaff 3
Treecreeper 1
Spotted Flycatcher 7
Redpoll 1 flew NW
Goldfinch 6W
Corn Bunting 2

 Garden Warbler at Birling

 Spotted Flycatcher at Belle Tout

 Willow Warbler showing characters of P.t. acredula at Belle Tout
The greyish cast to its upperparts and near-white underparts and broad striking supercilium made for an eye-catching Willow Warbler and are all characters associated with Northern Willow Warbler P.t. acredula.

Presumed pale variant Early Purple Orchid

Monday, 7 May 2012

7th May 2012 Beachy SE2 Overcast

Red-throated Diver 8E
Black-throated Diver 8E
Great Crested Grebe 2E
Brent Goose 13E
Shelduck 8E
Merganser 3E
Scoter 305E
Hobby 1 in off at 6.05am
Bonxie 2E
Pomarine Skua 5E ex. (3 pale & 2 dark / 3 6.20, 1 7.40 & 1 9.50)
Arctic Skua 6E
Mediterranean Gull 1E, 3W (all 1s)
Little Gull 3E (all 1s)
Sandwich Tern 80E
Commic Tern 25E
Common Tern 1E
Little Tern 4E
Auk sp. 40E
Razorbill 1 on sea
Avocet 4E ex.
Whimbrel 17E
Bar-tailed Godwit 37E
Grey Plover 1E
Swallow 30 in off
Yellow Wagtail 2 in off
Whinchat 3
Wheatear 6
Whitethroat c.10
Chiffchaff h

Adult male Whinchat at Birling

 Adult female Whinchat at Birling

 Female Wheatear at Birling

Male Wheatear at Birling

Sunday, 6 May 2012

6th May 2012 Beachy NE3 Light rain and cold

Great Crested Grebe 1E
Hobby 1 in off at 7.20am and 4 seen whilst walking the area
Commic Tern 8E
Auk sp. 1E
Turtle Dove 1
Swift 10 (1 being pursued by 2 Hobbys)
Yellow Wagtail 42
'Channel' Wagtail 2+
Wheatear 12
Whinchat 4
Redstart 1 female
Chiffchaff 3
Whitethroat 20
Blackcap 2
Garden Warbler 1

 Turtle Dove at Belle Tout

Hobby at Belle Tout

After the recent run of difficult-to-pigeonhole birds, a critical look through a grounded flock of 44 flava Wagtails in a sheep field at Beachy Head was only ever likely to raise more questions than answers... Whilst I've more to read (and learn), here's a few images:

Adult male Yellow Wagtail M.f. flavissima at Beachy Head
A straightforward starter that pretty much typifies British flavissima with yellow-green crown, nape and ear-coverts with bright yellow supercilium, throat and underparts.

Female Yellow Wagtail M.f. flavissima at Beachy Head
The majority of female flavissima are considered indistinguishable from Blue-headed Wagtails M.f. flava but some individuals such as the bird above show a yellowish supercilium enabling identification to form.

 Female Yellow Wagtail sp. M. flava sp. at Beachy Head
A rather eye-catching though colourless individual with almost pastel-coloured grey and green upperparts. Whilst it may not fall outside the variation that can  be shown by flavissima, it certainly stood out from the crowd, and caused us to consider Blue-headed Wagtail M.f. flava. However, the yellowish supercilium shown by some flavissima is a one-way character, so the consideration of Blue-headed seems a dead end pursuit. But is that the end of the story on this bird... it wasn't the only bird in the flock sporting similarly pastel-coloured upperparts...

 Presumed 'Channel' Wagtail M.f. flavissima x flava at Beachy Head
I guess this is a female, although the possibility of it being a first-summer male should perhaps be given some consideration? Unfortunately Winters (DB 2006) and Dubois (BW 2007) largely concentrate on adult male plumages of 'Channel' Wagtail. Whatever, it somewhat recalls a Sykes's Wagtail M.f. beema courtesy of such a pale grey crown and nape, white supercilium that flares behind the eye, white throat and such an extensive pale post-ocular spot that could be considered a broad pale post-ocular streak giving the impression of hollow ear-coverts and rendering the ear-covert surrounds a broad diffuse grey eye-stripe and diffuse dark moustachial stripe. However, 'Channel' Wagtail M.f. flavissima x flava closely resembles Sykes's Wagtail and all of the aforementioned characters are consistent with their appearance. Intriguingly, this bird's take-off call was heard to be slightly tremulous.

Presumed 'Channel' Wagtail M.f. flavissima x flava at Beachy Head
Note the patchy colours on the underparts and the broad though diffuse dark lateral crown-stripes forming something of a dark brow to the white supercilium on this individual. Could this be a backcross or second-generation intergrade? Likely-originating from north France, 'Channel' Wagtails seem to be on the increase in the UK. Can we expect to see more like this in the future...? Interestingly, and unbeknown to us at the time, Andrew Whitcomb found and videod a classic male 'Channel' Wagtail the same day just a few miles away on the other side of Eastbourne. To view his video see: