Monday, 25 April 2016

25th April 2016 Beachy Overcast Cold NW4

Just when you felt it couldn't get any worse along comes a cold north-westerly wind. Very difficult birding on the headland and the few migrants which were present were playing hide and seek. A short sea-watch from 07.20-08.05 but, as expected, very quiet and very cold. We met up briefly with Bob Edgar who had covered Birling lane and Belle Tout wood and was going to visit the Whitbread Hollow area. We covered Chat Vale, the Old Trapping Area, the Hotel Garden, Icky Ridge and the Cliff Path. Willow Warbler numbers were still reasonable but otherwise just a handful of migrants were seen.

Brent Goose 77 E
Common Scoter 7 E
Kestrel 2
Whimbrel 2 E
Black-headed Gull 10 E
Sandwich Tern 1 E
Swallow 1
Wheatear 2
Song Thrush 2
Common Whitethroat 5
Blackcap 3
Willow Warbler 22

Sunday, 24 April 2016

24th April 2016 Beachy N4 Overcast & cold

We managed just a short sea-watch from 07.20-07.50 in a very cold north wind that produced 2 Little Gulls flying west appearing to he heading towards the Cuckmere. We then covered Birling Lane, Chat Vale, the Old Trapping Area, the Hotel Garden, the Cliff Path and Belle Tout wood. Given the persistent northerlies it  was somewhat surprisingly that there was a small arrival of Willow Warblers and Whitethroats.

Cormorant 12 E
Common Scoter 2 E
Common Buzzard 2
Little Gull 2 W
Razorbill 2 E
Swallow 2
Rock Pipit 1
Common Redstart 1 female
Wheatear 1
Common Whitethroat 9
Willow Warbler 16
Chiffchaff 3
Carrion Crow 2 in off the sea
Raven 2

Early Spider Orchid 7
Early Spider Orchid at Beachy (JFC)

Saturday, 23 April 2016

23rd April 2016 Beachy N4 Clear

We sea-watched from 07.25-08.10 but with a cold northerly wind very little was seen moving the highlight being a fine summer-plumaged Black-throated Diver. Birling Lane produced 2 Wheatears but Andrew Whitcomb's eastbound Serin sadly didn't reach us or we missed it. We met up with Ron Knight who had covered several sites but had seen little apart from a female Common Redstart in Chat Vale. We saw 19 Wheatears in the field near Birling and then covered Chat Vale, Icky Ridge, the Cliff Path and Belle Tout wood where just the single Redstart and a few Swallows were seen but not a single Warbler was seen or heard!

Red-throated Diver 1 E
Black-throated Diver 1 E s/p
Gannet 10 E
Sparrowhawk 1
Whimbrel 1 E
Lesser Black-backed Gull 2 intermedius
Sandwich Tern 3 E
Commic Tern 1 E
Swallow 4
Common Redstart 1
Wheatear 21

Carrion Crow 2 in off the sea
Raven 1
Greenfinch 1 pair
Male Wheatear near Birling (JFC)

Friday, 22 April 2016

22nd April 2016 Birling NE5-6 Overcast 7am - 9.30am

We arrived to an unpleasant strong cold north-easterly wind and sea-watched from 07.00-09.30 in what felt grey overcast wintry conditions. A barrel of a second-calendar year Glaucous Gull flying east at 7.35am did little to dispel that thought although a few flocks of Whimbrel proved it really is Spring and were the first I've seen this year. We then covered the Hotel Garden, Icky Ridge, the Cliff Path, the Old Trapping Area and Chat Vale where not surprisingly passerine migrants were at a premium albeit a surprise highlight did appear in the form of our first Swift of the year seen arriving in off the sea over Icky Ridge.
Gannet 50 E
Little Egret 1 in off the sea and headed over the cliffs and inland
Common Scoter 15 E
Red-breasted Merganser 2 E
Bar-tailed Godwit 1 E
Whimbrel 37 E
Glaucous Gull 1 E @ 07.35 second-calendar year
Sandwich Tern 5 E
Swift 1 in and departed N
Swallow 1 in off the sea
Wheatear 1
Common Whitethroat 1
Blackcap 1
Chiffchaff 2
Willow Warbler 1

Little Egret arriving in off the sea at Birling
Flying into the wind low over the water proved no problem for this bird but every time it reached cliff-top height the poor bird was blown back out to sea. It thankfully did make it on its third attempt!

Second-calendar year Glaucous Gull passing Birling

Whimbrel passing Birling

Common Swift arriving in off the sea over Icky Ridge

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

20th April 2016 ENE5 Clear

What a difference a day makes! The onset of the dreaded Spring strong north-easterly winds with clear skies. We arrived at Birling just as Bob was leaving the seawatch that he had endured in the cold windy conditions for half an hour for very little reward. We tried Chat Vale where the only Summer migrants seen were 3 Swallows flying east into the cold wind. The Old Trapping Area lacked any shelter in the cold wind and we didn't venture further east armed with the knowledge that Swallow was the only Summer migrant Laurence had seen in the Hollow. Belle Tout wood proved more sheltered but just a couple of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and a single Willow Warbler were seen.

Swallow 3 E
Blackcap 2
Willow Warbler 1
Chiffchaff 2

Male Blackcap in Belle Tout Wood

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

19th April 2016 Beachy N2 Overcast over land

No frost this morning and overcast the whole way to the coast but clear skies out to sea that combined with a cold northerly breeze presumably resulted in a decent fall of passerine migrants dominated by Willow Warblers. A quick glance out to sea produced nothing more than a determined handful of Sandwich Terns moving east. We then tried Chat Vale where numbers of Willow Warblers were immediately apparent with most making vertical sallies to catch insects. It wasn't long before Laurence was texting through news of a Cuckoo and a Common Redstart in the Hollow. We moved onto the Old Trapping Area where Swallows and House Martins were arriving in off the sea along with our first Sand Martin of the year. More Willow Warblers were present, a Chiffchaff and a skulking Sedge Warbler also being our first for the year. Bob Edgar arrived having seen 25 Willow Warblers at Birling, of which 15 were moving quickly inland along the hedge running towards East Dean. Another text from Laurence brought news of a Yellow Wagtail and Siskin over. The Hotel Garden held more Willow Warblers and a few Common Whitethroats and Icky Ridge produced more Willow Warblers, a Common Whitethroat and a Blackcap. Most of the action seemed centred on the east of the headland today and as we started along the Cliff Path a Short-eared Owl arrived in off the sea and continued north through Cow Gap and was lost to view flying into the Hollow. It arrived within a few minutes of one that arrived in off the sea at Selsey - presumably they had left France at similar times to each other too. A Siskin over, two more Sand Martins arrived, more Willow Warblers, a few Chiffchaffs and then a fine male Common Redstart were all eclipsed by a female Pied Flycatcher seen dropping onto the path a few times to take prey. The hedgerow behind the Hotel was playing host to more Willow Warblers and a male and female Common Redstart so it felt like birds were still arriving. We therefore revisited the Old Trapping Area and Chat Vale but both were now quiet. A look in Belle Tout wood produced a group of 6 Blackcaps feeding in the undergrowth and two male Wheatears were in the field opposite. A work commitment then sent me home but a very enjoyable day.

Shelduck 1 pair prospecting
Sandwich Tern 5 E
Short-eared Owl 1 in off the sea and headed N Cow Gap @ 10.05
Sand Martin 3 N
Swallow 11 N
House Martin 7 N
Common Redstart 3
Wheatear 2
Song Thrush 3
Sedge Warbler 1
Common Whitethroat 5
Blackcap 7
Chiffchaff 5
Willow Warbler 45
Pied Flycatcher 1 female
Long-tailed Tit 1
Raven 2
Siskin 1

Sedge Warbler in the Old Trapping Area
Sand Martin over Cow Gap

Short-eared Owl arriving in off the sea and over a couple of observers in Cow Gap
Female Pied Flycatcher along the Cliff Path (JFC)

Monday, 18 April 2016

18th April 2016 Beachy W3 Clear

Another frost and another very clear morning this time combined with a chilly westerly wind. A short look out to sea produced two small flocks of Common Scoter passing east and a single Sandwich Tern doing likewise. Bob had covered the lane seeing a single Wheatear and a single Willow Warbler. We tried Chat Vale where a singing Lesser Whitethroat, being our first for the year, was an encouraging start but little else was evident other than a few Finches flying over. The Old Trapping Area and Hotel were virtually devoid of migrants. We saw Richard at the Hotel Garden who had walked the Hollow and Cow Gap and was surprised by the lack of Summer migrants present. A single Common Whitethroat was singing Icky Ridge and a Siskin overflew and the Cliff Path produced just a couple of Chiffchaffs on territory.  

Common Scoter 13 E
Common Buzzard 1
Kestrel 1-2
Swallow 2 N
Lesser Whitethroat 1
Common Whitethroat 1
Blackcap 1
Chiffchaff 3
Long-tailed Tit 1
Linnet 40
Goldfinch 15
Siskin 1 N
Male Lesser Whitethroat in Chat Vale (JFC)

Sunday, 17 April 2016

17th April 2016 Beachy NW1 Clear

Being frosty overnight and very clear on our arrival at Birling it didn't bode well and so it proved with just a Willow Warbler or two at Birling, another and a confiding male Sparrowhawk in Chat Vale, a Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and a Firecrest in the Old Trapping Area and a pair of Redpolls overflying the Hotel Garden. We met Bob Edgar there who had seen a male Common Redstart at Birling but little else.
Sparrowhawk 1 adult male
Common Buzzard 4
Kestrel 1
Collard Dove 1
Swallow 2 N
Common Whitethroat 2
Chiffchaff 3
Willow Warbler 5
Firecrest 1
Lesser Redpoll 2 W
Adult male Sparrowhawk in Chat Vale (JFC)

Saturday, 16 April 2016

16th April 2016 Beachy NW1 Partially overcast

Cold overnight but warming by the time we had walked the lane at Birling where just 2 Willow Warblers and 2 Blackcaps were seen. Whilst walking the Belle Tout loop a Mediterranean Gull was heard calling and whilst scanning for it a flock of 7 or so distant Egrets/Spoonbills out to sea were literally glimpsed flying high east but immediately disappeared behind the cliff edge - frustrating! We met Laurence by the Old Lighthouse who had likewise seen very few migrants. Another 3 Willow Warblers were seen around Belle Tout Wood where we met Kris Gillam who had already walked the Hollow and Cow Gap for very little reward. It was good to see Matt Eade near Birling where amongst a pulse of c.20 newly arriving Swallows, sharp as always, he quickly picked out a House Martin that was soon to be followed by two more. The Old Trapping Area proved deadly and with the onset of rain we called it a day. 

Sparrowhawk 1
Common Buzzard 4
Kestrel 1
Mediterranean Gull 1 E
Swallow 20 N
House Martin 3 N
Pied Wagtail 1
Common Whitethroat 3
Blackcap 2
Chiffchaff 2
Willow Warbler 5
Linnet 40
Raven 1

Blackcap navigation explained at last

Sunday, 10 April 2016

10th April 2016 Beachy ESE5 Clear 6.45am - 11am

A thick frost was a surprise as were the virtually calm conditions on leaving home. However, we joined Roger Haggar, Al and Kris and were soon joined by Ron seawatching at Birling in a stiff cold easterly wind. A steady movement of Sandwich Terns and Common Scoter persisted all morning, a few flocks of Brent passed along the tideline with variety provided by a few Teal, Shoveler, Pintail, Eider, Arctic Skuas and Sanderling and some quality in the form of a couple of Little Gulls, a couple of summer-plumaged Black-throated Divers and a close Manx Shearwater that flew east at 8.54am. Laurence arrived having covered Chat Vale to Birling on foot with news of two male Common Redstarts. We checked Chat Vale, the Old Trapping Area, the Hotel Garden and the Birling area in a now strong easterly wind but we didn't see a single Phyllosc today and the sole Swallow doesn't make a Summer!

Red-throated Diver 4 E
Black-throated Diver 2 E s/p
Gannet 6 E
Manx Shearwater 1 E at 8.54am
Brent Geese 202 E
Eider 3 E
Common Scoter 805 E
Pintail 2E, 1W
Shoveler 5 E
Teal 7 E
Arctic Skua 7 E all dark
Kittiwake 280 E
Common Gull 10 E
Mediterranean Gull 5 E ad
Black-headed Gull 15 E
Little Gull 2 E
Sandwich Tern 385 E
Commic Tern 67E
Sanderling 2 E
Auk sp. 1E, 1W
alba Wagtail 3 in off
Carrion Crow 2 in off
Swallow 1
Common Redstart 2

Male Common Redstart at Birling

Saturday, 9 April 2016

9th April 2016 Beachy SW3 Rain clearing

We timed our arrival for the forecast rain clearance at 8am but there was little visibility out to sea so we covered Belle Tout and Chat Vale in steady rain and squally unpleasant conditions seeing just a couple of Willow Warblers. The rain abruptly cleared leaving suddenly very clear visibility with a drop in the wind. The Old Trapping Area was playing host to a few Willow Warblers buzzing around with a couple flying of east and a Goldcrest. The Hotel garden and Icky Ridge held more Willow Warblers, another Goldcrest and a male Blackcap hopping around on the ground and a pair of Black Redstarts flew past us landing on the cliff edge just west of Icky Ridge where John Marchant subsequently caught up with the female. We walked Chat Vale and the Wood again and covered the area to the top of Birling Lane but activity had died and just a few more Willow Warblers, including a couple in song, and a couple more Blackcaps seen. 
Brent Geese 6 E
Red-legged Partridge 2-4
Black Redstart 2 (male and female) Icky Ridge
Song Thrush 2
Blackcap 4
Chiffchaff 4
Willow Warbler 18
Goldcrest 4

Male Blackcap on Icky Ridge

Sunday, 3 April 2016

3rd April 2016 Birling SE2 Clear 6.45am - 9.15am Hazy

Whilst driving at Exceat Bridge an overflying Ring-necked Parakeet was a surprise. At Birling we joined Bob Edgar, with Ron Knight also soon arriving, for another enjoyable seawatch, that whilst comprised of fewer birds again there was a good variety of species passing in a light southeasterly breeze. Highlights included virtually all of the Little Gulls passing at an enjoyable range and our first Bonxie of the Spring. With the overnight rain we weren't too surprised with the pager bringing news of Wryneck, Hoopoe, Ring Ouzels and Serin in quick succession from Dorset and Hampshire it seemed the area might deliver. Chat Vale proved very quiet, a Red Kite flew west over the Old Trapping Area that held a couple of Chiffchaffs, the Hotel Garden was quiet and we didn't see anything more than a couple of Chiffchaffs, one of which was in song, in Belle Tout Wood. Given the overnight rain it was surprising that the Firecrests had moved-on.
Red-throated Diver 51 E
Great Crested Grebe 2 on sea
Gannet 58 E
Brent 35 E
Shelduck 1 E
Merganser 2 E
Scoter 191 E
Shoveler 2E
Red Kite 1 W juvenile
Bonxie 1 E
Arctic Skua 5 E (4d,1p)
Common Gull 20 E
Kittiwake 60 E
Mediterranean Gull 1 E ad
Black-headed Gull 10 E
Little Gull 18 E
Sandwich Tern 80 E
Commic Tern 3 E
Auk sp. 1E
Chiffchaff 4

Juvenile Red Kite at Beachy
the pale rump and pale tips to the greater coverts are juvenile characters
Differing primary wear reveal it to be a different individual to that seen yesterday


Red Kite attracting the attention of a Raven at Beachy

Saturday, 2 April 2016

2nd April 2016 Birling S3 Clear 6.45am - 10.30am

A nice gentle southerly triggered an enjoyable seawatch dominated by an easterly passage of Kittiwakes that were no doubt under-recorded especially as the sea-watch proved busy at times with a nice variety of other species passing including several parties of Little Gulls and another summer-plumaged Black-throated Diver. A pair of Wheatears in the ploughed field at Birling were welcome being our first of the year! A look at Chat Vale, the Old Trapping Area and the Hotel Garden revealed the continuing presence of good numbers of confiding Firecrests. A Red Kite that flew west over the Beachy Head Hotel at 12.35pm quickly gained height and looked to head out into the hazy conditions before turning back and heading inland. An evening visit to Rodmell in light rain produced 11 Swallows.

Red-throated Diver 47 E
Black-throated Diver 1 E s/p
Gannet 15 E, 5 W
Brent 424 E
Velvet Scoter 1 E
Common Scoter 347 E
Merganser 8 E
Red Kite 1 W at 12.35pm
Arctic Skua 1 E dark
Common Gull 27 E
Kittiwake 370 E
Mediterranean Gull 3 E (1 ad, 2 2s)
Black-headed Gull 10 E
Little Gull 27 E
Sandwich Tern 194 E
Common Tern 9E
Auk sp. 6E
Alba Wagtail 2 N
Wheatear 2
Chiffchaff 1
Firecrest c.7+

Wheatears at Birling
they're back!


 Firecrests at Beachy

Red Kite proving it can fly higher!
Swallow 11
Pied Wagtail c.10

Friday, 1 April 2016

1st April 2016 Rodmell

Another calm evening although considerably cooler and the change in the month has appeared to do little to suggest it is Spring and with just 2 Redwings seen and four Cetti's Warblers heard singing the birding didn't feel very Spring-like either.

Pied Wagtail 2
Redwing 2
Cetti's Warbler 1 + 3h