Wednesday, 21 March 2018

21st March, 2018 Beachy Head Early frost, becoming sunny and warm. N1 to NW 3

With a north wind, sea-watch expectations were very low and this proved to be the case. We sea-watched from 06.50-07.25 but other than several Red-throated Divers on the sea, virtually nothing was on the move. In now lovely sunny conditions, with no wind we covered Birling lane, Birling to Belle Tout loop and Belle Tout wood, meeting up with RB who had covered Shooters Bottom. RE was also birding on the headland, and covered Birling lane and loop, Shooters bottom and the Cliff Path. Very little in the way of new migrants were seen which did include our seventh and eighth Firecrests for this Spring so far.

Red-throated Diver 9 on the sea
Fulmar 8
Cormorant 8 high E
Grey Heron 1
Kestrel 1
Red-legged Partridge 1
Common Gull 40 resting in the fields
Guillemot 2 on the sea
Collared Dove 2 Birling lane departed N
Meadow Pipit 12
Rock Pipit 1 displaying Birling
Robin 12 small increase in numbers
Black Redstart 1 ad. male still at Birling
Stonechat 8
Song Thrush 2 Birling
Firecrest 2 (1 in scrub below B/T lighthouse and 1 Birling lane)
Raven 1
Corn Bunting just 1 singing

Small Tortoiseshell 1

taken by Doreen Cooper
View of Birling Gap, along the Seven Sisters to Seaford Head.

taken by Doreen Cooper
Still no Poms!!

Doreen walking the Birling loop

Beachy Lighthouse

Collared Dove at Birling before departing north.

Red-legged Partridge at the cliff edge.

Firecrest in the scrub underneath Belle Tout lighthouse.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

20th March, 2018 Beachy Head Early rain becoming brighter, cold NE 5

Late start and we didn't arrive until 10.00 am. We covered Birling lane, Belle Tout wood, Old Trapping Area, Hotel Garden and Icky ridge area. Met up briefly with RB who had also covered Birling lane and Shooters Bottom. The strong unpleasant NE wind made birding difficult and very little was present in the area, although 2 Black Redstarts were now present at Birling.

Common Buzzard 1
Kestrel 1 ad. male
Snipe 1 flushed at the top of Birling lane
Common Gull  60 chiefly adults in the fields at Birling
Wood Pigeon 40 B/T wood
Green Woodpecker 1 B/T wood
Meadow Pipit 2
Black Redstart 2 at Birling (the adult male and a female type)
Stonechat 4
Song Thrush 3 at Birling
Raven 1
View looking down into Cow Gap with Eastbourne in the distant.

View looking across to the Cattle Field, an area we used to visit  
regularly, but in recent years it has been sadly neglected. 
On the 6/10/1969, Tony Quinn and myself found a Red-throated
Pipit here in with a flock of Meadow Pipits, and it proved to be the
first record for Sussex. It remained overnight and was seen by a
number of observers including the late Mike Shrubb the then County
Recorder, and was one of the rare occasions he twitched away
from Sidlesham  Ferry. There has still only been seven 
records to date in Sussex, with the last in 1995.

Monday, 19 March 2018

19th March, 2018 Goring Gap and Widewater

With news that the 1stW Iceland Gull was showing in the field at Goring Gap this afternoon, we decided to give it a try and luckily when we arrived it was virtually the nearest gull to the road. We stayed with it for around an hour mainly photographing it from within the car, and it finally stretched one wing out. Fair numbers of gulls resting in the field with Common, Black-headed and Herring. Most were asleep but we did also see 1 Mediterranean Gull and 2 Sandwich Terns.
On our way home we called into Widewater, very little seen in a brief stop with just 5 Teal and a small party of Mallard which included a fine drake Pintail. I can't ever remember seeing a Pintail at Widewater before.


Head and bill shot

Just showing some slightly darker tips to some of the
inner primaries 

A tired looking Sandwich Tern

Drake Pintail on Widewater.

Friday, 16 March 2018

16th March, 2018 Beachy Head Overcast with odd sunny periods, cool SW 4

As we drove over Ditchling Common in the dark, a Woodcock was sat in the middle of the road and as we approached with our headlights on, it stood up and brought back memories of the Plains-wanderers which I saw with torches with RJF in Australia, a superb start to the day. The Woodcock then flew off.
We sea-watched from 06.20-07.50 mainly Brent Geese and Red-throated Divers were moving. We then covered the Old Trapping Area, Hotel Garden, Icky Ridge area, Shooters Bottom and Belle Tout wood. Met up with RE who had covered Birling lane, Birling loop, Cornish Farm track and Belle Tout wood. Migrants were thin on the ground with 2 new Firecrests seen and 2 rubicola type male Stonechats, one which RE had seen in the scrub below Belle Tout lighthouse and the second which I was able to photograph on Icky Ridge.

Red-throated Diver 41 E
Gannet 2 E & 2W
Brent Goose 283 E
Common Scoter 4 E
Red-legged Partridge 1 calling from the set-a-side field.
Mediterranean Gull 1 E
Herring Gull 600 in the Birling area
Kittiwake 50 E
Green Woodpecker 1
Meadow Pipit 6
Stonechat 6 (including 2 rubicola type males (1 on Icky ridge, 1 in Scrub below B/T lighthouse).
Blackbird 12 mainly males
Song Thrush 1
Redwing 1 Icky Ridge
Chiffchaff 1
Firecrest 2 (1 Hotel Garden and 1 Shooters Bottom)
Long-tailed Tit 2 on the Cliff Path

Firecrest in the Hotel Garden

A striking male Stonechat with large white wing panels and
collar band and a whitish rump  on Icky Ridge


Meadow Pipits are now being seen in small numbers.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

14th March, 2018 Beachy Head and Arlington Reservoir Mainly sunny and clear but cool. SE 2-4

A very enjoyable sea-watch with RAB and for some of the time with RE. We sea-watched from 06.25-09.30 with highlights including 6 Avocets, Velvet Scoter and Black-throated Diver, and then walked Birling lane and Belle Tout wood. RE covered various sites on the headland, with yesterdays male Black Redstart occasionally showing up Birling lane and 2 showy Firecrests in Belle Tout wood.

Red-throated Diver 50 (48 E and 2 on the sea)
Black-throated Diver 1 E with 2 Red-throats @ 09.00
Great crested Grebe 6 (3 E and 3 on the sea)
Gannet 8E
Canada Goose 2 high W
Brent Goose 598 E
Shelduck 2 E
Teal 10 E
Mallard 1 E
Pintail 2 E
Shoveler 3 E
Eider 4 E (3 drakes)
Common Scoter 163 E
Velvet Scoter 1 E
Red-breasted Merganser 4 E
Common Buzzard 3
Avocet 6 E @ 08.15
Bar-tailed Godwit 4 E
Mediterranean Gull 3 E
Common Gull 35 E chiefly adults in breeding plumage
Herring Gull c350 moving E in batches along the cliffs with many immatures.
Kittiwake c665+ E (very large movement virtually all the sea-watch with 665 a conservative estimate)
Sandwich Tern 3 E
Auk Sp. 33 E
Guillemot 2 (1 on the sea and 1 E)

Green Woodpecker 1 B/T wood
Great-spotted Woodpecker 1 B/T wood
Black Redstart 1 ad. male Birling
Goldcrest 1 B/T wood
Firecrest 2 B/T wood
Great Tit  Party of 8 flew out of the bushes and departed quite high in the sky.

Sunrise over Beachy Head.

Brent Geese moving past Birling nearly 600 were logged.

Common Scoters were also moving

Record shot of the 6 Avocets passing Birling

Not sure what this one was doing??

Two Firecrests in Belle Tout wood

With news of a drake Smew on Arlington Reservoir, we called in there on our way home and had some excellent views, as it was in the SW corner of the reservoir and frequently diving. The first one we have seen for several years.

View of the Bill

Drake Smew on Arlington Reservoir

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

13th March, 2018 Beachy Head Chiefly sunny and clear. W 2-3

We sea-watched from 06.40-07.55 and as expected with a westerly wind not a lot was moving. We also covered the Old Trapping Area, Hotel Garden, Icky Ridge area, and Shooters Bottom. Met up with RE who covered Birling lane, Birling loop, Cornish Farm track and Belle Tout wood and who had the bird of the day a fine ad. male Black Redstart at Birling but unfortunately it had moved on after a couple of minutes. LP also covered Belle Tout wood and the scrub area underneath the B/T lighthouse where he had a Firecrest. Otherwise the only other migrants seen were 2 Chiffchaffs and  Stonechats had increased to 7 on the headland.

Red-throated Diver 16 E
Fulmar 10
Brent Goose 206 E
Shelduck 2 E
Common Scoter 2 E
Sparrowhawk 1
Common Buzzard 4 over long Down
Kestrel 1
Peregrine 2+
Red-legged Partridge 2
Common Gull 50 off Birling
Herring Gull  c600+ (at dawn the whole headland and out to sea had hundreds of Herring Gulls including many immatures flying often high in the sky. 600+ a rough estimation but could have been as many as a 1,000.
Kittiwake 31 E
Meadow Pipit 4
Pied Wagtail 1
Wren 10+ 
Black Redstart 1 ad male Birling (RE)
Stonechat 7 
Redwing 1 B/T wood
Song Thrush 2
Chiffchaff 2
Firecrest 1 in scrub under B/T lighthouse (LP)
Raven 2
Linnet 5

Monday, 12 March 2018

12th March, 2018 Beachy Head Sea fog and rain SE 3-4

Very poor conditions this morning with sea-fog and rain, although we were able to sea-watch with most of the birds seen at close range. We sea-watched from 06.50-08.50 and then tried to cover some of the area around Belle Tout wood and scrub, briefly meeting up with LP who had seen a Firecrest and Blackcap. There was also 3 Chiffchaffs in the car park scrub. Unfortunately, the rain became heavier so we called it a day. Needless to say, when we arrived home it was sunny.

Red-throated Diver 3 (1 E and 2 on the sea)
Great-crested Grebe 6 on the sea
Gannet 60 E (all adults)
Brent Goose 304 E (all were very close following the coast line in the foggy conditions)
Mallard 12 E (a tight flock moving fast someway out to sea)
Common Scoter 11 E
Black-headed Gull 30 off Birling
Common Gull 60 off Birling
Lesser Black Back Gull 1 of the English race garellsii off Birling.
Kittiwake 4 E
Sandwich Tern 2 E
Green Woodpecker 1
Rock Pipit 2 Birling
Stonechat 1
Blackcap 1 B/T (LP)
Chiffchaff 3 B/T area
Firecrest 1 B/T area (LP)